DOJ Watchdog: Andrew McCabe Did Not Recuse Himself from Clinton Foundation Investigation

Andrew McCabe
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who had to recuse himself from investigations concerning Hillary Clinton, did not fully recuse himself from the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation, DOJ Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz’s report found.

“We found that McCabe did not fully comply with his recusal in a few instances related to the Clinton Foundation investigation,” the long-anticipated report, released Thursday, concluded.

The Clinton Foundation came under FBI scrutiny for potential influence peddling at the State Department in late 2015, just as McCabe’s wife’s campaign — which took donations from Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee — was ending in defeat. McCabe was not, at that time, directly involved in either the Clinton Foundation or Hillary Clinton email investigation but would later become involved.

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal broke that Dr. Jill McCabe, the deputy director’s wife, had taken over $500,000 from McAuliffe, the close Clinton-family confidant who would eventually become a member of the Clinton Foundation board. Shortly thereafter, McCabe recused himself from all investigations involving Hillary Clinton, but this fact did not become public for over a year.

According to Horowitz’s report, however, McCabe did not fully disengage with the Clinton Foundation probe. On at least two occasions after his November 1, 2016 recusal, McCabe attempted to inject himself back into that investigation.

First on November 3, 2016, McCabe made a seven- to ten-minute call to William Sweeney, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, where the Clinton Foundation was being investigated. Horowitz’s report writes:

According to Sweeney’s calendar notes on November 4 and testimony to the OIG, McCabe and Sweeney spoke for approximately 10 minutes around 7 a.m., regarding “leaks and WSJ article” and that McCabe was “angry.” Sweeney’s calendar notes also reflect that McCabe expressed to him: “will be consequence[s] and get to bottom of it post elect[ion]. Need leaks to stop. Damaging to org.”

Then, that night, McCabe contacted his Office of Public Affairs to chastise them for not keeping him appraised of press reports regarding the Clinton Foundation investigation.

The IG’s report repeatedly criticizes the decision to keep McCabe’s recusal secret, even as members of Congress asked about it. Lisa Page, another major figure in the controversy surrounding the FBI’s Clinton investigation, apparently tried to keep the following sentence out of a response to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA): “On October [?], 2016, out of an abundance of caution, Mr. McCabe recused himself from further participation in the [Clinton email] investigation.”

As the IG’s report explains:

Lisa Page responded in an email that stated, “No way on [that] sentence. During our conversation with Jim [Baker] last week, both of us express[ed] our overwhelming interest in protecting that fact as long as possible.” Page told us she believed the “both of us” reference was to herself and McCabe, but was not sure. Page told us she believed that McCabe’s recusal, if revealed, would have been misused for political purposes and further inflamed the claims that Comey and McCabe were biased in favor of Clinton.

McCabe, since his ouster from the FBI, has found himself not only at odds with his former boss James Comey, but in potential legal trouble over his leaks to the press and his candor with IG investigators over that matter.

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