NEW YORK — Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe lent some credibility to a previous White House claim that some FBI personnel were upset over the agency’s decision, under the leadership of disgraced ex-FBI Director James Comey, not to charge Hillary Clinton in the criminal probe of her private email server use.
The claim that some FBI rank-and-file workers lost confidence in Comey following his infamous press conference announcing that no charges would be brought has been in dispute.
Yet in largely unreported testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on December 21, 2017, McCabe confirmed that some FBI personnel were “surprised” and “frustrated” with the result of the Clinton email case as announced by Comey. A transcript of McCabe’s testimony was released three weeks ago by House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga.
On July 5, 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign, Comey held a notorious press conference during which he bypassed Justice Department tradition by unilaterally declaring that “no charges are appropriate” in the case of Clinton’s private email server. It is not the role of the FBI to make such pronouncements.
In his testimony, McCabe clarified that he was “not aware” of sentiments expressing disappointment or surprise from within the small unit that specifically investigated Clinton’s email case. But he stated several times that there was negative sentiment about Comey’s decision within the larger FBI.
“I am not aware of those sentiments within the team,” MCcCabe said. “But I am aware that the outcome of the case was surprising, and maybe frustrating to many people, including some of the people who work for the FBI.”
Asked what those FBI employees were surprised about, McCabe replied, “I think, like many people around the country, they were surprised by the result in the case and the fact that we were not recommending pursuing charges.”
“When I say surprise,” he added, “I’m talking about people who heard the Director’s statement on July 5 and were frustrated with that result, not people who were engaged in the investigation or the prosecutors across the street at the Department of Justice.”
McCabe was asked to respond to a November 2016 statement from Trump confidante Rudy Giuliani that he had heard from other former FBI agents “there’s a revolution going on” inside the agency over the decision not to charge Clinton.
“I am not aware of a revolution,” McCabe replied before going on to once again concede that some FBI agents were indeed surprised and possibly frustrated.
“As I said, there was certainly FBI personnel who were surprised and maybe frustrated by that result,” McCabe continued. “Director Comey spent a lot of time, in the months following his announcement, you know, in visits to field offices and interactions with retired agents’ groups, and things like that, answering a lot of questions about why we had done what we had done.”
The White House official who took the most flack for saying that FBI agents were upset over the case was undoubtedly White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who made a statement to that effect to reporters on May 10, 2017.
“Most importantly, the rank-and-file of the FBI had lost confidence in Comey,” she said, discussing Comey’s loss of credibility. “We’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.”
According to the final report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, Sanders walked back some of those statements.
Reads the report: “Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from ‘countless members of the FBI’ was a ‘slip of the tongue.’”
“She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made ‘in the heat of the moment’ that was not founded on anything,” the report continued.
After the release of Mueller’s report, Sanders went on Fox News where she maintained that the claim about disgruntled FBI agents over the Clinton email case was “not untrue.”
“I acknowledge that I had a slip of the tongue when I used the word ‘countless,’ but it’s not untrue,” she said, explaining that she meant to convey that “a number of both current and former FBI agents agreed with the president. James Comey was a disgraced leaker who tried to politicize and undermine the very agency he was supposed to run.”
In the wake of the Mueller report’s release, CNN political analyst April Ryan went so far as to call for Sanders to be fired over her statements about FBI agents.
“Not only does she not have any credibility left, she lied,” Ryan claimed. “She outright lied and the people, the American people, can’t trust her. They can’t trust what’s said from the president’s mouthpiece, spokesperson, from the people’s house.”
“Therefore, she should be let go; she should be fired; end of story,” Ryan stated. “When there is a lack of credibility there, you have to start … lopping the heads off. It’s ‘Fire me Thursday’ or ‘Fire me, Good Friday.’ She needs to go.”
In October 2016, the Daily Caller reported that some FBI agents were frustrated with Comey’s leadership following the Clinton email probe conclusion.
“This is a textbook case where a grand jury should have convened but was not. That is appalling,” one FBI special agent who has worked public corruption and criminal cases was quoted as saying in a transcript obtained by the Daily Caller. “We talk about it in the office and don’t know how Comey can keep going.”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.