Fired FBI Director James Comey appeared to be defending his former deputy director Andrew McCabe in January when he tweeted that McCabe “stood tall when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on,” when really The Washington Times reports that the two were locked in a bitter dispute their last year before both were fired.
It is reported that the two FBI agents were locked in a battle about telling the truth. They provided “starkly conflicting accounts” about a pivotal private meeting that helped lead to McCabe’s firing, an investigation has found.
McCabe’s attorney basically accused 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 Comey as a “white knight carefully guarding FBI information while overlooking that McCabe’s account is more credible.”
McCabe accused Comey of denying the deputy’s version as a way to distance himself politically from the journal leak. Comey strenuously disputed 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 E. Horowitz ultimately sided with Comey as the truth teller.
The backstory of this fight is that according to the inspector general’s 35-page report, 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.
McCabe instructed his special counsel in October 2016 to anonymously tell the Journal reporter that he, stood up to Justice.
At the time, 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 form a poltical 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 Comey to kick McCabe off a conference call in which aides were discussing the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private 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 Clinton’s billion-dollar charity that has taken millions of dollars from foreign donors.
Horowitz, the inspector general, concluded that McCabe lied four times, free times under oath to investigators and once to Comey.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired 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 Comey in May 2017.
The McCabe leak investigation began with FBI agents and then shifted to Mr. Horowitz at Justice.
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 McCabe and his special counsel. The inspector general’s report said the investigation did not find one FBI official, besides McCabe and his special counsel, who knew about the phone call.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Horowitz’s detailed report was the Comey-McCabe standoff.
The dispute centered on the two privately discussing the Journal leak in Comey’s office on Oct. 31, 2016, the day after the story appeared. The story contained the tidbits of the Aug. 12 McCabe-Justice phone call and the fact that there was an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.