Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has released his watchdog report on the conduct of former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and it is scathing. As I discussed in an earlier column, McCabe took the unprecedented step of a top former FBI officer of asking for donations on GoFundMe and racked in more than half a million dollars. He notably raised the money and then closed the site not long before the release of the report showing that he repeatedly made false statements to investigators as well as Comey. It was like creating a victim fund before police concludes whether you were attacked or the attacker. Horowitz did not convey any doubt as to McCabe being the culprit. He and his career staff found that McCabe not only lied but did so to advance his personal — the public’s — interest. If that is the case, it only magnifies the concerns over the treatment of McCabe as opposed to the Trump officials (like Michael Flynn) who he once investigated. The fact that he had the audacity to raise a half million dollars before the facts were made public only heightens these concerns.
At issue is the leak to The Wall Street Journal about an FBI probe of the Clinton Foundation.
Notably, the report itself belies the allegation of McCabe that he was victim of a witch hunt loyalists. Not only was Horowitz an Obama appointee but his staff were all career officials. More importantly, the report confirms that opened this review a week before Trump was sworn in. It preceded and had no connection to Mueller.
The report takes apart McCabe’s spin with clinical precision. It found that McCabe, 50, lied or misled investigators on not one but four occasions. It also found that these lies were clearly meant to help McCabe alone. McCabe said that he had full authority to make the disclosures. The IG found no evidence to support those claims. It also found that there was no evidence that then FBI Director James Comey was informed by McCabe. The IG states:
“[W]e concluded that McCabe’s decision to confirm the existence of the CF investigation through an anonymously sourced quote, recounting the content of a phone call with a senior department official in a manner designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of department leadership, was clearly not within the public interest exception.”
So let’s sum up. The IG found that McCabe lied on four occasions. It found that he did so for personal benefit. He further showed no contrition and allegedly falsely implicated his superior in the improper leaking of information to the media.
As noted earlier, Flynn was indicted for criminal false statements on less. He now faces a prison stint after pleading guilty to a single false statement about a meeting with Russian diplomats during the Trump presidential transition period. While Flynn did not deny the meeting, which was entirely legal, he denied discussing sanctions with the Russians. Mueller charged him with lying or misleading federal investigators under 18 U.S.C. 1001. He did so even though investigators working under former FBI Director James Comey reportedly had concluded that Flynn did not intend to lie and should not be charged criminally for the omission.
McCabe has used the Flynn defense that he was “confused and distracted” but unlike Flynn it appears (thus far) to have worked.
The issue is not as much the crying need to indict McCabe as it is the lack of consistency of how this law is being applied.