Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe apologized for lying to federal investigators concerning an October 2016 leak to The Wall Street Journal about the Hillary Clinton email probe, newly released transcripts indicate — underscoring McCabe’s legal jeopardy as U.S. Attorney John Durham continues the Justice Department’s criminal probe into bureau misconduct.
The transcripts specifically raised the possibility that McCabe, now a paid CNN commentator, could face a false statements charge similar to the one leveled against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The account of McCabe’s remarks was released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general (IG) because of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C.
The IG concluded in 2018 that McCabe “lacked candor” when speaking to then-FBI Director James Comey and DOJ Oversight and Review (O&R) internal investigators about the leak to the Journal on May 9, 2017. In the transcripts, released Thursday, an unidentified O&R investigator asserted that McCabe had claimed “he did not grant anyone permission to divulge the information to the media” and that he “personally hadn’t shared the information” or “granted anyone else permission to.”
But on Aug. 18, 2017, McCabe’s story changed when he was confronted with other evidence, including emails and witness accounts, that conflicted with his prior statements. Asked again whether he was aware of the leak to the Journal and had personally authorized it, McCabe was unequivocal.
“And as nice as could be, he said, ‘Yep. Yep I did,'” the FBI agent said, according to the transcripts.
The Journal story — written just days before the presidential election – focused on the FBI announcing the reopening of the Clinton investigation after finding thousands of her emails on a laptop belonging to former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, who at the time was married to Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
The Journal’s account of the call said a senior Justice Department official expressed displeasure to McCabe that FBI agents were still looking into the Clinton Foundation, and that McCabe had defended the agent’s authority to pursue the issue.
That leak confirmed the existence of the probe, the report said, which Comey had up to that point refused to do.
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