Congressman alleges McCabe lied to Comey, hinting at rift between FBI officials

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The FBI’s disciplinary office found that ousted deputy director Andrew McCabe lied to his boss, then-director James B. Comey, in October 2016 about having authorized the disclosure of sensitive information to a reporter, a Republican congressman whose office reviewed the findings alleged Friday.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in an interview that McCabe lied to Comey when Comey asked him how sensitive information ended up in an October 2016 Wall Street Journal story detailing internal tension at the FBI and Justice Department over an investigation into matters surrounding the Clinton Foundation. Jordan’s staffers, along with staffers for Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, were permitted this week to view a report on McCabe from the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, Jordan said.

Neither Meadows nor his spokesman returned requests for comment.

According to Jordan, the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility determined that McCabe lied to his superiors and investigators four times: first, to Comey in October 2016; then, to FBI investigators in May; and later, to the Office of the Inspector General twice, beginning in the summer.

In a statement, McCabe’s lawyer said it was fully appropriate for the bureau’s deputy director to authorize media interaction, asserting that Comey knew about it. The lawyer, Michael R. Bromwich, said emails between the two men “clearly show that Mr. McCabe advised Director Comey that he was working with colleagues at the FBI to correct inaccuracies before the stories were published, and that they remained in contact through the weekend while the interactions with the reporter continued.”

“We deeply regret being compelled to respond to this selective leaking with any comment at all,” Bromwich said, accusing Republicans of “attempting to create a false narrative” that pits Comey and McCabe against each other.

“Nevertheless, one thing is clear: Mr. McCabe never misled Director Comey. Director Comey’s memory of these interactions was equivocal and speculative, while Mr. McCabe’s recollection is clear, unequivocal and supported by documentary evidence,” Bromwich continued. “Director Comey has no specific recollection of what Mr. McCabe told him, while Mr. McCabe remembers the two discussed the article before and after its publication.”

A lawyer for Comey declined to comment.

The revelation sheds new light on a matter of keen interest to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is investigating how the bureau handled its probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Horowitz’s inquiry, once complete, is expected to determine that McCabe authorized the disclosure of sensitive information to reporter Devlin Barrett, then of the Wall Street Journal. Barrett now works for The Washington Post.

Comey asked McCabe about the source of the information in Barrett’s article shortly after it was published, Jordan said.

Two days before the article was published, Comey notified congressional leaders that he was reopening the investigation into Clinton’s emails — a move Clinton says cost her the election.

On Thursday, McCabe launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for his legal-defense. As of Friday afternoon, he had raised almost $450,000. It is unclear whether McCabe will be charged with wrongdoing, though lying to federal investigators is a crime.

Relying on the inspector general’s findings, the FBI’s disciplinary office recommended in its report that McCabe should be fired for the media disclosures, and for allegedly misleading investigators and Comey about his role in authorizing them. The disciplinary office did not weigh in on whether McCabe should face criminal liability for his actions, according to Jordan.

McCabe, who has been a frequent target of criticism from President Trump, has said his firing was politically motivated and disputes misleading anyone.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions terminated McCabe’s employment earlier this month, about 26 hours before he would have been able to claim a full pension for an FBI career that spanned more than two decades.

Several members of the GOP have asked Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to examine the FBI’s conduct during the Clinton email investigation and in applying for a warrant to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. The inspector general announced earlier this week that his office would examine the warrant application, too.

Republicans argue the inspector general lacks the necessary reach necessary to examine the matter fully.

Sessions has effectively dismissed calls for a second special counsel, announcing Thursday that U.S. attorney John W. Huber of Utah would spearhead a broader review, and noting to members of Congress that a second special counsel was only warranted in “extraordinary circumstances.”

Jordan surmised that, eventually, Sessions would be compelled to appoint a second special counsel, saying questions about the FBI’s conduct had already caused firings of the FBI’s director and deputy director, and affected the careers of several top FBI officials.

“If that’s not extraordinary circumstances, I don’t know what is,” Jordan said.

Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.

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