“Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe faced scorching criticism and potential criminal prosecution for changing his story about a conversation he had with a Wall Street Journal reporter. Now newly released interview transcripts show McCabe expressed remorse to internal FBI investigators when they pressed him on the about-face.
The FBI released the documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). They provide fresh details about the investigation into a leak to the Journal, McCabe’s role in it, and the reaction of agents who investigated it.
In the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, the Journal broke news about an FBI investigation involving then-candidate Hillary Clinton, describing internal discussions among senior FBI officials.
The apparent leak drew scrutiny from the bureau’s internal investigation team, which interviewed McCabe on May 9, 2017, the day President Donald Trump fired James Comey from his post as FBI director. The agents interviewed him as part of an investigation regarding a different media leak to the online publication Circa and also asked him about the Journal story.
In that interview, McCabe said he did not know how the Journal story came to be. But a few months later, his story changed after he reviewed his answer.
On Aug. 18, FBI officials met with McCabe in an attempt to work through what they said was “conflicting information” they had gathered about the possible leak to the Journal.
“I need to know from you,” an agent said he told McCabe in a sit-down meeting, “did you authorize this article? Were you aware of it? Did you authorize it?”
McCabe then looked at the story he had reviewed months earlier.
The FBI investigator described his response this way: “And as nice as could be, he said, yep. Yep I did.”
The investigator then said that “things had suddenly changed 180 degrees with this.” The interviewers stopped taking notes on what McCabe was saying, and the agent indicated their view of McCabe had changed: He was no longer a witness or victim. “In our business, we stop and say, look, now we’re getting into an area for due process,” the agent said.” (Read more: The Daily Beast, 12/31/2019) (Archive)