FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whose wife Jill had hundreds of thousands of dollars thrown behind her Virginia State Senate campaign by a Clinton-allied PAC, recused himself from the Hillary Clinton email investigation days before the 2016 presidential election, according to new documents obtained by Judicial Watch.
The DOJ records were obtained by Judicial Watch in a year-old Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request over which they had launched a lawsuit. The documents were released by Judicial Watch Friday. They indicate McCabe, who remains in his post and served as acting director of the FBI from James Comey’s ouster until Christopher Wray’s confirmation in August, did not recuse himself from the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State until November 1, 2016.
This recusal one week before the election, four days after then-Director Comey made his momentous announcement that the FBI had reopened the investigation based on new data found on the hard drives of disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), and eight days after the links between McCabe’s wife and long-time Clinton ally Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe went public.
Jill McCabe, a political newcomer with little history in the Virginia Democratic Party, was getting over half a million dollars in campaign backing from McAuliffe’s PAC in 2015, at a time her husband’s agency, the FBI, was investigating Clinton. According to the Wall Street Journal report that broke the story, Andrew McCabe was not intimately involved in oversight of the Clinton investigation until after he was appointed deputy director in February, 2016, at which point his wife’s campaign had already failed. At the time of Jill McCabe’s announcement, however, the Clinton investigation was already public knowledge.
An internal FBI memo was issued the same day as the Journal report and was published Friday by Judicial Watch. It tried to defend McCabe from the implication of impropriety in his involvement in the Clinton investigation before his promotion. “Did Andrew McCabe have any oversight of the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s email server while his wife was running for political office?” the memo asks, answering:
No. The FBI investigation into Secretary Clinton’s email server began in July 2015 after a referral was received by the Intelligence Community Inspector General. At that time, Andrew McCabe served as the Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington Field Office and had no oversight of the investigation. Jill McCabe lost the election on Nov. 3, 2015. It was not until he assumed the position of Deputy Director in February 2016 that he had oversight of the investigation, well after her political campaign had concluded.
Later the memo claims:
After the referral was made, FBI Headquarters asked the Washington Field Office for personnel to conduct a special investigation. McCabe was serving as [Assistant Director] and provided personnel resources. However, he was not told what the investigation was about. In February 2016 McCabe became Deputy Director and began overseeing the Clinton investigation.
Neither McCabe nor other FBI officials ever publicly mentioned him having recused himself. Desite the defenses of the internal FBI memo, however, it appears McCabe did, in fact, do so under pressure after the revelations about his wife’s connections to the Clintons became clear. He sent an email to that effect dated November 1, revealed for the first time Friday.
Conservatives in Congress, like House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), repeatedly raised concerns about McCabe’s involvement, both before the election and after. So did former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton was convinced the documents his organization uncovered confirmed the months of concern over McCabe. “The FBI is compromised. Mr. McCabe should have been nowhere near the Hillary Clinton investigations,” he said. “That he saw fit to recuse himself only days before the election further demonstrates the FBI’s Clinton email investigation was a sham. No wonder it took a year and a federal lawsuit to get these records. It is well past time for the Justice Department to reopen the Clinton email investigation.”