FBI’s McCabe ac­cuses Comey of false­hoods

Men give con­trast­ing ac­counts of meet­ing about me­dia leak

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

Fired FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey went to bat for Andrew McCabe on Jan. 29, tweet­ing that his one­time deputy di­rec­tor “stood tall when small peo­ple were try­ing to tear down an in­sti­tu­tion we all de­pend on.”

But in­side the Jus­tice De­part­ment last year, the two men, who had run the bureau as a team be­fore both were fired nearly a year apart, were locked in a bit­ter dis­pute over who was telling the truth. They pro­vided “starkly conflicting ac­counts” about a piv­otal pri­vate meet­ing that helped lead to Mr. McCabe’s fir­ing, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found.

Mr. McCabe’s at­tor­ney basically ac­cused Mr. Comey of ly­ing, or at least of lack­ing cred­i­bil­ity, in tes­ti­fy­ing about a con­ver­sa­tion the two had over a leak to The Wall Street Jour­nal. The at­tor­ney said the Jus­tice De­part­ment in­spec­tor gen­eral was anoint­ing Mr. Comey as a “white knight care­fully guard­ing FBI in­for­ma­tion while over­look­ing that Mr. McCabe’s ac­count is more cred­i­ble.”

Mr. McCabe ac­cused Mr. Comey of deny­ing the deputy’s version as a way to dis­tance him­self po­lit­i­cally from the Jour­nal leak.

Mr. Comey stren­u­ously dis­puted Mr. McCabe’s tes­ti­mony that he, the di­rec­tor, thought the leak was a good idea, ac­cord­ing to a Jus­tice De­part­ment in­spec­tor

gen­eral’s report re­leased Fri­day.

In­spec­tor Gen­eral Michael Horowitz ul­ti­mately sided with Mr. Comey as the truth teller.

The back­drop: Ac­cord­ing to the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s 35-page report, Mr. McCabe or­ches­trated the leak to The Jour­nal that dis­closed a phone call he had with a se­nior Obama Jus­tice De­part­ment of­fi­cial. The uniden­ti­fied of­fi­cial wanted the FBI to slow down an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion.

Mr. McCabe in­structed his spe­cial coun­sel in Oc­to­ber 2016 to anony­mously tell the Jour­nal re­porter that he, Mr. McCabe, stood up to Jus­tice.

At the time, Mr. McCabe was un­der in­tense pres­sure af­ter The Jour­nal dis­closed that his wife, as a Demo­cratic can­di­date for Vir­ginia’s state Se­nate in 2015, re­ceived nearly $500,000 from a po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee run by then-Vir­ginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. He is an in­te­gral part of the Bill and Hil­lary Clin­ton po­lit­i­cal team.

The ap­pear­ance of a con­flict of in­ter­est prompted Mr. Comey to kick Mr. McCabe off a con­fer­ence call in which aides were dis­cussing the FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Hil­lary Clin­ton’s use of an at-home email server to han­dle sen­si­tive clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion when she was sec­re­tary of state.

The McCabe-en­gi­neered leak vi­o­lated FBI rules for­bid­ding the dis­clo­sure of an on­go­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion — in this case the Clin­tons’ bil­lion­dol­lar char­ity that has taken mil­lions of dol­lars from for­eign donors.

Mr. Horowitz, the in­spec­tor gen­eral, con­cluded that Mr. McCabe lied four times (in FBI par­lance, he “lacked can­dor”), three times un­der oath to in­ves­ti­ga­tors and once to Mr. Comey.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions fired Mr. McCabe on March 16, days short of full re­tire­ment pay, based on a rec­om­men­da­tion from the FBI’s of­fice of pro­fes­sional re­spon­si­bil­ity. Pres­i­dent Trump fired Mr. Comey in May 2017.

The McCabe leak in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan with FBI agents and then shifted to Mr. Horowitz at Jus­tice.

Mr. McCabe at one point threw in­ves­ti­ga­tors off course by say­ing he had no idea where the leak came from while sug­gest­ing the guilty par­ties were of­fi­cials who heard about his phone call with the se­nior Jus­tice De­part­ment of­fi­cial.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral’s agents later com­plained that he had forced them to work nights and week­ends to run down those sup­posed of­fi­cials when the ac­tual leak­ers were Mr. McCabe and his spe­cial coun­sel. The in­spec­tor gen­eral’s report said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion did not find one FBI of­fi­cial, be­sides Mr. McCabe and his spe­cial coun­sel, who knew about the phone call.

Per­haps the most in­ter­est­ing as­pect of Mr. Horowitz’s de­tailed report was the Comey-McCabe stand­off.

The dis­pute cen­tered on the two pri­vately dis­cussing the Jour­nal leak in Mr. Comey’s of­fice on Oct. 31, 2016, the day af­ter the story ap­peared. The story con­tained the tid­bits of the Aug. 12 McCabeJus­tice phone call and the fact that there was an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion.

‘Small peo­ple’

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Comey, Mr. McCabe de­nied to him that he had any role in the leak.

“Comey and McCabe gave starkly conflicting ac­counts of this con­ser­va­tion,” the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s report said.

“McCabe as­serted that he ex­plic­itly told Comey dur­ing that con­ver­sa­tion that he au­tho­rized the dis­clo­sure and that Comey agreed it was a ‘good’ idea,” the report said.

Con­versely, “Comey de­scribed how McCabe gave Comey the im­pres­sion that McCabe had not au­tho­rized the dis­clo­sure about the [Aug. 12] call, was not in­volved in the dis­clo­sure and did not know how it hap­pened.”

Mr. Comey tes­ti­fied that weighty in­ves­ti­ga­tions, such as the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, would be dis­closed of­fi­cially only af­ter high-level Jus­tice-FBI dis­cus­sions and never via an anony­mous leak.

For ex­am­ple, Mr. Comey pub­licly con­firmed the Trump-Rus­sia col­lu­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tion at a March 20, 2017, House com­mit­tee hear­ing and noted that he had been au­tho­rized to do so.

“We found it highly im­prob­a­ble that Comey would have been ap­prov­ing of a de­ci­sion by McCabe to dis­close to a re­porter, on back­ground, in­for­ma­tion es­sen­tially con­firm­ing the ex­is­tence of an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion that Comey him­self had re­fused to con­firm when tes­ti­fy­ing be­fore Congress,” the in­spec­tor gen­eral said.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral squarely sided with Mr. Comey and con­cluded that Mr. McCabe had lied to him.

“As we note in the report, none of the cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence sup­ports McCabe’s claim, while the over­whelm­ing weight of the cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence sup­port’s Comey’s rec­ol­lec­tion,” Mr. Horowitz said. “In his sub­mis­sion, McCabe pre­sented no ev­i­dence to cor­rob­o­rate his version of events. In­stead, McCabe fo­cuses en­tirely on at­tack­ing the cred­i­bil­ity of Comey’s rec­ol­lec­tion.”

The in­spec­tor gen­eral con­cluded that Mr. McCabe’s mo­tives were not pure, that he wanted to counter a nar­ra­tive that he was bi­ased in fa­vor of the Clin­tons.

“McCabe’s dis­clo­sure was an at­tempt to make him­self look good by mak­ing se­nior de­part­ment lead­er­ship, specif­i­cally the Prin­ci­pal As­so­ciate Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral, look bad,” the report said.

Even though Mr. McCabe and Mr. Comey took starkly dif­fer­ent po­si­tions against each other, the for­mer di­rec­tor voiced un­qual­i­fied sup­port for his for­mer deputy this win­ter af­ter news of the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s pend­ing con­clu­sions broke.

Mr. Comey tweeted, “Spe­cial Agent Andrew McCabe stood tall over the last 8 months, when small peo­ple were try­ing to tear down an in­sti­tu­tion we all de­pend on. He served with dis­tinc­tion for two decades. I wish Andy well.”

By “small peo­ple,” Mr. Comey may have been re­fer­ring to Repub­li­cans on the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence.

Led by Chair­man Devin Nunes of Cal­i­for­nia, the com­mit­tee’s Repub­li­cans forced the Jus­tice De­part­ment to re­veal that the FBI had re­lied on the dis­cred­ited Christo­pher Steele dossier to per­suade a judge to au­tho­rize wire­taps on Trump cam­paign vol­un­teer Carter Page.

Mr. Nunes ac­cused the FBI of mis­lead­ing the judge by fail­ing to dis­close that the dossier was fi­nanced by the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and the Hil­lary Clin­ton cam­paign. Those fund­ing sources were dis­cov­ered by Mr. Nunes via sub­poe­nas for bank records of the in­ves­tiga­tive firm Fu­sion GPS, which hired Mr. Steele.

In an­other FBI mis­step, spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller fired his lead FBI agent, Pe­ter Str­zok, af­ter learn­ing of text mes­sages be­tween Mr. Str­zok and his lover, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, that showed bias against Mr. Trump.

Mr. Comey’s book, “A Higher Loy­alty,” will be re­leased Tues­day and will have plenty of at­tacks on Mr. Trump.

Mr. McCabe’s dis­missal has el­e­vated him to hero sta­tus by lib­er­als and Democrats, some of whom promised to hire him for enough days to earn a full 20-year re­tire­ment.

Mr. McCabe’s GoFundMe page raised more than $500,000 for le­gal ex­penses.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Andrew McCabe ac­cused his for­mer boss, fired FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey, of deny­ing his version of a dis­cus­sion as a way to dis­tance him­self from a leak to The Wall Street Jour­nal. The McCabe-en­gi­neered leak vi­o­lated FBI rules for­bid­ding the dis­clo­sure of an on­go­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion — in this case about the Clin­tons.

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