from the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney's Office recently
interviewed former FBI director James Comey as part of a probe into
whether his deputy, Andrew McCabe, broke the law by lying to federal
agents - an indication the office is seriously considering whether
McCabe should be charged with a crime, a person familiar with the matter
Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz accused McCabe in April of
misleading investigators and Comey four times - three of them under oath
- about authorizing a disclosure to the media. Horowitz referred the
findings to the District's U.S. Attorney's Office to determine whether
criminal charges were warranted.
to federal investigators can carry a five-year prison sentence, though
McCabe disputes that he intentionally misled anyone. Comey's interview,
while significant, does not indicate prosecutors have reached any
conclusions, and people familiar with the process said it is not
surprising given the allegations McCabe faces. A referral from the
inspector general does not guarantee charges will be filed.
Bromwich, McCabe's lawyer, said in a statement: "A little more than a
month ago, we confirmed that we had been advised that a criminal
referral to the U.S. Attorney's Office had been made regarding Mr.
McCabe. We said at that time that we were confident that, unless there
is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the Administration, the
U.S. Attorney's Office would conclude that it should decline to
prosecute. Our view has not changed."
added that "leaks concerning specific investigative steps the US
Attorney's Office has allegedly taken are extremely disturbing."
Justice Department spokeswoman and a lawyer for Comey declined to
before the allegations against him, McCabe had become a lightning rod in
the political battles over the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller
III's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. President
Donald Trump has frequently attacked the FBI's former No. 2 official,
largely over political donations his wife took from an ally of Hillary
Clinton when she ran for a seat in the Virginia legislature. McCabe was
fired in March.
U.S. attorney's investigation into McCabe is likely to intensify
partisan squabbling, pitting respected law enforcement leaders against
one another and potentially giving Trump ammunition to attack.
and Comey are at odds over the inspector general's findings. McCabe
asserts that Comey knew he authorized the media disclosure, and Comey
claims otherwise. Comey has said he "could well be a witness" against
McCabe if McCabe were ever charged and tried.
also is somewhat at odds with Justice Department leaders.
oversaw an investigation, which now seems to have concluded, into
whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied to Congress about his
contacts with Russians. He also kept notes detailing an interaction with
Sessions' top deputy, Rod Rosenstein, that raise questions about a memo
Rosenstein wrote justifying Comey's firing.
memo took aim at Comey for his handling of the investigation into
Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state.
McCabe's notes, though, suggest Trump told Rosenstein before he authored
the memo to mention Russia - though it was unclear in what respect,
according to a person familiar with the matter.
contents of the memo, which ultimately did not mention Russia, were
first reported by the New York Times on Wednesday night. Bromwich
suggested in his statement that the Times report might have motivated a
disclosure of Comey's interview.
think it is no coincidence that these leaks follow within 24 hours of
media stories - based on other leaks whose source is unknown to us -
about memos written by Mr. McCabe that suggest potential criminal
conduct by the President," Bromwich said. "We will be demanding a leaks
interactions with Rosenstein could complicate any potential prosecution
of McCabe because Rosenstein would likely be involved in a final
decision on filing charges. McCabe has argued that the Justice
Department's actions against him, including his firing, are retaliatory
for his work on the Russia investigation.
is investigating Comey's firing as part of his examination into whether
Trump obstructed justice, and Rosenstein is supervising Mueller's probe.
The president has said publicly that the Russia case was on his mind
when he fired Comey, though he tweeted Thursday that he "never fired
James Comey because of Russia!"
fired McCabe from the bureau just 26 hours before he could retire, based
on the inspector general's findings and a recommendation from the FBI's
Office of Professional Responsibility.
next morning, Trump took to Twitter to celebrate the move.
McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI
- A great day for Democracy," he wrote. "Sanctimonious James Comey was
his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the
lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!"
the inspector general's telling, in seeking to advance his own
interests, McCabe authorized two FBI officials to talk to the Wall
Street Journal about a story he believed would cast him as standing in
the way of a probe of Hillary Clinton's foundation. Then, according to
the inspector general, McCabe misled Comey and FBI and inspector general
investigators about having done so.
October 2016 story offered a detailed look at debates inside the Justice
Department and FBI over two Clinton-related probes - the examination of
her private email server and the separate case involving the foundation.
It notably confirmed the existence of the foundation investigation and
described an episode in which McCabe pushed back against a Justice
Department official whom he perceived to be suggesting the FBI shut it
and McCabe offered varying accounts of who authorized the disclosure for
the article. They discussed the story the day after it was published,
and Comey, according to the inspector general's report, told
investigators McCabe "definitely did not tell me that he authorized" the
have a strong impression he conveyed to me, 'It wasn't me, boss.' And I
don't think that was by saying those words; I think it was most likely
by saying, 'I don't know how this s--- gets in the media or why would
people talk about this kind of thing,' words that I would fairly take as
'I, Andy, didn't do it,' " Comey said, according to the inspector
has countered that emails between the two "clearly show that Mr. McCabe
specifically advised Director Comey that he was working with colleagues
at the FBI to correct inaccuracies in the story before it was published,
and that they remained in contact through the weekend while the work was
taking place." Those emails, though, were in reference to a different
Wall Street Journal story about donations McCabe's wife had received
from a political action committee controlled by Terry McAuliffe, a
Clinton ally, McCabe's lawyer has acknowledged. The inspector general
ultimately credited Comey's account.
to Comey might not itself be a crime. But the inspector general alleged
McCabe misled investigators three other times.
told agents from the FBI inspection division on May 9, 2017, that he had
not authorized the disclosure and did not know who had, the inspector
general alleged. McCabe similarly told inspector general investigators
on July 28 that he was not aware of one of the FBI officials, lawyer
Lisa Page, having been authorized to speak to reporters, and because he
was not in Washington on the days she did so, he could not say what she
was doing. McCabe later admitted he authorized Page to talk to
inspector general also alleged that McCabe lied in a final conversation
in November, claiming that he had told Comey he had authorized the
disclosure and that he had not claimed otherwise to inspection division
agents in May.
has said previously that McCabe's statements are "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." He has also blasted McCabe's treatment and
asserted that the inspector general did not detail "any understandable
motive for his alleged wrongdoing."