WASHINGTON — Prosecutors in Washington, D.C., recommended proceeding with criminal charges against former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a person familiar with the situation told VICE News on Thursday.
The Department of Justice rejected a late-breaking appeal by McCabe to overrule that decision, the person said — bringing one of President Trump’s most prominent critics yet another step closer to indictment.
Charges against McCabe would represent a rare criminal case against a former top FBI official, following his abrupt firing last year just hours before he would have been eligible to retire with full pension.
McCabe’s legal team received an email from the DOJ saying: “The Department rejected your appeal of the United States Attorney’s Office’s decision in this matter. Any further inquiries should be directed to the United States Attorney’s Office.”
McCabe was dismissed after an internal DOJ report concluded he hadn’t been forthcoming with investigators during a probe into the bureau’s dealings with the media. Those investigators then referred their findings to federal prosecutors in Washington for a decision about whether to bring criminal charges.
The exact nature of any pending charges against McCabe remain unclear, and neither the Department of Justice nor the U.S. Attorney’s office for Washington immediately returned requests for comment.
Trump’s allies on cable news have railed against McCabe for months while calling for his indictment. Trump has put McCabe front and center in his repeated attacks on the DOJ and FBI, blasting him as a “major sleazebag” and accusing him of being in cahoots with Trump’s 2016 campaign rival, Hillary Clinton.
The 2018 report by DOJ investigators faulted McCabe for deciding to release details about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation to the Wall Street Journal in 2016, accusing him of trying “to make himself look good.” Doing so effectively confirmed the existence of the Clinton probe, which was supposed to still be under wraps, DOJ investigators said.
McCabe initially told investigators he didn’t remember authorizing the leak, but then later corrected himself.
McCabe has filed suit against Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr for wrongful termination, arguing the move amounted to political retribution for his role in the Russia probe. McCabe asked the judge to restore the full retirement benefits he would have otherwise received.
Cover: Then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe pauses during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, June 7, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)