The progressive mainstream media have declared former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to be a Hero of the Republic for having launched a counterintelligence investigation of President Trump after he fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. In interviews on CBS and NBC, McCabe has claimed that FBI officials under his supervision opened the probe because they believed that it was “possible” that Trump had acted on behalf of the Kremlin when he fired Comey.
On NBC’s Today Show, McCabe told Savannah Guthrie that the FBI “had information that led us to believe that there might be a threat to national security — in this case that the president himself might, in fact, be a threat to the United States’ national security.”
In keeping with the media consensus, the New York Times’ review of McCabe’s new book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, begins with a worshipful description of McCabe’s picture on the back cover. “His hands are at his hips, gunslinger style. It’s as if he were a kind of High Plains sheriff who had stumbled upon an intolerable rodeo of villainy.” There is more, but you get the idea.
What has been so remarkable about the coverage and commentary is the astounding degree to which no one in the mainstream media has uttered a single word or asked a single question about McCabe’s demonstrable record of dishonesty and tenuous relationship with the truth. It’s as if the remarkably incurious — bordering on semi-comatose — mainstream media have developed mass amnesia when it comes to McCabe’s firing by the FBI after the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General had found that he had “lacked candor [i.e.,lied], including under oath, on multiple occasions in connection with describing his role in connection with a disclosure” to the Wall Street Journal regarding a story about the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server and his role in that investigation. The OIG concluded that McCabe had authorized the disclosure “through an anonymously sourced quote in the WSJ, recounting the content of a telephone conversation between him and a [Justice] Department official, [that] served only to advance McCabe’s personal interests and not the public interest, as required by FBI policy. We therefore found that his actions violated applicable FBI and Department policies and constituted misconduct.”
Following these findings, the FBI fired McCabe, and he was referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution for making false statements and false swearing. That’s some record of achievement for the High Plains sheriff who, we are told, stepped into the breach to save America from Trump, the Manchurian traitor.
So, since nobody else seems interested in McCabe’s background, let’s dip into the memory hole to fish out a few scraps that might help us better evaluate McCabe’s most recent self-aggrandizing yarn.
A good place to start is the campaign of his wife’s 2015 campaign for the Virginia State Senate. She had the support of then Democratic Virginia Governor and Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe. His political action committee and the state Democratic party gave McCabe’s wife’s campaign both financial and in-kind support in excess of $675,000. Not only was McAuliffe a close political ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton, his PAC, which generously supported McCabe’s wife, held a fundraiser in June 2015 at which Hillary herself was the featured speaker.
When his wife ran for office, McCabe was the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. He announced that he would not participate in his wife’s campaign and was instructed by the FBI’s general counsel and ethics compliance office to recuse himself from any corruption investigations of Virginia politicians. He was also told that his participation in any investigation that may present an actual, perceived, or potential conflict of interest must be reviewed by the Washington Field Office’s ethics officer.
Shortly thereafter, in July 2015, McCabe assumed the number three post at FBI headquarters. Then, in February 2016, he was promoted to Deputy Director answerable only to Director James Comey.
As these promotions took place, the FBI was conducting an investigation of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private, unsecured email server to conduct official business.
Clinton was being investigated for possible violations of a criminal statute that makes it a felony for anyone lawfully possessing information pertaining to the national defense to allow it, through “gross negligence,” to be removed from its proper place of custody and disclosed. In other words, under the statute, one need not intend to cause harm. As with a drunken driver who accidentally runs down a pedestrian, “gross negligence” alone was sufficient to warrant a felony charge.
As Deputy Director, McCabe supervised this investigation until close to the very end when, in late October 2016, he was at last excluded from further participation.
In July 2016, when he announced the results of the investigation, Comey made it clear that Clinton had repeatedly and over a period of years stored, sent, and received “very sensitive, highly classified information” on her unclassified, nongovernment email server. But although Comey conceded that Clinton was “extremely careless” in doing so, he nevertheless concluded that she should not be charged because there was no “clear evidence” that she “intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information.”
So it was that, confronted by an insurmountable mountain of proof of Clinton’s grossly negligent and therefore felonious mishandling of classified information, Comey raised an utterly irrelevant nonissue (lack of clear proof of intent) to give Clinton a pass.
But in September 2016, things hit a snag. The NYPD was investigating former Congressman Anthony Weiner, husband to Clinton assistant Huma Abedin, for sexual solicitation of minors over the internet. Unfortunately for Clinton and Comey, the NYPD seized Weiner’s laptop computer and discovered on it thousands of classified State Department emails and documents.
In late September 2016, the NYPD provided copies of those documents to FBI agents in New York City. As later reported in the Washington Post, those agents “wanted to know whether the emails in question might shed new light on the Clinton investigation, which had closed in July without any charges.”
According to the Post, although the New York FBI office alerted headquarters to the new email issue within days, “nothing much happened” for a period of three weeks. Some of the official sources for the story said they were “concerned that the issue seemed to die for a period of time at McCabe’s desk, without explanation.”
But finally, after the mysterious delay, the Clinton email investigation was reopened. And then, despite the great number of emails provided by the NYPD, the restarted FBI investigation was wrapped up in a matter of days. Clinton was exonerated for a second time in November 2016.
But, before that happened, Andrew McCabe’s world began to crash around him.
On October 23, 2016, the WSJ published online an article by reporter Devlin Barrett stating that Virginia Governor McAuliffe’s PAC and the Virginia Democratic Party (over which the article reported McAuliffe “exerts considerable control”) collectively donated nearly $675,000 to the 2015 unsuccessful state senate campaign of McCabe’s wife. The article described McAuliffe as “an influential Democrat with long-standing ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton” and noted that McCabe was an FBI official “who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use.”
The article contained an official FBI statement that McCabe “played no role” in his wife’s 2015 state senate campaign and was promoted to FBI Deputy Director months after his wife’s defeat “where,… he assumed for the first time, an oversight role in the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s emails.” According to the article, FBI officials stated that McCabe’s supervision of the Clinton email case in 2016 did not present a conflict or ethics issues because his wife’s campaign was over by then. The article went on to note that when the Clinton email investigation was launched in July 2015, McCabe was “running the FBI’s Washington, D.C., field office, which provided personnel and resources to the Clinton email probe.”
According to the OIG’s report, “immediately following online publication of the article, there was substantial public discussion as to whether McCabe’s oversight of the Clinton E-mail Investigation had been appropriate in light of the information in the [WSJ] article.”
Then, on October 24, 2016, WSJ reporter Barrett emailed the FBI’s Assistant Director for Public Affairs (AD/OPA) “about a follow-up story that he was working on. In that e-mail, Barrett asked AD/OPA a number of questions about McCabe’s involvement in certain matters,” including another FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundation. “In particular,” states the OIG report, “Barrett’s e-mail said that he was told that: in the summer, McCabe himself gave some instruction as to how to proceed with the Clinton Foundation probe, 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.”
Barrett’s e-mail asked the AD/OPA “[h]ow accurate are those descriptions? Anything else I should know?”
After conducting a meticulous and exhaustive investigation, the OIG later “found that, in late October 2016, McCabe had authorized Special FBI Counsel Lisa Page and the AD/OPA to discuss with Barrett issues related to the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation (‘CF Investigation’). In particular, the OIG found that McCabe had authorized Page and the 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’) regarding the CF Investigation. Among the purposes of the disclosure was to rebut a narrative that had been developing following the 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 McCabe-authorized disclosure to the WSJ effectively confirmed the existence of the CF Investigation, which Comey had previously refused to do in testimony before Congress. 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.”
According to the OIG, the information leaked at McCabe’s direction described him as pushing back in the August telephone call with the PADAG against Justice Department efforts to close down the CF Investigation. In short, the leak was calculated to portray McCabe in a favorable light as resisting political pressure to close the CF Investigation and standing up for the rule of law. By his own leaked account, he was purportedly the hero of the piece. Sound familiar?
This disclosure to the WSJ violated FBI policy which prohibits disclosure of ongoing investigations. The leak effectively confirmed that the FBI was investigating the Clinton Foundation and set off an internal investigation to find the leaker(s).
In that regard, the OIG found that, in a conversation with Comey shortly after the WSJ article was published, McCabe had “lacked candor [i.e., lied] 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.”
The OIG also found that, on May 9, 2017, “when questioned under oath by FBI agents from INSD [the FBI’s Inspections Division],” McCabe had “lacked candor when he told the agents that he had not authorized the disclosure to the WSJ and did not know who did.”
The OIG also concluded 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 [Lisa Page] 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 [Page] was or what she was doing at that time.”
The OIG “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.”
Finally, the OIG “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, [the OIG] 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 [Justice] 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 OIG] 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.”
Given the OIG’s damning findings and the fact that McCabe was fired and is now under criminal investigation for allegedly lying both under oath and otherwise, you might think that the media would want to at least mention these issues before automatically crediting his claims about Trump. But, of course, they haven’t, and you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for them to do so. After all, McCabe’s narrative fits their destroy-Trump-at-all-costs agenda.
Now, as noted, McCabe claims that Trump’s firing of Comey triggered the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the president. But the record facts establish that, even before the election in November 2016, the FBI and the Obama Justice Department were investigating the Trump campaign for possible ties to Russia. That investigation was based in substantial part on opposition research helpfully gathered and disseminated by the Clinton campaign. Former British spy and FBI informant Christopher Steele, while working for Fusion GPS which was working on behalf of the Clinton campaign, gathered salacious rumors and unsubstantiated information regarding Trump’s purported antics with Moscow prostitutes and other topics that supposedly would make him subject to Russian blackmail and control.
In addition to providing that unsubstantiated information to the FBI, Steele and Fusion GPS fed it to the media.
Compiled in the eponymous “Steele dossier,” this baseless Clinton campaign opposition research and the related leaked media stories were used by the FBI during the campaign to obtain a warrant and three renewals from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to retrieve the electronically intercepted communications of Trump campaign consultant Carter Page. These warrants continued through the campaign and extended after the election and encompassed not only Page’s communications but the identities and responding communications of all persons in contact with him.
And long before election day, the FBI tasked an informant to insinuate himself with Page as well as Trump campaign advisers Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, this “longtime U.S. intelligence source” for the FBI and CIA met separately with Page, Clovis, and Papadopoulos and “offered to help with the campaign.”
The informant offered Papadopoulos a $3,000 honorarium to write a research paper and a paid trip to London. When he met with Papadopoulos, the informant quizzed him about his possible knowledge of Clinton’s emails which had allegedly been hacked by the Russians.
Despite the informant’s best efforts and the extensive FISA surveillance, no proof of Russian collusion by Trump or his campaign has surfaced. But make no mistake. The FBI tried its best to link Trump to Russia but failed, and Trump won the election.
So it is that McCabe’s claim that the FBI didn’t begin investigating Trump until he fired Comey is demonstrably untrue. Comey and McCabe’s FBI investigated Trump during the campaign even as it was meretriciously and repeatedly clearing Hillary Clinton of criminal charges.
Moreover, after the election, McCabe did his part to undermine the new president by setting up Trump’s National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn, for his fatal interview by Special Agent Peter Strzok. According to Joe diGenova, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, McCabe was on a conference call when Flynn’s indictment for lying to the FBI was announced. McCabe reportedly cheered.
All of this points to the conclusion that, contrary to McCabe’s claim, Trump wasn’t targeted by the FBI because he fired Comey. While that may have spurred McCabe and the FBI to intensify their efforts to get Trump and may make for a good cover story, those efforts started during the campaign.
McCabe would have us believe that he was just an honest, nonpartisan lawman alarmed by a threat to national security posed by Trump. In fact, under Comey and McCabe, the FBI was an active adjunct of the Clinton campaign and, after their candidate lost, they sought to undo the outcome of the election.
In February 2018, Joe diGenova summed it up best on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. “It is clear that, at the time prior to the election and subsequent to the election, there were a group of people inside the FBI at the senior levels on the seventh floor [of FBI headquarters] who decided that they were going to protect Hillary Clinton…. they were going to exonerate Hillary and they were going to frame Donald Trump.”
That has been the real story from the very first. But don’t expect the mainstream media to breathe a word of it as they canonize Andrew McCabe, the Savior of America.
George Parry is a former federal and state prosecutor who practices law in Philadelphia. He is a regular contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer and blogs at knowledgeisgood.net. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.