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United States

Ex-FBI deputy Andrew McCabe will be criticised in watchdog report on Clinton case: source

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 12:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 12:37pm

The US Justice Department’s inspector general is expected to criticise former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe as part of its investigation into the bureau’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday night.

McCabe, a frequent target of President Donald Trump’s ire, left his position in January as the FBI’s No 2 official and is scheduled to retire later this month after more than 20 years with the bureau. He served for several months as acting director following Trump’s firing last May of FBI Director James Comey.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a forthcoming inspector general report, said the criticism of McCabe was expected to be in connection with a media disclosure and a question of whether proper procedures were followed in the release of information.

Spokespeople for the Justice Department, the FBI and the inspector general declined to comment Thursday evening. McCabe did not return a phone message seeking comment.

The New York Times, which first reported the finding, said the inspector general report would conclude that McCabe had authorised FBI officials to provide information for a Wall Street Journal article in October 2016.

That article, published days after Comey notified Congress that the FBI was revisiting the Clinton investigation following the discovery of a new batch of emails, described tensions between the Justice Department and FBI over how aggressively Clinton and the Clinton Foundation should be investigated. The story described Justice Department officials as sceptical of the FBI’s evidence and discouraging of an aggressive pursuit of potential financial crimes involving the Clinton Foundation.

The inspector general in January 2017 announced a wide-ranging investigation into the FBI’s actions during the Clinton email investigation, which concluded without charges in 2016. Included in the review are apparent leaks to the news media during the investigation and Comey’s decision to publicly announce the FBI’s recommendation that Clinton not face charges over her handling of classified email in a private server, as well as his subsequent notification to Congress days before the election that new emails had been found.

Trump verbally attacked McCabe during the campaign and again as president because McCabe’s wife, during a failed state Senate run, had accepted campaign contributions from the political action committee of then-Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton ally. The FBI has said McCabe received the necessary ethics approval and was not supervising the Clinton email case at the time of the contributions. When news broke in late December that McCabe planned to retire in the spring, Trump mocked him on Twitter as “racing the clock to retire with full benefits.”

Inspector General Michael Horowitz has previously said he expects the report to be released in March or April.

His office made headlines this week when Trump, in an angry tweet directed at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, erroneously suggested that the inspector general’s report was late. Trump also criticised Sessions for encouraging the inspector general to investigate potential surveillance abuses by the FBI in the early stages of the Russia investigation, saying that such a probe should be handled instead by “Justice Department lawyers.”