Politics

FBI May Fire Andrew McCabe After Review Finds He Wasn’t “Forthcoming” About Clinton Investigation

Andrew McCabe in a hallway on Capitol Hill on Dec. 21, 2017.
Andrew McCabe on Capitol Hill on Dec. 21.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Wow: A New York Times report says that an internal disciplinary process triggered by the ongoing independent inspector general review of the FBI’s investigations into Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has concluded that former agency Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should be fired.

McCabe, long targeted by right-wing figures including Donald Trump for being one of the alleged ringleaders of a “deep state” anti-Trump conspiracy, was reportedly found to have not been “forthcoming” during the inspector general’s review of his work on the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation. McCabe is currently on leave pending his retirement—which was set to take place this Sunday—and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Times says, is responsible for reviewing the recommendation that he be terminated.

One big caveat here: The underlying issue that McCabe was not “forthcoming” about may (may!) have involved behavior that hurt Hillary Clinton:

The allegations revolve around disclosures to The Wall Street Journal, which revealed in October 2016 a dispute between the F.B.I. and Justice Department over how to proceed in an investigation into the Clinton family’s foundation. The article said that the Justice Department would not authorize subpoenas in the case. Some F.B.I. agents, the article said, believed that Mr. McCabe had put the brakes on the investigation. Others rejected that notion. …

In the Journal story, a person described as close to Mr. McCabe pushed back on the notion that he had tried to shut down the Clinton Foundation investigation. To the contrary, the person described a tense conversation with the Justice Department in which Mr. McCabe insisted his agents had the authority to keep investigating.

The article was a negative one for the Clinton campaign.

“The details of why the inspector general viewed Mr. McCabe as not forthcoming are not clear,” the Times says.

Before McCabe began overseeing the Clinton Foundation case, his wife ran an unsuccessful campaign for Virginia office as a Democrat during which she benefited indirectly from a fundraiser at which Clinton appeared. This history is the root of the idea that McCabe led a pro-Hillary, anti-Trump faction within the FBI; it’s been previously reported, however, that McCabe voted in the 2016 Republican primary rather than in the Democratic primary in which he could have voted for Clinton, and the Times says he has “described himself to friends as a lifelong Republican voter.” (He did not vote in the 2016 general election.)

The larger investigation into the FBI’s Clinton-Trump situation is being conducted by Department of Justice inspector general Michael Horowitz, a career prosecutor who worked in the DOJ during the Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II administrations and was nominated for his current job by Barack Obama in 2011 before being confirmed easily by the Senate. Inspectors general can be fired by the president but otherwise operate independently within the executive branch; as it happens, Horowitz was involved in a conflict with the Obama administration and the James Comey FBI over access to evidence in 2015. He is expected to issue a full report about the FBI, Trump, and Clinton this spring.