The Department of Justice's watchdog has made a criminal referral regarding fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, CBS News has confirmed. The referral comes after the recent blistering IG report claiming McCabe "lacked candor" about his interactions with Wall Street Journal reporter Devlin Barrett, who was writing about the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton's private email server.
The IG's investigation centered on whether McCabe authorized the disclosure of the contents of a phone call he had with the then-principal associate deputy attorney general to Barrett, for an article, "FBI in internal feud over Hillary Clinton probe" on Oct. 30, 2016. It is not yet clear what those recommended charges are. The DOJ IG declined to comment. McCabe's counsel, Michael R. Bromwich, gave the following statement:
"We were advised of the referral within the past few weeks," Bromwich said. "Although we believe the referral is unjustified, the standard for an IG referral is very low. We have already met with staff members from the U.S. Attorney's Office. 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."
His former boss, James Comey, has read the IG's report and has defended McCabe in the past. Nonetheless, he said Tuesday on ABC's "The View" that he had ordered the investigation into McCabe.
"I ordered that investigation. We investigate and hold people accountable," he said. "Good people lie.... I still believe Andrew McCabe is a good person, but the inspector general found that he lied, and there are severe consequences as there should be throughout the government."
Comey told NPR earlier this week that McCabe "thinks he told me he had done it (authorized the disclosure of the call to the WSJ) after he had done it."
"I'm quite confident that didn't happen, as is the inspector general," Comey said.
"DOJ just issued the McCabe report - which is a total disaster. He LIED! LIED! LIED! McCabe was totally controlled by Comey - McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!" Mr. Trump tweeted after the release of the IG report.
McCabe has a robust legal defense fund, if criminal charges are introduced related to him. A GoFundMe page raised nearly $568,000 for any of McCabe's future legal bills.
It is up to the U.S. Attorney in D.C. to decide if criminal charges are warranted.
McCabe was fired two days before he was set to retire, at the recommendation of FBI officials. While at the FBI, McCabe played a pivotal role in the investigation into Clinton's emails.
Comey declined to criticize McCabe directly in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper Thursday afternoon.
Mr. Trump claimed that Comey "just threw Andrew McCabe 'under the bus.'"
— CBS News' Jeff Pegues, Andy Triay and Katie Ross Dominick contributed to this report.