Justice Department Filing Suggests No McCabe Prosecution Imminent
In pending lawsuit, DOJ says it won’t block release of documents related to former deputy FBI head based on probe
By Aruna Viswanatha | The Wall StreeT Journal
Updated Nov. 13, 2019 2:30 pm ET
The Justice Department suggested in a filing Wednesday that it had no immediate plans to prosecute former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying it would no longer try to keep documents related to Mr. McCabe from being publicly released because of an ongoing enforcement proceeding.
A federal judge had given the Justice Department a deadline of this week to disclose whether it planned to charge Mr. McCabe, who has been under investigation since last year for allegedly misleading internal investigators about a media disclosure.
When imposing that deadline, Judge Reggie Walton criticized prosecutors for leaving the case “in limbo” and said the lack of a decision was undermining the credibility of the department and the court.
A federal grand jury met in September to consider charges against Mr. McCabe without issuing an indictment, in a sign the case against him could be in jeopardy.
The judge’s order came in a lawsuit by the nonprofit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which is seeking records about the internal Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry into Mr. McCabe.
The Justice Department sidestepped the question of Mr. McCabe’s exact status in its Wednesday filing, saying only that it would no longer invoke an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act that allows the agency to limit the release of any information related to an enforcement proceeding.
The agency had earlier said it couldn’t provide the information because of the ongoing investigation. A spokeswoman for Mr. McCabe declined to comment.
The judge had asked for a prosecutor from the U.S. attorney’s office, which is investigating Mr. McCabe, to appear at a hearing scheduled for Thursday and answer questions about the investigation. In the Wednesday filing, the Justice Department asked to waive that request, given it would no longer seek to withhold documents based on any investigation. Later Wednesday, Judge Walton denied the request.
An attorney for CREW objected to that request in a separate filing on Wednesday, saying that the Justice Department has resisted turning over information for months based on the inquiry.
The Justice Department’s actions so far raise “serious questions about the government’s conduct and the extent to which it may have abused court processes to advance its own interests over those of the public,” CREW wrote, adding: “[T]he Court, the plaintiff, and the public are entitled to an explanation for DOJ’s sudden and unexplained reversal.”
The department’s internal watchdog concluded last year that Mr. McCabe misled investigators about his role in providing information related to an investigation into the Clinton Foundation in October 2016 to a Wall Street Journal reporter. Mr. McCabe has long disputed the allegations.
Mr. McCabe, who helped oversee politically sensitive investigations related to both President Trump and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, has, like his former boss James Comey, become the subject of frequent Twitter attacks by Mr. Trump.
Mr. McCabe was fired from his job in March 2018 just a day before he was eligible to retire with full benefits, and in a lawsuit against the Justice Department in August, he said his firing was unlawful and part of a plot to remove law-enforcement officials who Mr. Trump deemed insufficiently loyal to his personal interests. The Justice Department has denied the allegations and filed a motion to dismiss the case.