This post was originally published on New York Times.
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department inspector general delivered to Congress on Friday a scathing report that accused Andrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. deputy director, of violating the federal law enforcement agency’s media policy and then repeatedly misleading investigators about his actions.
The inspector general found that Mr. McCabe, 50, had lacked candor on four occasions when questioned by investigators and faulted his decision to authorize the disclosure of information to a reporter with The Wall Street Journal in October 2016 as self-serving.
In a point-by-point rebuttal of the report, Mr. McCabe said that he had full authorization to share this information with the news media as deputy director and that he did not intentionally mislead investigators. He also argued that his decision to release information about an investigation into the financial dealings of the Clinton Foundation was justified and in the public’s interest.
Mr. McCabe, a 21-year F.B.I. veteran, was fired in March after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rejected an appeal that would have let him retire with a full government pension.
At the time, Mr. Sessions said that Mr. McCabe had repeatedly shown a lack of candor under oath. Mr. McCabe disputed that, saying his firing was meant to undermine the special counsel investigation being led by Robert S. Mueller III, and to discredit him as a witness.
The report’s release, which had been anticipated for months, comes at a time when the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are under intense scrutiny by Republicans on Capitol Hill and by President Trump for their continuing investigation of possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Trump, who considers the Russia investigation a “witch hunt,” has fumed in recent days after an F.B.I. raid of his personal lawyer’s office and hotel room in New York.
The inspector general’s report also provides the president and his allies with a convenient counterpoint to a new memoir by James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director Mr. Trump fired last May. The book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, but details began to trickle out Thursday night, including pointed criticisms of Mr. Trump.
On Friday afternoon, Mr. Trump, who has sought to tarnish the reputation of his investigators, pounced on the report on Mr. McCabe, calling it a “total disaster.”
“He LIED! LIED! LIED! McCabe was totally controlled by Comey – McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!” he wrote on Twitter.
Michael R. Bromwich, a lawyer for Mr. McCabe, replied to the president’s tweet, writing in one of his own that his client was considering filing a defamation suit. “Stay tuned,” he wrote.
The inspector general report was unsparing in its assessment of Mr. McCabe. The review accused Mr. McCabe of lacking candor when he spoke to Mr. Comey shortly after the October 2016 article was published, when he spoke with F.B.I. investigators and then in two conversations with investigators for the inspector general.
Lack of candor, or knowingly providing false information, is a fireable offense at the F.B.I.
The inspector general said that when investigators asked whether Mr. McCabe had instructed a pair of aides to provide information in October 2016 to Devlin Barrett, then a Wall Street Journal reporter, Mr. McCabe said he did not authorize the disclosure and did not know who did.
Mr. McCabe subsequently said he approved the F.B.I.’s contact with the reporter, according to the review.
The newspaper article delved into a dispute between F.B.I. and Justice Department officials over how to proceed in the investigation into the Clinton Foundation. It revealed a meeting during which Justice Department officials declined to authorize subpoenas or grand jury activity. The article said that some F.B.I. agents thought that Mr. McCabe had slowed the investigation.
But The Journal, citing anonymous sources including “one person close to Mr. McCabe,” detailed a tense conversation with a senior Justice Department official in which Mr. McCabe insisted that the F.B.I. had the authority to press ahead with the investigation.
The inspector general concluded that that engagement initiated by Mr. McCabe had not been justified under the media policy of the F.B.I. and Justice Department and constituted misconduct.
Specifically, the report said, providing an anonymous quote about the content of a conversation between Mr. McCabe and another department official “served only to advance McCabe’s personal interests and not the public interest, as required by F.B.I. policy.”
Mr. McCabe disputed that conclusion, saying that he took the steps he did to protect the F.B.I.’s reputation. In his interactions with investigators, he said that he had not intended to mislead and in one case reached back out to the inspector general’s office to correct earlier comments.
The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, is expected to release a larger report in the coming weeks about the F.B.I.’s actions during the 2016 election.
The report on Friday generated split reaction on Capitol Hill. Top Republicans said that it clearly justified Mr. McCabe’s firing, and highlighted the importance of truthfulness in federal law enforcement. Democrats, while not disputing that point, warned that the report should not be connected to the Russia investigation.
Earlier on Friday, Christopher A. Wray, the director of the F.B.I., formally elevated David L. Bowdich, the bureau’s third in command, to succeed Mr. McCabe as deputy director. Mr. Bowdich, the former top agent in the Los Angeles Field Office, has been the acting deputy director since January.
This post was originally published on the New York Times.