FILE – In this May 11, 2017, file photo then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe listens on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Justice Department has repeatedly refused to provide McCabe with documents related to his firing, according to a lawsuit filed on his behalf Tuesday, June 12, 2018. McCabe was fired less than two days before his scheduled retirement amid allegations that he had misled internal investigators. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), recently obtained documents requested in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI. The records relate to the termination of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Although CREW claims to be a non-partisan group, a glance at their activities suggests the opposite. They appear to disproportionately target Republicans and conservative-leaning groups. That is to say, the purpose of their FOIA request was made to find information that would help McCabe in his wrongful termination lawsuit, specifically to prove that McCabe’s firing did not follow standard agency procedures. (They did not intend to dig up dirt on him.) After reviewing the new documents, CREW contends that, although FBI internal rules require senior officials be given no less than 30 days notice before being terminated, McCabe was informed just eight days before his firing.
At any rate, included in the records are the transcripts of FBI agents’ interviews with McCabe in May and August 2017. The transcripts show that McCabe lied to them in May and when his lie was brought up again in August, he admitted it and “showed remorse.”
On May 9, 2017, the same day that former FBI Director James Comey was fired, agents interviewed McCabe about a Wall Street Journal article published shortly before the 2016 election. The article was “about an FBI investigation involving then-candidate Hillary Clinton, describing internal discussions among senior FBI officials.” He told the agents he had no idea who had leaked the story.
According to the Daily Beast, “a few months later, his story changed after he reviewed his answer.”
The Daily Beast reports:
The investigator said that “things had suddenly changed 180 degrees with this.” The interviewers stopped taking notes on what McCabe was saying, and the agent indicated their view of McCabe had changed: He was no longer a witness or victim. “In our business, we stop and say, look, now we’re getting into an area for due process,” the agent said.
But the agent said that the team did not raise that line of thought with McCabe. “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’s next comments to McCabe took on a frustrated tone.
“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.”
Michael R. Bromwich, then-counsel for McCabe, has said “his story changed because in the initial interview he wasn’t prepared for the question. The question surprised him, and he didn’t give his answer a second thought because Comey was fired shortly after the interview concluded and his world turned upside down.”
That defense only goes so far. It’s understandable that McCabe had been blindsided upon hearing of Comey’s firing and being thrust into the position of Acting FBI Director. But chaos doesn’t last forever, and life returns to equilibrium, perhaps not an equilibrium that one is happy with or gets used to, but still relative calm returns. Certainly, within a month, McCabe should have spoken up about his false statement.
But this was not the only lie McCabe had told.
Eclipsing his lie to internal FBI examiners, were the multiple lies McCabe told to investigators on DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s team during their probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server as Secretary of State. Horowitz rightly issued a criminal referral over those.
One final point – it’s funny how none of the people who witnessed first hand lies and wrongdoing on the part of high-level government officials were willing to blow the whistle.