Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department continues to stand by the findings of the DOJ watchdog that fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lied under oath to investigators during a leak investigation despite the Biden DOJ reversing his firing and settling his lawsuit against it with a big payout.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report in 2018 detailed multiple instances in which McCabe “lacked candor” with FBI Director James Comey, FBI investigators, and inspector general investigators, including while under oath, about his authorization to leak sensitive information to the Wall Street Journal that revealed the existence of an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
But McCabe won back his full pension last week as part of the settlement with the DOJ in his wrongful termination lawsuit filed in 2019. The agreement allows McCabe to retire and receive an estimated $200,000 in missed pension payments and $539,000 in attorney’s fees for his lawyers. The agreement also requires the DOJ to provide him with a plaque of his FBI badge and Senior Executive Service cufflinks.
Garland was questioned by GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, arguing that “under your leadership, instead of punishing him, the department reinstated his retirement and expunged his records as part of the settlement” as he called DOJ’s actions “beyond incredible.” Grassley asked if he had authorized the McCabe settlement.
“The McCabe settlement was the recommendation of the career lawyers litigating that case based on their prospects of success in the case,” Garland said. “The case did not involve issues about lying. It involved a claim that he was not given the amount of time necessary to respond to allegations. The litigators concluded that they needed to settle the case because of the likelihood of loss on that claim.”
Garland insisted the DOJ still stood by Horowitz’s report, however, saying: "The inspector general’s report still stands. We have not questioned in any way the inspector general’s findings. The reference with respect to false statements was made to the Justice Department in the previous administration and declined in the previous administration. The only issue here was an assessment of litigation merits.”
After the release of the Horowitz report, which concluded “the evidence is substantial” that McCabe misled investigators “knowingly and intentionally," then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe in March 2018 just before he was set to retire. McCabe denied wrongdoing and sued the DOJ in 2019, claiming his firing was brought on due to pressure from then-President Donald Trump.
The Trump-era DOJ decided in early 2020 not to prosecute McCabe over his alleged dishonesty.
Grassley asked Garland if he agreed with U.S. taxpayers having to pick up what could end up being “a multimillion-dollar bill for someone who lied under oath to government officials.” Garland replied simply, “The assessment by the litigators was that the bill to the taxpayers would be higher if we didn’t resolve the matter the way it was resolved.”
Horowitz appeared at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing last Thursday, and Republican Sen. Rob Portman asked Horowitz to speak about his findings.
“The FBI internal investigators developed information that they believed — led them to believe — that Deputy Director McCabe may have lied to them,” Horowitz said. “They then referred the matter to us, given the position he held at the FBI. We assumed the investigation and concluded in a public report that remains on our website — and the public can see — that Mr. McCabe lied both under oath and not under oath on several occasions when he denied at various points certain key facts and information, including who was the source of the leak.”
During an appearance on CNN, where he is a law enforcement analyst, McCabe said last week, “Trump demanded this, and Jeff Sessions complied, and the rest of the Department of Justice complied as well.” He also said Horowitz "delivered a truncated, rushed, unfair report that left out material evidence.” Horowitz is widely respected by both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Portman asked the watchdog if there had been any influence on his report from Trump or anyone else in the Trump administration.
“Absolutely none," Horowitz said, adding, “Our findings remain on our website. We stand by our findings. The public can read them. They can go to our website. And by the way, the FBI issued a statement stating that they stand by their findings.”
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Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy