The Justice Department Inspector General alleges in a damaging report made public Friday that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe inappropriately authorized the disclosure of sensitive information to a reporter and then misled investigators and former FBI Director James B. Comey about it on several occasions.
The report is remarkable for its level of detail, casting McCabe as a man who lied to investigators and his own boss about his role in a disclosure of information, even while he lashed out at others who he thought might be responsible for leaks.
It accuses McCabe of lying at least four times, three of them under oath, and says that while he had the power to approve disclosures of information to the media, his doing so in this instance violated policy because it was done “in a manner designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership.”
It also says McCabe and former FBI Director James B. Comey contradicted one another in their descriptions of how a media disclosure was authorized. While the report favors Comey’s account, it will likely generate tough questions for him as he launches a media blitz to promote his new book.
Those in Washington have long been anticipating release of the document, which formed the basis of McCabe’s firing just 26 hours before he could retire from the FBI and begin collecting his full retirement benefits. McCabe vigorously disputes its conclusions, and his team distributed a point-by-point rebuttal of the inspector general’s allegations.
Release of the report comes at a moment when the Justice Department and FBI are under intense scrutiny from a president upset that agents this week raided the office of his personal lawyer. McCabe had already alleged that his firing was politically motivated, as the president had made clear he disliked McCabe long before the FBI’s former No. 2 official was fired. Trump wrote on Twitter Friday, “DOJ just issued the McCabe report – which is a total disaster. He LIED! LIED! LIED! McCabe was totally controlled by Comey – McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!”
Michael Bromwich, a lawyer for McCabe, said in a statement that McCabe’s treatment was “far more harsh and far less fair than he deserved,” and that the inspector general’s report “utterly failed to support the decision to terminate Mr. McCabe.” He said the report did not detail “any understandable motive for his alleged wrongdoing,” and said Trump had “further tainted the process” with his previous public comments on the Justice Department inspector general.
Melissa Schwartz, McCabe’s spokeswoman, wrote on Twitter that the timing of the document being handed over to Congress Friday was “fascinating,” then added, “But no report transmission to Mr. #McCabe and no public disclosure from the Office of the Inspector General. The transparency of this Friday news dump is a joke.”
A spokesman for the inspector general’s office declined to comment.