DOJ's watchdog refers Andrew McCabe to US attorney for criminal investigation

  • The Justice Department's inspector general's office has sent a criminal referral regarding former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe to the US Attorney in Washington, DC.
  • The inspector general's office released a report last week saying that McCabe "lacked candor" when discussing his decision to authorize disclosures to the media about the FBI's investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

The Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has sent a criminal referral regarding former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe to the US attorney's office in Washington, DC, according to CNN.

The revelation comes after the OIG released a report last week which found that McCabe "lacked candor" in several instances when discussing his decision to authorize disclosures to the media about the FBI's investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.

The report came after a months-long internal investigation into McCabe's conduct, much of which is said to have taken place around the 2016 US election. McCabe was forced out of the bureau in January amid the investigation.

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Newly installed acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 11: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe prepares to testify during the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing on 'World Wide Threats' on Thursday, May 11, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 11: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe prepares to testify during the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing on 'World Wide Threats' on Thursday, May 11, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 11: From left, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, appear during a Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing in Hart Building titled 'World Wide Threats' on May 11, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, USA - MAY 11: Andrew McCabe, Acting Director of the FBI after President Trump fired James Comey, speaks during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Worldwide Threats in Washington, USA on May 11, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - MAY 11: A binder containing classified material marked Secret sits on the witness table in front of Andrew McCabe, Acting Director of the FBI after President Trump fired James Comey, before a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Worldwide Threats in Washington, United States on May 11, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 21: Federal Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director Andrew McCabe arrives for a meeting with members of the Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary committees in the Rayburn House Office Building December 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. McCabe testified before the House Intelligence Committee for ten hours on Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (C) speaks with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (L) and Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Andrew McCabe (R) during a press conference at the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC, on July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
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After the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, concluded that McCabe was not forthcoming when testifying to internal investigators about his decisions leading up to the election, the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) recommended that Attorney General Jeff Sessions fire McCabe, which Sessions then did in March.

Sessions said in his statement at the time that "both the OIG and FBI OPR reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news med and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions."

He continued: "Pursuant to Department Order 1202, and based on the report of the Inspector General, the findings of the FBI's Office of Personal Responsibility, and the recommendation of the Department's senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately."

On Wednesday, 11 House Republicans sent a letter to the DOJ and FBI calling for a criminal investigation into McCabe, Clinton, former FBI director James Comey, former attorney general Loretta Lynch, former acting attorney general Sally Yates, FBI general counsel Dana Boente, and FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

A criminal referral from the OIG, however, holds far more weight because the group is comprised of a set of non-partisan and objective investigators.

Legal experts said Thursday that if the US attorney's office in Washington opens a criminal investigation into McCabe and he is charged with a crime, the likely charge would be lying to the FBI.

The inspector general's office and McCabe's attorney declined to comment.

DOJ watchdog finds McCabe made decisions 'designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership'

The Wall Street Journal article at the center of the OIG's inquiry into McCabe was published on October 30, 2016, two days after Comey, the FBI director at the time, announced in a letter to Congress that the bureau was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

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Campaign chairman John Podesta (C) and Senior Advisor Huma Abedin (R) for U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton stand in the aisle on the campaign plane from New York enroute to Miami, U.S. October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
John Podesta, chairman of U.S. Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, listens as she talks to the media inside of her campaign plane after the third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate in North Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's director of communications Jennifer Palmieri (2nd L), longtime aide Huma Abedin (C), and campaign manager Robby Mook (R) listen as Clinton speaks at a campaign rally with Senator Bernie Sanders in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S. July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Robby Mook, Campaign Manager for U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and Communications Director Jen Palmieri (L) talk to reporters onboard the campaign plane enroute to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S. October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton talks to staff members, including aide Huma Abedin (L), onboard her campaign plane in White Plains, New York, U.S. October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Communications Director Jen Palmieri and Campaign Manager Robby Mook get off the campaign plane in White Plains, New York, U.S. October 28, 2016. Picture taken October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Robby Mook, Campaign Manager for U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and Communications Director Jen Palmieri (L) talk to reporters onboard the campaign plane enroute to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S. October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
John Podesta, campaign chairman for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, talks to staff members on Clinton's campaign plane enroute to Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S., September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton delivers remarks at a gathering of law enforcement leaders including New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton (L) and advisor Maya Harris (R) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, U.S., August 18, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton talks with members of her staff inside of her campaign plane at the Westchester County airport in White Plains, New York, U.S., October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Chairman of U.S. Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, John Podesta, boards her plane in White Plains, New York, U.S. October 18, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton walks offstage with aide Huma Abedin (L) after the conclusion of her debate against Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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The article was a detailed account of internal strife within the top ranks of the DOJ about how to proceed after FBI agents investigating Anthony Weiner, the former New York congressman, discovered 650,000 emails on his laptop that could have been sent to or received from Clinton's private email server.

The reporter who wrote The Journal's article, Devlin Barrett, was in touch with two top FBI officials on the phone two days before the story broke, according to text messages released in February.

The officials were Page, an FBI lawyer who often worked with McCabe, and Michael Kortan, an FBI spokesman. The OIG report refers to Page and Kortan as "Special Counsel" and "then-Assistant Director for Public Affairs."

While law-enforcement officials often speak to the press on background to provide more complete details about a story, they are prohibited from disclosing information about ongoing investigations.

The inspector general found that McCabe's authorization of disclosures to the media regarding the Clinton Foundation investigation "effectively confirmed the existence" of the inquiry, something Comey "had previously refused to do."

The report also listed at least four instances in which McCabe "lacked candor" when discussing the disclosures while he was under oath.

"We concluded that McCabe's decision to confirm the existence of the [Clinton Foundation] 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," the inspector general's report said.

The deputy director's ouster followed a string of public attacks leveled by President Donald Trump, accusing him of putting his thumb on the scale in Clinton's favor.

Trump's attacks were based on information in a separate Journal article published one week before the one on October 30 and written by Barrett focusing on an unsuccessful 2015 run for a Virginia Senate seat by McCabe's wife, Jill McCabe.

The Journal reported on October 24, 2016, that her campaign received $675,000 in donations from the Virginia Democratic Party and Common Good VA, the super PAC run by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton supporter.

According to the inspector general's report, Barrett emailed Kortan and the Office of Public Affairs about a follow-up story he was working on, saying he was told McCabe gave instructions on how to proceed with the Clinton Foundation investigation that summer, "given that it was the height of election season and the FBI did not want to make a lot of overt moves that could be seen as going after [Clinton] or drawing attention to the probe."

When Barrett asked the office to comment on the accuracy of the description, McCabe instructed Page to provide information to Barrett for the follow-up story, which resulted in the October 30 article.

This is a developing story.

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SEE ALSO: DOJ inspector general releases scathing report on fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

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