- Alex Wong/Getty
- FBI ethics officials did not warn FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe against becoming involved in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, newly released documents show.
- Memos and emails released by the FBI in November showed that McCabe followed bureau protocol regarding potential conflicts of interest when he learned that his wife was running for Virginia’s state senate.
- McCabe has come under attack by President Donald Trump over a donation made to his wife’s campaign by a political ally of the Clintons.
The FBI released a series of internal emails and documents last week showing that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was not warned against becoming involved in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server but recused himself anyway following a report in The Wall Street Journal about political donations made to his wife in 2015.
McCabe was attacked last month on Twitter by President Donald Trump, who said: “How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?”
A political action committee run by former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close political ally of the Clintons, gave nearly half a million dollars to McCabe’s wife’s campaign for Virginia state senate in 2015.
Officials at the Washington field office on April 29, 2015, warned McCabe that his wife’s candidacy could pose a conflict of interest, the documents showed. McCabe followed bureau protocol and recused himself from public corruption investigations arising out of or connected to Virginia, according to documents released by the bureau in November in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the right-wing legal watchdog Judicial Watch.
McCabe was not warned, however, against becoming involved in the Clinton email investigation, which was launched four months after his wife announced her candidacy.
The FBI has contended that McCabe, then the assistant director in charge of the Washington field office, “provided personnel resources” to the email investigation but “was not told what the investigation was about” until he was appointed deputy director in February 2016.
By that point, the Virginia campaign had concluded and the email investigation was already seven months old.
- Brian Snyder/Reuters
McCabe took action the day his wife announced her candidacy
The documents released by the FBI in November show that McCabe scheduled a meeting with the FBI’s Office of Integrity and Compliance to discuss potential conflicts on March 11, 2015 – the day his wife formally announced her candidacy.
During that meeting, which took place April 29, 2015, FBI officials determined “several areas” in which McCabe’s “disassociation” would be appropriate.
“Specifically,” the document said, “all public corruption investigations arising out of or otherwise connected to the Commonwealth of Virginia present potential conflicts, as Dr. McCabe is running for state office and is supported by the Governor of Virginia.”
As a result, it was decided that McCabe would be “excluded from any involvement in all such cases.”
McCabe received numerous encouraging emails from friends and supporters as his wife’s campaign continued, the documents showed.
“Andy, I am so impressed by your lovely wife,” one friend wrote to him in May 2015. “She is one sharp cookie!”
McCabe forwarded the note to his wife and said: “You hit it out of the park. As always. Well done lovely wife.”
— Dr. Jill McCabe (@DrJillMcCabe) November 3, 2015
Jill McCabe lost the election, which was held November 3, 2015, by about 900 votes. Six days later, McCabe turned down a job in the private sector that paid about $300,000, according to the person who pitched it to him.
“Regretfully, I am not in a position to move forward on this,” McCabe said. A portion of his explanation was redacted.
McCabe was appointed deputy FBI director on February 1, 2016, and assumed an oversight role on the Clinton email investigation for the first time.
‘It’s going to get rough’
On October 23, 2016, months after the Clinton email investigation had ended, The Wall Street Journal reported that McAuliffe’s political action committee had donated to Jill McCabe’s campaign.
Emails released by the FBI in November show that McCabe was actively working with the Justice Department’s Office of Public Affairs to respond to The Journal’s questions before the story was published.
“Important to point out that I consulted with HQ, Pat Kelly, and WFO counsel in March of 2015 when Jill was making her decision,” McCabe wrote, referring to his wife and the Office of Integrity and Compliance’s chief compliance officer, Pat Kelley.
“Kelly advised me on the Hatch Act and following his advice I decided that I would play no role in the campaign,” McCabe wrote. “Other than appearing in one family photo that was used in a mailer, I played no role.”
The Journal’s story, titled “Clinton Ally Aided Campaign of FBI Official’s Wife,” was published that night, about two weeks before the Election Day. By that point, Trump had been warning his supporters for months that the election could be “rigged.”
“Awesome,” McCabe replied when he was sent the published report by someone at the FBI’s Office of General Counsel. “Sucks pretty much. Buckle in. It’s going to get rough.”
The OGC official replied: “I know. It’s awful. I shouldn’t be shocked by know, but I really am appalled. There are easily 4 or 5 facts he has purposefully shaded or omitted or mischaracterized in order to get out the story HE wanted to tell. You need to be prepared with a discussion of that tomorrow morning, the facts he purposefully mischaracterized, non-defensively, just more of a shoulder shrug, we told him x, he chose to characterize it a different way.”
“Things are probably going to get a bit rough today,” McCabe wrote to an unidentified recipient on October 24. “Another unfortunate bit of irresponsible ‘journalism’ in a particularly irresponsible time.”
On October 28, FBI Director James Comey effectively reopened the Clinton email investigation, writing to several congressional committee chairmen that “the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to this investigation.”
On November 1, 2016, McCabe voluntarily recused himself from that investigation.
“I will continue to respond to congressional requests for historical information as necessary,” he wrote in an email to top FBI officials.
Clinton was cleared by Comey – again – on November 7.