FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe gave “special” status to the Hillary Clinton email probe shortly before last year’s election through an email on his official government account.
“‘McCabe’s Oct. 23, 2016, email to press officials in the FBI said the probe was under the control of a small group of high-ranking people at the FBI’s headquarters in Washington,’ reports The Hill. “
McCabe wrote that he knew the decision was made to investigate the issue at headquarters but had no input when the investigation started in 2015:
“'[The Washington office] provided some personnel for the effort but it was referred to as a ‘special’ and I was not given any details about it,’ he wrote.”
On Wednesday, when asked what McCabe meant by calling the email probe a “special” or why it was restricted to a small team at headquarters, FBI officials refused to answer.
“’We don’t have anything to add to the documents that were released,’ bureau spokeswoman Carol Cratty wrote The Hill.”
More than 70 pages of emails chronicling McCabe’s efforts to address a separate issue involving his wife’s 2015 campaign for political office were released on the FBI’s public records site, The Vault.
McCabe most likely used the term “special” to appease Republican lawmakers who were critical of former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the situation.
“Republicans have slammed his decision not to criminally charge the former secretary of State for transmitting classified information through an unsecure private email server.”
Comey found that, while there was evidence of criminal violations, there was not enough evidence to prove that Clinton intended to violate the law. He also has said that the investigation was handled through normal channels in an “apolitical and professional way.”
Republican lawmakers are now pushing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the way the case was handled. Questions about Comey’s handling of the investigation have risen.
“Comey originally drafted a statement declaring that Clinton had been ‘grossly negligent’ in handling classified materials, a term that would support a felony charge. FBI officials edited the statement before its release in July 2016 to simply say she was ‘extremely careless’ and should not be criminally charged.”
Comey also said that he was directed by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch to not call the case an “investigation,” but to use the term “matter.”
Clinton has denied any allegations of criminal activity, but has taken responsibility for a sloppy use of personal email for classified matters.
“Sessions said this week that he is reviewing the Republicans’ concerns but won’t be pressured into naming a special prosecutor unless certain legal requirements are met.”
The purpose of the email was to help FBI press officials answer questions from a Wall Street Journal reporter. In October 2016, the reporter claimed that Jill McCabe, McCabe’s wife, received hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign funding from Terry McAuliffe, who is a Clinton ally and the Virginia Governor.
“At the time, the FBI had ongoing criminal investigations into both Clinton’s email server and McAuliffe’s fundraising. Charges were never filed in either case.”
McCabe’s email detailed a timeline where McCabe recused himself from any Virginia corruption cases and “not directly involved in the Clinton case during the time his wife ran and lost the 2015 race, to prove that he did not have a conflict of interest when his wife took the money from McAuliffe.
“McCabe wrote that he finally took charge of the Clinton email case in February 2016, when he was promoted to deputy director. By that time, the FBI was eight months into the investigation and his wife had lost the election three months earlier.”
The McCabe emails are also relevant to the investigation of McCabe’s involvement in his wife’s campaign in the violation of the Hatch Act’s prohibition on FBI agents engaging in partisan activities.
There is evidence that McCabe wore campaign shirts and attended some of his wife’s events during the campaign.
“Separately, documents released by McAuliffe’s office show McCabe joined his wife for a meeting in March 2015 during which the then-Virginia governor was asked to support her bid for office. McCabe’s official FBI bio was submitted to the governor’s office in advance of the meeting.”
The emails redact part of McCabe’s timeline that addresses his meeting with McAuliffe. They also show that McCabe fielded several emails about his wife’s campaign from his official FBI account. His wife also alerted McCabe of her offer to run for a democratic seat through his FBI account. McCabe also forwarded information from his wife’s campaign page through the same account.
“A source familiar with the ongoing investigations of McCabe told The Hill that investigators are now in possession of the new emails and will weigh whether they show any activities that violate the Hatch Act’s prohibition on agents’ partisan activity.”