The Justice Department’s inspector general has sent its findings that former FBI Director Andrew McCabe repeatedly misled investigators to federal prosecutors for possible criminal charges, according to multiple reports published Thursday.
It is unclear when the office of the inspector general made its referral, and prosecutors may decline to pursue charges, CNN, which originally broke the story, reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.
The inspector general was reviewing disclosures to the media about the FBI’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation. It ultimately faulted McCabe for authorizing the leak to the Wall Street Journal and said McCabe misled investigators probing the matter on four occasions.
While making unauthorized disclosures of non-classified information is not a criminal act strictly speaking, lying to federal investigators is and carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
McCabe has disputed the report’s findings.
The FBI’s former number two was fired last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions due, in part, to the findings of the inspector general. The abrupt dismissal came just over a day before McCabe could retire, cutting part of the benefits he would have received had he been able to do so.
McCabe has been a primary focus of President Donald Trump’s consternation for his role in some of the bureau’s most high-profile cases, including the investigation into Russia’s alleged attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Following his dismissal, Trump said in a statement issued on Twitter that McCabe “LIED! LIED! LIED!”
“McCabe was totally controlled by Comey – McCabe is Comey!!” he said, referring to James Comey, the former FBI director whom Trump fired, and who has since published a scathing book delving into his time with the president.
The tweet sparked a retort from Michael Bromwich, McCabe’s attorney, who told Trump on the microblogging site: “Thank you for providing even more material for the defamation suit we are actively considering filing against you and your colleagues. Stay tuned.”
Thursday’s news led Bromwich to say he does not believe charges will ultimately be filed against his client. He said he was notified of the referral “within the past few weeks”.
“We are confident that, unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the Administration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will conclude that it should decline to prosecute,” Bromwich said in a statement, according to CNN.