The Inspector General issues a scathing report against former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Background Information: The first in a series of long awaited DOJ Office of Inspector General reports has been released as a result of a year-long investigation into multiple allegations of misconduct by Department and FBI officials. The first announcement of initiation of review was released on January 12, 2017, and highlights specific issues, shown below.
• Allegations that Department or FBI policies or procedures were not followed in connection with, or in actions leading up to or related to, the FBI Director’s public announcement on July 5, 2016, and the Director’s letters to Congress on October 28 and November 6, 2016, and that certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations;
• Allegations that the FBI Deputy Director should have been recused from participating in certain investigative matters;
• Allegations that the Department’s Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs improperly disclosed non-public information to the Clinton campaign and/or should have been recused from participating in certain matters;
• Allegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information; and
• Allegations that decisions regarding the timing of the FBI’s release of certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents on October 30 and November 1, 2016, and the use of a Twitter account to publicize same, were influenced by improper considerations.
If circumstances warranted, the OIG retained the option to consider other issues that may arise during the course of the review.
As to that last caveat in the initial announcement, throughout the year we have seen multiple members from a variety of agencies reassigned, demoted and in the case of Andrew McCabe, who is the subject of the first official IG report, terminated In March 2018, before becoming eligible for early pension, after he was removed from his post and forced to go on terminal leave in late January.
Due to the sheer amount of information the IG uncovered, involving issues that were not part of his original mandated scope, in December 2017, the IG released another statement indicating other issues would be included in the upcoming series of reports. The second statement highlighted "allegations involving communications between certain individuals, and will report its findings regarding those allegations promptly upon completion of the review of them."
Note- That additional mandate refers to text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI special counsel Lisa Page. While their text messages are referred to in the first report on McCabe's misconduct, the report regarding their own misconduct is expected to come at a later date as part of the series of reports due to be released.
INVESTIGATION OF CERTAIN ALLEGATIONS RELATING TO FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR MCCABE
As the title of the first report indicates, the IG started his release of reports with his investigation into "certain" allegations against former FBI Director Andrew McCabe, detailing the reasons why he was forced to step down and go on terminal leave and why the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility recommended he be terminated just days before he became eligible for early pension.
The 39 PDF report is embedded below the summary and findings.
Long story short, the IG found that McCabe authorized leaks to the media that were not of "public interest" but did so instead for personal gain. He then lied multiple times, under oath, to the Office of Inspector general and others to cover up his leaks. He also attempted to lay blame on others for those leaks which were initiated by him.
Via the Summary and findings on pages 4-5 of the PDF, which clarifies the abbreviations of positions within the FBI being referred to throughout the entire report.
This misconduct report addresses the accuracy of statements made by then-Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to the FBI’s Inspection Division (INSD) and the Department of Justice (Department or DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) concerning the disclosure of certain law enforcement sensitive information to reporter Devlin Barrett that was published online in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on October 30, 2016, in an article entitled “FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe.” A print version of the article was published in the WSJ on Monday, October 31, 2016, in an article entitled “FBI, Justice Feud in Clinton Probe.”
This investigation was initially opened by INSD to determine whether the information published by the WSJ in the October 30 article was an unauthorized leak and, if so, who was the source of the leak. On August 31, 2017, the OIG opened an investigation of McCabe following INSD’s referral of its matter to the OIG after INSD became concerned that McCabe may have lacked candor when questioned by INSD agents about his role in the disclosure to the WSJ. Shortly before that INSD referral, as part of its ongoing Review of Allegations Regarding Various Actions by the Department and the FBI in Advance of the 2016 Election, the OIG identified FBI text messages by McCabe’s then-Special Counsel (“Special Counsel”) that reflected that she and the then-Assistant Director for Public Affairs (“AD/OPA”) had been in contact with Barrett on October 27 and 28, 2016, and the OIG began to review the involvement of McCabe, Special Counsel, and AD/OPA in the disclosure of information to the WSJ in connection with the October 30 article.
In addition to addressing whether McCabe lacked candor, the OIG’s misconduct investigation addressed whether any FBI or Department of Justice policies were violated in disclosing non-public FBI information to the WSJ.
The OIG’s misconduct investigation included reviewing all of the INSD investigative materials as well as numerous additional documents, e-mails, text messages, and OIG interview transcripts. The OIG interviewed numerous witnesses, including McCabe, Special Counsel, former FBI Director James Comey, and others.
As detailed below, we found that in late October 2016, McCabe authorized Special Counsel and AD/OPA to discuss with Barrett issues related to the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation (CF Investigation). In particular, McCabe authorized Special Counsel and AD/OPA to disclose to Barrett the contents of a telephone call that had occurred on August 12, 2016, between McCabe and the then-Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General (“PADAG”). Among the purposes of the disclosure was to rebut a narrative that had been developing following a story in the WSJ on October 23, 2016, that questioned McCabe’s impartiality in overseeing FBI investigations involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and claimed that McCabe had ordered the termination of the CF Investigation due to Department of Justice pressure. The disclosure to the WSJ effectively confirmed the existence of the CF Investigation, which then-FBI Director Comey had previously refused to do. The account of the August 12 McCabe-PADAG call, and other information regarding the handling of the CF Investigation, was included in the October 30 WSJ article.
We found that, in a conversation with then-Director Comey shortly after the WSJ article was published, McCabe lacked candor when he told Comey, or made statements that led Comey to believe, that McCabe had not authorized the disclosure and did not know who did. This conduct violated FBI Offense Code 2.5 (Lack of Candor – No Oath).
We also found that on May 9, 2017, when questioned under oath by FBI agents from INSD, McCabe lacked candor when he told the agents that he had not authorized the disclosure to the WSJ and did not know who did. This conduct violated FBI Offense Code 2.6 (Lack of Candor – Under Oath).
We further found that on July 28, 2017, when questioned under oath by the OIG in a recorded interview, McCabe lacked candor when he stated: (a) that he was not aware of Special Counsel having been authorized to speak to reporters around October 30 and (b) that, because he was not in Washington, D.C., on October 27 and 28, 2016, he was unable to say where Special Counsel was or what she was doing at that time. This conduct violated FBI Offense Code 2.6 (Lack of Candor – Under Oath).
We additionally found that on November 29, 2017, when questioned under oath by the OIG in a recorded interview during which he contradicted his prior statements by acknowledging that he had authorized the disclosure to the WSJ, McCabe lacked candor when he: (a) stated that he told Comey on October 31, 2016, that he had authorized the disclosure to the WSJ; (b) denied telling INSD agents on May 9 that he had not authorized the disclosure to the WSJ about the PADAG call; and (c) asserted that INSD’s questioning of him on May 9 about the October 30 WSJ article occurred at the end of an unrelated meeting when one of the INSD agents pulled him aside and asked him one or two questions about the article. This conduct violated FBI Offense Code 2.6 (Lack of Candor – Under Oath).
Lastly, we determined that as Deputy Director, McCabe was authorized to disclose the existence of the CF Investigation publicly if such a disclosure fell within the “public interest” exception in applicable FBI and DOJ policies generally prohibiting such a disclosure of an ongoing investigation. However, we concluded that McCabe’s decision to confirm the existence of the CF Investigation through an anonymously sourced quote, recounting the content of a phone call with a senior Department official in a manner designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership, was clearly not within the public interest exception. We therefore concluded that McCabe’s disclosure of the existence of an ongoing investigation in this manner violated the FBI’s and the Department’s media policy and constituted misconduct.
What follows in the report is the relevant statutes and policies, including what "lack of candor" means legally, and FBI policies regarding media contacts and dissemination of information to the press, before detailing in-depth interviews with the relevant parties in order for the Inspector General to determine who was telling the truth and who was lying.
Note- The determinations as to who was telling the truth and who was lying is only in regards to the specific leaks addressed in the report, not in reference to the issues that will be the subjects of the upcoming reports regarding the other allegations the IG was tasked with investigating.
In other words, the IG found that in regards to these specific leaks to the WSJ, witnesses and testimony indicated that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe's version of events and statements were less credible than former FBI Director James Comey's, which has the media hailing Comey as "honest," but the IG still has a pending report regarding Comey's three statements to the press in regards to the Clinton private server/classified email scandal, that will address his alleged misconduct.
WHAT IS NOT ADDRESSED IN THIS REPORT- PENDING REPORTS
While over 30 pages, much of which describes how the IG made his determinations from text messages uncovered, witness interviews and other relevant documentation, it is only a very narrow topic regarding specific leaks to the press.
What this report does not address and is upcoming reports are expected to address, are the Allegations that Department or FBI policies or procedures were not followed in connection with, or in actions leading up to or related to, the FBI Director’s public announcement on July 5, 2016, and the Director’s letters to Congress on October 28 and November 6, 2016, and that certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations.
Those three dates refer to the initial statement by former FBI director James Comey, where he went against FBI policy by publicly recommending that no charges be filed against Hillary Clinton, then his October 28 letter to congress which let the public know they were reopening the investigation due to additional Clinton-associated emails found on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, who was married to Clinton top aide Huma Abedin, and then the Nov. 6 letter announcing nothing further was found in those emails, again exonerating Clinton just days before the 2016 presidential election.
It is very likely that IG report will be far more explosive due to the information already documented publicly in regards to Comey's first statement to the public in relation to the Clinton investigation.
It is already known that the initial draft of the statement was doctored by changing the terms "grossly negligent," to "extremely careless," in order to exonerate Clinton because the term Grossly negligent would have opened her up to federal prosecution under the law.
Peter Strzok, who served as a counterintelligence expert at the bureau, changed the description of Clinton's actions in Comey's statement, CNN reported Monday, citing U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
One source told the news outlet that electronic records reveal that Strzok changed the language from "grossly negligent" to "extremely careless," scrubbing a key word that could have had legal ramifications for Clinton. An individual who mishandled classified material could be prosecuted under federal law for "gross negligence."
Strzok, who served as the No. 2 official leading the probe into the Clinton email server, has been thrust into the center of controversy after news of his dismissal from Comey's team.
As noted earlier, Strzok was part of the pair referred to in the updated statement by the IG, informing the public that he would also be investigating "allegations involving communications between certain individuals."
That will the be topic of yet another in the series of reports the IG will be releasing in the coming weeks.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today that, in response to requests from the Attorney General and Members of Congress, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will initiate a review that will examine the Justice Department’s and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) compliance with legal requirements, and with applicable DOJ and FBI policies and procedures, in applications filed with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) relating to a certain U.S. person. As part of this examination, the OIG also will review information that was known to the DOJ and the FBI at the time the applications were filed from or about an alleged FBI confidential source. Additionally, the OIG will review the DOJ’s and FBI’s relationship and communications with the alleged source as they relate to the FISC applications.
That indicates the final report in the series to be released will most likely be the one detailing the FISA abuses.
BOTTOM LINE - THE COMMON THREAD
What is notable is the common thread of this report, is the consistent references to Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
In this report, Page is referred to not by name but by position as McCabe's FBI special counsel, while Strzok is also referred to by position. Both are under investigation in relation to their text messages, as explained in the December IG statement. They were the two FBI employees that discussed, via text, speaking to the WSJ reporter. Strzok played key roles in changing the terminology of the Comey statement exonerating Clinton. Strzok played a key role in the Clinton investigation and in initiating the Russia probe against President Trump, described in those text messages as an "insurance policy" in the event that Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
Speculative: While this is speculation, the very fact that Strzok is still employed by the FBI, despite the mountain of incriminating public knowledge detailed above, it appears that Strzok and Page, who is also still employed, may be working in cooperation with the IG and investigators to position themselves for some sort of plea deal for lesser charges when the reports regarding them are released and referred to the DOJ to determine what legal actions to take.
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