Andrew McCabe, the former deputy FBI director and frequent target of President Trump, who was recently fired days short of retirement, has been referred for criminal prosecution by the Justice Department Inspector General. Although former prosecutors described the referral as routine, it comes in the context of McCabe’s extraordinary status as a frequent scapegoat for the president’s legal woes.
“Any IG report that includes conduct that anyone could ever think is criminal or worrisome will get referred for the U.S. Attorney to take a look. I would be quite surprised if the U.S. Attorney presses charges here, but the more important point here is it’s a routine referral,” Harry Litman, a former deputy assistant attorney general and a law professor at UCLA, said. “It follows as a matter of course from an IG report finding a certain kind of fault that could have any potential criminal conduct involved.”
A recent IG report found that McCabe “lacked candor” in his conversations with internal investigators about a fall 2016 story, which confirmed the existence of an ongoing probe of the Clinton Foundation during the presidential election. McCabe has said he was acting to defend the Bureau’s reputation, but the IG report concluded that McCabe was defending himself when he authorized disclosing a conversation with a Justice Department official to a Wall Street Journal reporter, in which McCabe felt he was resisting pressure to slow-walk the Clinton probe. The report also found that McCabe misled investigators about his role in that disclosure. Despite the fact that that story reflected negatively on Clinton rather than Trump, the president has fixated on McCabe because of his wife’s unsuccessful run for state office in Virginia as a Democrat. McCabe has denied lying to Justice Department investigators.