Former deputy (and, for a time, acting) FBI Director Andrew McCabe could face prosecution, now that U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jesse Liu (a Trump appointee) has ruled the criminal referral against him, courtesy of Inspector General Michael Horowitz (an Obama appointee), can go forward. I was going to explain the road this case has traveled –- since April of last year –- to reach this point, but Andrew C. McCarthy has just done that so clearly that I’ll link to his commentary at the end.
But first, I want to look at one aspect of the case that, oddly, isn’t getting much attention from either conservative or mainstream media, though I think it will, certainly if McCabe is indicted and goes to trial. We’ve been focusing on the “Andy” McCabe of “Andy’s office,” where he, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and others apparently met and talked about about an “insurance policy” in the very unlikely event Trump won the election. Our focus on that has been for good reason, as he was part of a group that appears for all the world to have been “colluding” to stop the election of Donald Trump and, later, the ascension to office of a duly-elected President of the United States. Serious stuff; in fact, Joe diGenova, in and interview with Sean Hannity Thursday night, had no problem whatsoever with calling it sedition.
McCabe and others might still face charges for actions related to this alleged conspiracy, and even the charge of conspiracy itself –- in fact, they’d sure better. But the charge we’re talking about right now isn’t directly about the effort to take down Trump. It has to do with the Hillary Clinton investigation –- oh, excuse me, “matter.”
Just a few days before the election, McCabe ordered the leak of a conversation in which the Obama Justice Department had, he said, pressured the FBI to “stand down” on their investigation of Hillary.
Say what?? That’s right, and he later got into trouble for trying to cover up the leak by lying to questioners at the FBI and even by diverting blame to his colleagues. (He was fired for this but was subsequently hired as a contributor to CNN, joining an ever-growing stable of former Obama administration officials they’ve assembled on their staff. I digress.)
So, class, what would have motivated McCabe to leak about the HILLARY investigation, when we know the DOJ was trying to minimize that as much as possible and the top FBI people wanted her to win? Anyone?
Well, recall the story that appeared in the Wall Street Journal about McCabe’s wife receiving a donation of $675,000, a huge amount, for her state senate race (that she still lost) from a PAC controlled by longtime Clinton crony and then-governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe. This story broke about two weeks before the election, and the appearance of impropriety here was indeed staggering.
According to sources for the WSJ reporter on that story, McCabe himself had told agents back in July not to let on that they were investigating the Clinton Foundation. If true, that would ramp up the already considerable appearance of impropriety substantially.
When the reporter, Devlin Barrett, called the Bureau to ask questions about this for his follow-up to the story on McCabe’s wife’s donation, it was getting really close to the election, and Comey, as you’ll recall, had coincidentally just re-opened the Clinton email case because of classified material on Anthony Weiner’s laptop (of all places). Apparently, Comey excluded McCabe from meetings about that, out of concern that the story about his wife’s Clinton-related donation might have made the Hillary investigation look biased in her favor. (Editorial comment: even though IT WAS.)
It seems that McCabe took this extremely personally and reacted to it like a man with a wasp in his undershorts, and he decided to bend over backwards to preserve his appearance of objectivity. He called Lisa Page, who was then his general counsel, and told her to counter Barrett’s story by leaking that a DOJ official had called him to talk about backing off the Clinton Foundation probe and that he had stood strong like the mighty oak in defense of the FBI’s pursuit of her. (Of course, we have evidence now that the claim the Obama Justice Department/FBI was seriously investigating Hillary Clinton is a pile of bull droppings. I again digress.)
THAT, not anything about Trump, was the subject of the leak he ordered. And in the end, as McCarthy explained it last year, McCabe “dishonestly denied knowledge of the leak he had ordered, covered his tracks by deflecting blame, and –- when he finally admitted his role –- falsely suggested that Comey had been aware and approving of his actions. McCabe lies to his boss, he lies to his fellow agents, and he lies –- under oath –- in interviews conducted by the FBI’s internal investigators and the IG. Even when he changes his story, McCabe lies about the lies.”
So. McCabe’s leaking was about HILLARY, not the “Trump/Russia” investigation. This makes me think that he has a lot more to worry about if he goes to trial in Washington, DC, than we might have assumed. The jury pool is going to skew heavily Democrat; these are Hillary folks. Think they are going to be objective? If McCabe had leaked information damaging to Trump, it could be argued that he’d likely walk. (He’d likely be awarded a medal, ha.) But to make himself look better, he’d leaked information potentially damaging to Hilary, and he’d also dared to say that the DOJ was pressuring the FBI to go easy on her. For that, he can never be forgiven.
Incidentally, McCabe has reportedly said that if he is indicted, his defense will be that the Justice Department was under political pressure from the Trump White House to go after him. Considering what it was that he leaked –- something in his own self-interest that implicated Hillary and the Obama DOJ, not Trump –- I don’t think that’s going to fly, even with a D.C. jury.
As for federal charges relating to the efforts to bring down Trump, all of that is separate, and decisions will come later, subsequent to U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation.
Highly recommended: For lots more background and detail on the case, here’s what McCarthy wrote last year…