The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) report that led to Andrew McCabe’s firing says former Director James Comey recalled that McCabe denied authorizing agents to talk to reporters, something McCabe has since claimed Comey approved.
If you haven’t been keeping up with this story, McCabe was fired by AG Sessions earlier this month, just a couple days before he was set to retire with a pension. Progressives cried foul (of course) but Sessions said the firing was based on two reports, one by the DOJ Inspector General and one by the OPR, both of which found that McCabe had displayed a “lack of candor” about authorizing agents to speak to reporters. Lack of candor is FBI speak for lying to investigators.
Friday, CNN reported that former Director Comey told the Inspector General he did not recall being told that McCabe had authorized anyone to speak to reporters:
Former FBI Director James Comey told internal investigators at the Justice Department that he could not recall McCabe telling him about having authorized FBI officials to talk to a reporter about an ongoing investigation, the sources said…
Another source familiar with the matter argued that the discrepancy between the two accounts is more about the fact that they are recalling the interaction differently than a dispute about what took place, saying both were acting in “good faith.”
“They recall it differently,” the source said. “Andy thinks in good faith he told him, and Comey in good faith says he wasn’t told.”
The source added that “the notion that the two guys are pitted against each other is crazy.”
McCabe’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, says he has emails (which CNN hasn’t seen) showing that Comey was informed about the leaks. So is this all just a misunderstanding? Are they just recalling things slightly differently? That’s clearly what at least one of these unnamed sources is trying to suggest, but CNN also reports that Comey denounced the leaks in an Oct. 2016 staff meeting and that he specifically recalled McCabe denying that he had authorized these specific leaks.
The OPR report, according to one source who was briefed, stated that Comey held a staff meeting on October 31, 2016, where he warned the bureau about how damaging the leaks were for an ongoing investigation. Comey, the report states, recalled that McCabe had denied authorizing FBI officials speak to the Journal, the source said.
Before you render a decision on that one, keep in mind that the disagreement between McCabe and Comey isn’t the only reason McCabe was found to lack candor by the IG and the OPR. At the very end of the story, CNN gets to the rest of it:
The OPR report states that McCabe was interviewed last May by the FBI’s investigative division about the Journal story where he denied approving of FBI officials speaking to the Wall Street Journal, according to the source briefed on the report. A couple months later, McCabe denied the matter again to the inspector general. But he followed up with the inspector general in August 2017 to declare he may have allowed FBI officials to speak with the newspaper, the source said.
So to sum this up, McCabe told the OPR, the IG, and James Comey he had not approved officials speaking to reporters at the Wall Street Journal. Months later, McCabe changed his story and told the IG that he may, in fact, have authorized speaking to reporters. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s how McCabe explained his change of heart in his post-firing broadside at Trump [emphasis added]:
The investigation subsequently focused on who I talked to, when I talked to them, and so forth. During these inquiries, I answered questions truthfully and as accurately as I could amidst the chaos that surrounded me. And when I thought my answers were misunderstood, I contacted investigators to correct them.
So he was asked, did you authorize this? He said no, not once but twice. Then months later he revised that statement. And now he’s claiming he not only authorized it but Comey knew about it all along. Only Comey says McCabe denied it to him too. And the fact that Comey criticized the staff for it in that Oct. 2016 meeting suggests he didn’t know his own deputy had authorized it.
None of this looks very good for McCabe. But thanks to his GoFundMe, he’s got plenty of money to contest it all in court.