Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, 2017. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — who is set to retire Sunday following speculation he was involved in misleading investigators about improperly green-lighting sensitive information to the media — a “bad actor” at her briefing Thursday.
Her remarks come on the heels of the revelation Wednesday that the employee discipline office of the FBI recommends firing McCabe before he retires, a move that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would have to make given McCabe’s seniority within the agency.
McCabe’s troubles are related to an as-yet-unreleased report that alleges the Deputy Director allowed bureau representatives — including Lisa Page, who is implicated in the FISA abuse investigation — to speak to the media in 2016 about ongoing criminal investigations regarding the Clinton family foundation, which he then subsequently lied about to investigators.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz has for some time been working on a report that blasts McCabe for allowing two high-ranking bureau officials to sit down with the Wall Street Journal as the news outlet prepared a report in 2016 on an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s family foundation, then misleading the inspector general’s team about his actions. A person familiar with the matter said Horowitz’s findings are what sparked the Office of Professional Responsibility’s recommendation, which was first reported by the New York Times. Horowitz’s report has not been released, and McCabe denies having misled anyone, a person familiar with the case said.
McCabe, who briefly took over as FBI Director after President Donald Trump fired former Director James Comey in May, would lose the benefits he is expected to receive during retirement should he be fired. He was at the Department of Justice Thursday, presumably asking leadership within the agency to instead allow him to retire.
The allegations against McCabe are part of Horowitz’s investigation into agency misconduct related to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. The implication is that McCabe attempted to use the media to try to turn public opinion against the Clinton email server probe by allowing agents to discuss another Clinton investigation involving the foundation.
Trump has indicated a desire to let McCabe go without benefits. He said in December that the former Director was “racing the clock to retire with full benefits.”