- Prosecutors at the US attorney’s office in Washington, DC, are using a grand jury as they investigate whether former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe misled the bureau about disclosures to the media during the 2016 election.
- At least one witness has reportedly been called to testify and the investigation is ongoing.
- The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, sent a criminal referral regarding McCabe to the US attorney’s office in Washington, DC, earlier this year after he found that McCabe “lacked candor” on several occasions while being interviewed by internal investigators.
- If the US attorney’s office decides to prosecute McCabe, the charge would likely be lying to the FBI.
The Justice Department is using a grand jury as it investigates whether former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe misled the FBI about disclosures to the media at the height of the 2016 presidential election, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
McCabe was fired from the FBI in March after the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, found that he was not forthcoming about his role in approving the FBI’s disclosures to the media in October 2016 related to its investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
Horowitz’s office subsequently sent a criminal referral regarding McCabe to the US attorney’s office in Washington, DC, which is currently spearheading the investigation into his conduct. Two people familiar with the matter told The Post that the grand jury has called at least one witness to testify so far and that the investigation is ongoing.
The Wall Street Journal article at the center of the probe was published on October 30, 2016, two days after James Comey, the FBI director at the time, announced in a letter to Congress that the bureau was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
The article was a detailed account of internal strife within the top ranks of the DOJ about how to proceed after FBI agents investigating Anthony Weiner, the former New York congressman, discovered 650,000 emails on his laptop that could have been sent to or received from Clinton’s private email server.
The reporter who wrote The Journal’s article, Devlin Barrett, was in touch with two top FBI officials on the phone two days before the story broke, according to text messages released in February.
The officials were Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer who often worked with McCabe, and Michael Kortan, an FBI spokesman.
While law-enforcement officials often speak to the press on background to provide more complete details about a story, protocol prohibits them from disclosing information about ongoing investigations.
The inspector general found that McCabe’s authorization of disclosures to the media regarding the Clinton Foundation investigation “effectively confirmed the existence” of the inquiry, something Comey “had previously refused to do.”
The report also listed at least four instances in which McCabe “lacked candor” when discussing the disclosures while he was under oath.
McCabe could be charged with lying to the FBI
McCabe stepped down as deputy director in January after FBI Director Christopher Wray briefed him on the impending report about his conduct.
He was fired in March after the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended that Attorney General Jeff Sessions oust him.
Legal experts say that if the US attorney’s office in Washington were to charge McCabe with a crime, the charge would most likely be lying to the FBI.
McCabe’s lawyers have said that he did not purposely mislead anyone and that his statements to internal investigators “are more properly understood as the result of misunderstanding, miscommunication, and honest failures of recollection based on the swirl of events around him, statements which he subsequently corrected.”
Michael Bromwich, McCabe’s attorney, said in an earlier statement to Business Insider: “We have already met with staff members from the US attorney’s office. We are confident that, unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the administration, the US attorney’s office will conclude that it should decline to prosecute.”
Bromwich was referring largely to the string of scathing public attacks President Donald Trump leveled against McCabe before and after his ouster.
Since then, Trump and several of his congressional allies have ramped up calls for investigations into McCabe and other officials like Clinton, Comey, Page, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, and others.
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