Ousted FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe improperly leaked information to a reporter and then lied to both his boss, then-Director James Comey, and to FBI agents investigating his behavior, the Justice Department inspector general said Friday.
He was under oath when he lied to the FBI agents, the inspector general said in a lengthy new report that could prove devastating to Mr. McCabe’s credibility, and to other ongoing investigations.
“He LIED! LIED! LIED!” President Trump tweeted. “McCabe was totally controlled by Comey - McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!”
He called McCabe’s actions “a total disaster.”
The inspector general’s report, which had been circulating inside the government for weeks, was used to justify Mr. McCabe’s firing earlier this year, just days before he was to take retirement and collect his pension.
The inspector general said Mr. McCabe authorized leaks to a Wall Street Journal reporter when he was trying to shape the narrative surrounding his role in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret emails.
Investigators said the 2016 leak confirmed the existence of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation — a probe the FBI had studiously avoided confirming. The leak was inappropriate because it was done “to advance his personal interests,” the audit found.
He then lied to Mr. Comey, then to FBI agents and the inspector general in May and July 2017. In a follow-up interview late last year he “contradicted his prior statements,” the audit concluded.
“The OIG found that then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lacked candor, including under oath, on multiple occasions in connection with describing his role in connection with a disclosure to the WSJ, and that this conduct violated FBI Offense Codes 2.5 and 2.6,” the audit concluded.
“The OIG also concluded that McCabe’s disclosure of the existence of an ongoing investigation in the manner described in this report violated the FBI’s and the Department’s media policy and constituted misconduct.”
Investigators said they were cognizant Mr. McCabe’s leaks were likely meant to counter opposition leaks from within the FBI, but they said that wasn’t a reason to leak.
The report also delves into several other thorny issues of the 2016 campaign.
One of those is an Aug. 12, 2016, call to Mr. McCabe from a high-ranking Justice Department official who complained that FBI agents’ investigation into the Clinton Foundation was too “overt,” particularly in the middle of a presidential campaign.
Mr. McCabe said he got the sense the Obama Justice Department was telling him “to shut down” the probe. Later he called the exchange as “very dramatic” and said he’d never had a confrontation like that with the Justice Department.
The justice official, who was not named in the report, confirmed the general tenor of the call to investigators, but denied he was trying to pressure the FBI to stop the probe.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said his panel is already looking into those matters, and the report provides further evidence of the need to figure out what was going on at the Justice Department.
The new report is likely to fuel President Trump’s complaints about the FBI, about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into his own behavior and that of his 2016 campaign, and about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mr. Mueller.
Democrats argued Friday that the matters were separate.
“The report issued by the Inspector General today has absolutely nothing to do with Special Counsel Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, the conduct of federal investigators so far, or the multiple indictments they have secured against Russian nationals and Trump campaign officials,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
Still, he said, “President Trump will no doubt gloat about these findings and misuse them in his ongoing disinformation campaign.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy, Republican South Carolina and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the report justifies Mr. McCabe’s firing. He vowed that his committee will continue to investigate the FBI’s decisions on investigations related to the 2016 election.
“The second in command at our nation’s premiere law enforcement agency should be an epitome of fidelity, bravery and integrity,” he said.
But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Mr. McCabe’s actions needed to be viewed in the context of him trying to defend himself and his wife “against false press reports.”
“The rush to fire McCabe late on a Friday night, just hours before he was to retire, casts a tremendous shadow over the integrity of this process. There’s really no way to look at McCabe’s firing other than overtly political,” she said.
Neither the FBI nor Justice Department had a comment on the report.