The Department of Justice announced Friday that it would not pursue charges against former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe following a yearslong investigation into whether he lied to the department about having authorization to leak information to the media during an agency investigation in 2016.
In a letter to McCabe’s counsel, the Justice Department called the case officially “closed.”
“We write to inform you that, after careful consideration, the government has decided not to pursue criminal charges against your client, Andrew G. McCabe,” the brief letter said. “Based on the totality of the circumstances and all of the information known to the government at this time, we consider the matter closed.”
In response to the news, McCabe’s lawyers, Michael Bromwich and David Schertler, said that justice had finally been served.
“At long last, justice has been done in this matter,” the lawyers said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. “We said at the outset of the criminal investigation, almost two years ago, that if the facts and the law determined the result, no charges would be brought.”
What’s the background?
In 2018, the Justice Department opened an investigation into McCabe after Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued a criminal referral for him, accusing him of lying.
The referral claimed that McCabe “lacked candor” in four separate instances “when discussing the disclosure of information for a Wall Street Journal article about the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation,” reported CNN, which had obtained a copy of the report.
Responding to the accusation, McCabe’s legal team denied its client conducted any improper behavior, instead shifting the blame to then-FBI Director James Comey.
“One thing is clear: Mr. McCabe never misled Director Comey. Director Comey’s memory of these interactions was equivocal and speculative, while Mr. McCabe’s recollection is clear, unequivocal and supported by documentary evidence,” the counsel said at the time.
Does this implicate James Comey?
As such, another possible fallout from the closing of McCabe’s case could be the implication of former FBI Director James Comey. At the time that IG Horowitz placed a criminal referral on McCabe, it appeared that it was essentially Comey’s word against his. In other words, it appears that one of the two men is lying.
Comey had told DOJ inspectors that he had never been informed about the leak McCabe authorized, which put him at direct odds with his deputy director.
After being fired in 2018 amid the speculation, McCabe not only argued that he had authority to make the leak but claimed that Comey knew about it, though he did not specify whether Comey simply knew about the leak or if he authorized it.
It should be noted that no word has come from the department as of yet regarding an investigation into Comey.
McCabe was a frequent target of attacks from the president. Apart from simply having differing political views, Trump also believed that McCabe sought to undermine his candidacy while heading the FBI.
With the news of his case being closed coming amid a week marked by tensions between the president and the DOJ, it will likely serve to further exacerbate the situation.
On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr publicly admonished the president to stop tweeting about active DOJ investigations saying it makes it “impossible for me to do my job.”
Trump had gone on a Twitter tirade denouncing recent sentencing recommendations for his friend Roger Stone and roughly the same time the DOJ had suggested the same thing. The timing made it seem as if Trump was directing the department. Both the White House and Barr have since rejected this accusation, but the tensions have remained.