Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said he was pressed by a top Justice Department official about the FBI’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation, according to the released Justice Department inspector general’s report released Friday.
McCabe describes the August 2016 call with the then-principal associate deputy attorney general as being “very dramatic” and unlike any confrontation he’d ever had with such a high-level official.
“McCabe told the OIG that on August 12, 2016, he received a telephone call from PADAG regarding the FBI’s handling of the CF Investigation (the ‘PADAG call’). McCabe said that PADAG expressed concerns about FBI agents taking overt steps in the CF Investigation during the presidential campaign,” the IG report states.
“According to McCabe, he pushed back, asking, ‘Are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?’ McCabe told us that the conversation was ‘very dramatic’ and he never had a similar confrontation like the PADAG call with a high level Department official in his entire FBI career.”
Matthew Axelrod served as the principal associate deputy attorney general at the end of the Obama administration, but it’s not immediately clear if he is the person referenced in the report.
Tom Fitton, who heads the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, said in a tweet this finding “presents new evidence Obama DOJ sought to shut down FBI investigation of Clinton Foundation.”
Also calling attention to this section of the IG report was the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, who tweeted this was “of note to Trump folks.”
The Wall Street Journal revealed for the first time in a late October 2016 report that he FBI was already more than a year deep into a probe examining “whether financial crimes or influence peddling occurred related to the charity.”
In a follow-up call with the Washington Examiner, Fitton said he hopes the U.S. government “reopens or reinvigorates” it’s Clinton Foundation probe.
Asked if he knew whether the investigation was still active, he replied, “That’s the big question,” while pointing out there have only been hints in media reports, including a CNN report earlier this year, which said FBI agents from a field office in Little Rock, Ark., were looking into whether Hillary and Bill Clinton’s charity organization participated in pay-to-play schemes or other improper behavior.
Congress could be another avenue to pursue the matter, Fitton noted. “They could have a hearing in three days,” he said, adding, “bring in Mr. McCabe and other mentioned in the report.
The Justice Department’s inspector general’s report, which led to McCabe’s firing, found McCabe “lacked candor” on four separate occasions, including three times while under oath, in connection with the disclosure to the Wall Street Journal leak to push back on a report about large donations McCabe’s wife received from Democrats during her bid for the Virginia State Senate — a leak which effectively confirmed the existence of the Clinton Foundation probe.
The IG determined that as deputy director, McCabe was authorized to make the disclosures if they fell within the “public interest exception, since the Justice Department and FBI prohibit “such a disclosure of an ongoing investigation.”
“However, 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. 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,” the IG report said.
Michael Bromwich, a former DOJ IG who is representing McCabe, issued a lengthy statement Friday condemning a “rush to judgment” that led to McCabe’s firing 26 hours before he was set to retire with a full pension.
Bromwich also said his team is “actively considering” legal action against Trump and top officials in his administration.