Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe could be facing potential criminal prosecution after admitting that he lied to agents about leaking to the press.
McCabe denied that he was the source of a leak to the Wall Street Journal in 2017 but flip-flopped and revealed his role, later telling internal FBI investigators that he was “sorry” for misleading them, newly released transcripts revealed.
(Video: Fox News)
McCabe, who sued the FBI and the Justice Department after being fired in March 2018, could be charged with making a false statement as the newly released documents show his conversations with investigators who had been working hard to uncover the source of the leak.
The transcripts revealing McCabe’s conversation were released by the Department of Justice inspector general after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C.
Just ahead of the 2016 election, The Wall Street Journal had reported about an FBI investigation involving then-candidate Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. The FBI’s internal investigation team spoke with McCabe in May 2017, just as then-FBI Director James Comey was fired by President Donald Trump.
McCabe denied that he was the source of the leak – which confirmed the existence of a Clinton investigation – but months later, as officials spoke to him again in an attempt to unravel what they said was “conflicting information” about the leak, McCabe came clean and admitted he was the WSJ’s source.
In his initial conversation, McCabe claimed “he did not grant anyone permission to divulge the information to the media” and that he “personally hadn’t shared the information” or “granted anyone else permission to,” according to the DOJ Oversight and Review investigator.
But in the Aug. 18, 2017 interview, things came out in the open.
“I need to know from you,” an agent recounted asking McCabe, “did you authorize this article? Were you aware of it? Did you authorize it?”
“And as nice as could be, he said, ‘yep. Yep, I did,’” the agent recalled McCabe’s response.
According to the transcripts, the agent noted that “things had suddenly changed 180 degrees with this.”
“In our business, we stop and say, look, now we’re getting into an area for due process,” the agent said.
“I was very careful to say… with all due respect, this is what you told us. This has caused us some kind of, you know, sidetracking here now with some information other people have told us,” the agent recalled. “I remember saying to him, at, I said, ‘Sir, you understand that we’ve put a lot of work into this based on what you told us.”
McCabe’s response, which appeared to frustrate the agent, was then revealed.
“I remember saying to him, at, I said, ‘sir, you understand that we’ve put a lot of work into this based on what you told us,’” the agent said. “I mean, and I even said, long nights and weekends working on this, trying to find out who amongst your ranks of trusted people would, would do something like that. And he kind of just looked down, kind of nodded, and said ‘yeah I’m sorry.’”
McCabe’s legal team indicated that the former acting director of the FBI had not been prepared for the question in the first interview with investigators and didn’t go back to correct it due to being distracted by Comey’s firing, according to the Daily Beast.
Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe over the leak two days before he was to retire and the DOJ Inspector General later accused him of lying to investigators and referred the investigation to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Though McCabe has not been charged with any crime, a false statement charge could be similar to the one brought against former national security adviser Michael Flynn during the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
“Why is it, throughout this entire process, that if you’ve worked with Trump, if you supported Trump or you’re around Trump, then – no matter what – we’re throwing the absolute book at you with the full weight of everything we have,” Fox News host Pete Hegseth mused during a segment on “Outnumbered” on Thursday.
“Initial crime or secondary crime, we’re coming after you,” he said, citing examples like Flynn, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is currently serving a prison sentence for federal financial crimes.
“But if you’re Andy McCabe, or you’re Jim Comey and you’re sincere about it, you apologize and you’re sorry, then we should just look the other way or move on,” he said, noting the double standard.
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