While Katie wrote up the scathing IG report that cited the many times former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lied under oath to investigators and the DOJ inspector general about the bureau’s investigations into Hillary Clinton, it also re-confirmed something that fell by the wayside in recent months. That the FBI was indeed investigating the Clinton Foundation, something that then-FBI Director James Comey refused to confirm or deny. It also detailed the fallout from the leaks to The Wall Street Journal, which reported on the friction between the DOJ and FBI over the Clinton Foundation probe:
The Clinton Foundation Investigation
As detailed below, the disclosures by Special Counsel to the WSJ on October 27 and 28 included statements effectively confirming the existence of the CF Investigation. Prior to October 27 and 28, the FBI had not publicly confirmed the existence of the CF Investigation, or issued any statements to the media discussing the details of that investigation.
B. Events Leading to the October 30 Article and its Aftermath
1. Comey Refuses To Confirm the Existence of the CF Investigation (July 7) or Other Investigations (September 28)
In testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on July 7, 2016, FBI Director Comey refused to answer questions about whether the FBI was investigating the Clinton Foundation. Comey stated that he was “not going to comment on the existence or nonexistence” of the CF Investigation. Similarly, in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on September 28, 2016, Comey refused to confirm or deny two different investigations during an FBI oversight hearing. He stated: “our standard is we do not confirm or deny the existence of investigations.”
2. McCabe–PADAG Call on the CF Investigation (August 12)
McCabe told the OIG that on August 12, 2016, he received a telephone call from PADAG [Principle associate deputy attorney general] regarding the FBI’s handling of the CF Investigation (the “PADAG call”). McCabe said that PADAG expressed concerns about FBI agents taking overt steps in the CF Investigation during the presidential campaign. According to McCabe, he pushed back, asking “are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?” McCabe told us that the conversation was “very dramatic” and he never had a similar confrontation like the PADAG call with a high- level Department official in his entire FBI career.
3. The October 23 WSJ Article and Aftermath
On October 23, 2016, the WSJ published online an article by reporter Devlin Barrett stating that a political-action committee (PAC) run by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Virginia Democratic Party (over which the article reported McAuliffe “exerts considerable control”) collectively donated nearly $675,000 to the 2015 unsuccessful state senate campaign of the wife of Andrew McCabe.1 The article described McAuliffe as “an influential Democrat with long-standing ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton” and noted that McCabe was an FBI official “who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use.” The article contained an official FBI statement that McCabe “played no role” in his wife’s 2015 state senate campaign and was promoted to FBI Deputy Director months after his wife’s defeat “where, . . . he assumed for the first time, an oversight role in the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s emails.” According to the article, FBI officials stated that McCabe’s supervision of the Clinton E-mail case in 2016 did not present a conflict or ethics issues because his wife’s campaign was over by then. The article went on to note that when the Clinton E-mail Investigation was launched in July 2015, Mr. McCabe was “running the FBI’s Washington, D.C., field office, which provided personnel and resources to the Clinton email probe.”
Immediately following online publication of the article, there was substantial public discussion as to whether McCabe’s oversight of the Clinton E-mail Investigation had been appropriate in light of the information in the article.2 Additionally, on October 24, 2016, Barrett e-mailed the AD/OPA about a follow-on story that he was working on. In that e-mail, Barrett asked AD/OPA a number of questions about McCabe’s involvement in certain matters, including the CF Investigation. In particular, Barrett’s e-mail said that he was told that: in the summer, McCabe himself gave some instruction as to how to proceed with the Clinton Foundation probe, given that it was the height of election season and the FBI did not want to make a lot of overt moves that could be seen as going after [Clinton] or drawing attention to the probe.
Barrett’s e-mail asked AD/OPA “[h]ow accurate are those descriptions? Anything else I should know?” As detailed in Section 6 below, McCabe subsequently instructed Special Counsel to provide information to Barrett for the follow-on story.
4. The Attorney General Expresses Strong Concerns to McCabe and other FBI Officials about Leaks, and McCabe Discusses Recusing Himself from CF Investigation (October 26)
McCabe told the OIG that during the October 2016 time frame, it was his “perception that there was a lot of information coming out of likely the [FBI’s] New York Field Office” that was ending up in the news. McCabe told the OIG that he “had some heated back-and-forths” with the New York Assistant Director in Charge (“NY-ADIC”) over the issue of media leaks.
1 A print version of the article was published in the WSJ on Monday, October 24, 2016.
2 In January 2017, the OIG announced it would conduct a review of allegations regarding
various actions by the Department and the FBI in advance of the 2016 election, including allegations that McCabe should have been recused from participating in certain investigative matters.
On October 26, 2016, McCabe and NY-ADIC participated in what McCabe described as “a hastily convened conference call with the Attorney General who delivered the same message to us” about leaks, with specific focus being on leaks regarding the high-profile investigation by FBI’s New York Field Office into the death of Eric Garner. McCabe told us that he “never heard her use more forceful language.” NY-ADIC confirmed that the participants got “ripped by the AG on leaks.”
According to NY-ADIC’s testimony and an e-mail he sent to himself on October 31, McCabe indicated to NY-ADIC and a then-FBI Executive Assistant Director (“EAD”) in a conversation after Attorney General Lynch disconnected from the call that McCabe was recusing himself from the CF Investigation. According to NY-ADIC’s e-mail, McCabe told them “he may make a more formal decision at a later time.” NY-ADIC stated during his OIG interview: “I think [McCabe] couched it as like, hey, this is not final . . . I don’t know, I think he says he still has to talk about it.” NY-ADIC stated that he clarified with McCabe that unless McCabe told him otherwise, NY-ADIC would begin reporting to EAD on the CF Investigation.
McCabe, however, told the OIG that he did not recall such a conversation. He said, “I suppose it's possible that I may have referred to the concept if that was being discussed generally at the time. But I would not have said to [NY-ADIC], like, I'm thinking about recusing.”
2 FBI Executives told the IG they each received calls from McCabe admonishing them for CF Foundation leaks contained in the Oct 30 WSJ article. At no time did McCabe disclose to either of them that he had authorized Lisa Page to disclose info about the CF Investigation to the WSJ pic.twitter.com/vxLuGwrMAa— Nick Short ???? (@PoliticalShort) April 13, 2018
McCabe then told the IG “he did not recall calling either of the FBI executives to reprimand them for leaks in the Oct 30 WSJ article.” That’s a lie.— Nick Short ???? (@PoliticalShort) April 13, 2018
Also, McCabe's wife, Jill, said that her husband separated himself from her state senate run in Virginia, except that he used his FBI email to push her campaign, which is a possible Hatch Act violation. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, surely noticed.
It’s a mess. And it doesn’t just end with Mr. McCabe. Mr. Comey is about to launch his book tour soon. A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership details Comey’s career in the Department of Justice. There will be a laser focus on his final months as FBI director. We’ve already had some eye raising revelations, specifically on when he informed Congress about the new FBI review into Clinton emails found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Weiner is married to longtime Hillary aide Huma Abedin and it was later discovered that both shared the device. The FBI was analyzing Weiner's laptop when he was being investigated for inappropriate communications with an underage girl (via NYT):
As for his controversial disclosure on Oct. 28, 2016, 11 days before the election, that the F.B.I. was reviewing more Clinton emails that might be pertinent to its earlier investigation, Comey notes here that he had assumed from media polling that Clinton was going to win. He has repeatedly asked himself, he writes, whether he was influenced by that assumption: “It is entirely possible that, because I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls. But I don’t know.”
Yet, overall, there reportedly isn’t a lot of new material. One thing that Fox News host Chris Wallace noted was how “bitchy” the book is (via Free Beacon):
"What strikes me is how little new there is in the book. We get a lot of opinions, very unpleasant opinions of the president by James Comey but in terms of hard facts, people are talking about bombshells, there are none," Wallace said. "The other thing that surprises me frankly is how bitchy the book is."
Wallace continued to list all the personal attacks on Trump that Comey wrote in his new book.
"Comey goes out of his way to say the president isn't as tall as he thought he was. He checked out the size of his hands the first time they shook hands. That he noticed the president seemed to have little white half moons under his eyes. Maybe he had sun-tanning goggles that he wore," Wallace said. "One could argue that by getting into the kind of political food fight, that James Comey has done more damage to his own reputation than he has to President Trump's."
Host Sandra Smith asked Wallace about Comey comparing Trump to a mob boss.
"Again, it goes back to my original point. What you get is Comey's opinions. He doesn't like Donald Trump and he is offended by Donald Trump and he thinks Donald Trump is a bad guy and yes, he does compare him to a mob boss," Wallace said.
Many have voiced concern that Comey would execute his role as the leader of the nation’s preeminent domestic law enforcement agency based on poll numbers; the rule of law gauged by number crunchers. For some on the Left, like Democratic strategist Paul Begala, he doesn’t know if Comey is a liar, but he admitted that he sides with the RNC, who created a Lyin’ Comey site, in that the former FBI director was very selective with the truth (via NTK Network):
I have no love for James Comey. I’m with the RNC on this. I don’t know if he’s a liar, though. That’s a difference. He’s not a liar. I don’t know that he lied, but the problem is he told the truth very selectively, attacking Hillary Clinton and not ever revealing that Trump was under investigation, too.”
Either way, with both men, it’s a story of how they ruined the reputation of the FBI, one that will take many years to rebuild. Both men were fired from their jobs. Comey was fired by Trump in May of 2017. McCabe was fired in March, days away from collecting a multi-million dollar pension plan.
That IG report on McCabe is, uh, wow. Damning and detailed. I don't care what side of the fence you're on, everyone at this point has plenty of evidence showing FBI leadership made politically sensitive investigations much worse by being dishonest and/or self-serving.— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) April 13, 2018