Andrew McCabe, former FBI deputy director, won’t face criminal charges

Andrew McCabe, former FBI deputy director, won’t face criminal charges

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department will not file criminal charges in a leak investigation of Andrew McCabe, ending an investigation that has hung over the former deputy FBI director for two years.

“Based on the totality of the circumstances and all of the information known to the Government at this time, we consider the matter closed,” the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia told McCabe’s attorneys in a letter Friday.

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department will not file criminal charges in a leak investigation of Andrew McCabe, ending an investigation that has hung over the former deputy FBI director for two years.

“Based on the totality of the circumstances and all of the information known to the Government at this time, we consider the matter closed,” the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia told McCabe’s attorneys in a letter Friday.

The decision comes amid allegations that the Justice Department has bowed to pressure from President Donald Trump, most recently by reversing course on the recommended sentence for Trump ally Roger Stone.

Trump attacked federal prosecutors after they asked a judge to sentence Stone to seven to nine years in prison. The Justice Department backtracked, and the entire prosecution team quit in apparent protest.

On Thursday, Barr said Trump did not ask him to intervene in the case.

“I am not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody … whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board or the president,” Barr said in an ABC News interview. “I’m gonna do what I think is right. I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”

Trump has called for the prosecution of several former FBI officials, including McCabe. He opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump in 2017, after the president fired FBI director James Comey. 

At the time, Comey was leading an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

Roger Stone sentencing: With DOJ’s intervention in Roger Stone case, William Barr cements his role as Trump’s defender-in-chief

The investigation into McCabe stemmed from a Justice Department Inspector General’s report that found he improperly authorized a leak about a federal investigation into the Clinton Foundation in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. Investigators concluded he displayed a lack of candor when asked about the leak. 

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe just before his retirement in March 2018.

In a statement, McCabe attorneys Michael Bromwich and David Schertler said: “At long last, justice has been done in this matter. We said at the outset of the criminal investigation, almost two years ago, that if the facts and the law determined the result, no charges would be brought. We are pleased that Andrew McCabe and his family can go on with their lives without this cloud hanging over them.”

McCabe, who became acting FBI director after Trump fired Comey in May 2017, has been a frequent target of the president’s attacks. Trump contends law enforcement officials launched partisan investigations of him, his campaign and his administration. Those probes have led to convictions of a half-dozen of Trump’s onetime aides and advisers. 

Trump applauded Sessions’ decision to fire McCabe, calling it “a great day for democracy.” Trump has argued McCabe’s conduct was akin to treason, claiming he favored Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent for president in 2016.

Friday’s decision caps a series of accusations of wrongdoing by the FBI’s top leaders in 2016. Internal investigators have faulted McCabe and Comey for violating Justice Department rules in the final months of an election in which federal agents were investigating both major-party candidates. Lower-level FBI staffers were fired or reassigned.

The Justice Department announced in August that Comey had violated FBI policies for keeping private memos about his conversations with Trump and then having a friend describe the contents of some of them to The New York Times. But the department didn’t charge Comey with a crime.

McCabe was fired after the inspector general investigated whether a Wall Street Journal story about the Clinton Foundation resulted from an unauthorized leak and if so, who leaked it. The story appeared online Oct. 30, 2016, and in print the next day, which was a week after another story reported that McCabe had terminated the foundation probe under pressure from the Justice Department. 

Investigators determined that McCabe authorized associates to tell The Wall Street Journal about an Aug. 12 call between him and the principal associate deputy attorney general. The call effectively confirmed the existence of the Clinton Foundation investigation, which Comey had refused to do.

McCabe allowed the release of that information in order to show he was impartial regarding the Clinton Foundation investigation, even as his wife accepted a campaign contribution from a Clinton ally. 

The inspector general found McCabe “lacked candor” when he said he hadn’t authorized the disclosure and didn’t know who did. This happened several times, including when McCabe talked to Comey, when he was questioned under oath by FBI agents, and when he was questioned under oath by investigators for former special counsel Robert Mueller. 

McCabe filed a lawsuit in August challenging his dismissal, alleging he was fired because he refused to cater to Trump’s “unlawful whims.” McCabe’s abrupt termination came after he had announced his intention to resign and days before his retirement benefits would have kicked in.

Trump called McCabe “a major sleazebag” and has said he took “massive amounts of money” for his wife’s unsuccessful Democratic campaign for state Senate in Virginia.

Trump was referring to contributions Jill McCabe received from a political action committee tied to former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton ally.

But internal FBI documents showed that McCabe didn’t oversee the Clinton Foundation investigation while his wife was running for office, and he didn’t have a conflict of interest. 

The decision about McCabe follows inquiries into how the Justice Department and the FBI initiated investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Barr assigned one internal probe in May.

In December, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded the FBI’s surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page was riddled with errors

FISA investigation: FBI wiretap of Trump campaign aide was riddled with errors, but Russia probe was legally justified, IG report finds

The voluminous report focused on whether the FBI violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, when it sought court-ordered surveillance of Page in late 2016.

Horowtiz’s office identified 17 separate inaccuracies across three surveillance applications, effectively inflating the justification for monitoring Page.

However, the inspector general concluded the FBI was legally justified in launching its inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. 

More about former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe:

Former FBI official Andrew McCabe sues over his firing, says he was ousted to satisfy Trump’s ‘unlawful whims’

Andrew McCabe ‘confident’ top lawmakers understood FBI had launched probe into President Trump

Andrew McCabe: Top lawmakers were told the FBI was investigating Trump and ‘no one objected’

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