Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe admitted he misled investigators about his role in a media leak and apologized for it, according to transcripts of his interviews with investigators released Thursday.
The transcripts were released by the Justice Department’s inspector general in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
An unidentified FBI investigator detailed his frustration with Mr. McCabe over the time he spent investigating the leak, only to discover the leak came from the former deputy director himself, according to the transcripts. Mr. McCabe had repeatedly denied he was the source of the leak, but later confessed and apologized when the investigator confronted him, the transcripts said.
“I remember saying to him, ‘Sir, you understand that we’ve put a lot of work into this based on what you told us,’” the agent said. “I mean, and I even said, long nights and weekends working on this trying to find out who amongst your ranks of trusted people would, would do something like that. And [Mr. McCabe] kind of just looked down, kind of nodded and said, ‘Yeah, I’m sorry.’”
Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz last year concluded Mr. McCabe “lacked candor” with investigators probing a leak to The Wall Street Journal that revealed the FBI was looking into Hilary Clinton’s emails and the Clinton Foundation.
The Justice Department fired Mr. McCabe in the spring of 2018, citing Mr. Horowitz’s conclusions. Mr. McCabe is suing the Justice Department for wrongful termination, alleging President Trump ordered his firing.
When FBI investigators confronted Mr. McCabe about the leak, he denied authorizing the disclosure to the Journal. He also presented himself as a “victim,” according to the agent who conducted the interview.
After investigators received “conflicting information” on whether he ordered the leak, Mr. McCabe confessed in a follow-up interview, the transcripts said.
“I need to know from you did you authorize this article? Were you aware of it? Did you authorize it?” the investigator said he asked Mr. McCabe. “And as nice as could be, he said, ‘Yep. Yep, I did.’”
The investigator said he was surprised by Mr. McCabe’s revelation and it changed the probe by “180 degrees.”
When investigators showed the former No. 2 official at the FBI his statement from an earlier interview in which he said he did not know the leaker’s identity, Mr. McCabe appeared surprised and said he “didn’t ever remember seeing this before.”
“I told him, I said we sent it to you at least three times or two times,” the agent said. Mr. McCabe responded, “There was a lot going on.”
The U.S. Attorney in D.C. is currently mulling criminal charges against Mr. McCabe based on Mr. Howoritz’s conclusions. His attorneys have denied any wrongdoing. Mr. McCabe said he would refuse to accept a plea deal.