Hillary-linked G-man still investigating Trump

By Paul Sperry

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe

Politically compromised deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe continues to run an investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged “collusion” with Russia, bureau sources familiar with the probe say – even though it overlaps with the special counsel’s investigation, and even though McCabe, whose wife is a Democratic activist, is under investigation for political conflicts of interest.

As the subject of no fewer than three separate investigations of his own, McCabe is operating under a growing ethical cloud, critics inside the bureau complain.

Yet, he is “still running that investigation,” an FBI source said. “He didn’t recuse himself from the Hillary Clinton case, and he won’t recuse himself from the Russian matter.”

Though Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over the Russia investigation from the FBI in May, McCabe continues to oversee a parallel investigation through the bureau’s national security division, sources say. And he maintains a lead role in the case, despite being replaced Aug. 2 as acting FBI director by Trump appointee Christopher Wray.

President Trump has questioned McCabe’s objectivity and called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to remove him, because he “got $700,000 for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives.”

Trump’s recent tweet referred to financial and political connections McCabe had to the Clinton machine last year via Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton operative. A PAC tied to McAuliffe and the Democratic Party of Virginia together pumped $675,288 into Jill McCabe’s campaign for a state Senate seat, while the FBI was investigating Clinton for mishandling classified information and possible espionage at the State Department.

The Justice Department inspector general is investigating allegations McCabe may not have properly disclosed the campaign payments to his wife on his ethics report and should have recused himself from Clinton’s email case.

McCabe insists he did not have to recuse himself, because he did not involve himself in his wife’s campaign.

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However, former FBI official Robyn Gritz alleges that social media photos she found show McCabe actively campaigned for his wife’s race in violation of the Hatch Act, according to a whistleblower complaint she has filed against McCabe. The Hatch Act prohibits FBI and other federal employees from campaigning in partisan political races.

During McCabe’s tenure, “FBI personnel routinely received emails from FBI headquarters forbidding participation in political campaigns, because it would constitute a violation of the Hatch Act,” a veteran FBI special agent said in an interview. “McCabe must have deleted that email.”

Added the agent: “He lacked the common sense to recuse himself from the email investigation, campaigned for his wife in the election in direct violation of the Hatch Act, and financially benefitted from the PAC controlled by Hillary Clinton’s close friend.”

The Office of U.S. Special Counsel, the government’s chief whistleblower agency, is investigating the whistleblower charge, along with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The chairman of the powerful Senate panel – Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa – recently noted that McCabe in 2015 met in person with McAuliffe and other Democrats “about his wife’s political plans,” adding that McCabe’s official FBI biography was used to help set up the meeting and the goal was for McAuliffe to “close the deal” and get his wife the funds to run for office.

Grassley also pointed out that McCabe may have a conflict of interest investigating former National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was fired earlier this year after the FBI opened an investigation into his contacts with Russian officials. Flynn reportedly wrote a letter in support of Gritz, making him an adverse witness to McCabe in a pending proceeding.

The McCabes on the campaign trail
The McCabes on the campaign trail

Also, three current FBI employees reportedly witnessed McCabe make disparaging remarks about Flynn before and during the Russia investigation.

“Yet, Mr. McCabe supervised a criminal investigation of Flynn and allegedly wanted it pursued very aggressively,” Grassley said in a recent statement. “His failure to (recuse himself from the case) calls into question whether he has handled that investigation fairly and objectively.”

Grassley has further questioned McCabe’s independence by citing reports he attempted to pay an outside investigator to dig up dirt on Trump when he was still a candidate for president. He maintains McCabe likely entered into negotiations to pay Christopher Steele, the author of a now-discredited dossier on Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, to continue to investigate Trump and his campaign associates.

Grassley’s committee is investigating whether McCabe based investigative actions, such as surveillance, on information in the unsubstantiated dossier.

“Mr. McCabe’s appearance of a partisan conflict of interest relating to Clinton associates only magnifies the importance of those questions. That is particularly true if Mr. McCabe was involved in approving or establishing the FBI’s reported arrangement with Mr. Steele, or if Mr. McCabe vouched for or otherwise relied on the politically-funded dossier in the course of the investigation,” Grassley wrote the FBI earlier this year in a letter.

“Simply put, the American people should know if the FBI’s second-in-command relied on Democrat-funded opposition research to justify an investigation of the Republican presidential campaign,” the senator added. “Full disclosure is especially important since he (McCabe) is already under investigation for failing to recuse himself from the Clinton matter due to his partisan Democrat ties.”

In testimony earlier this year before the Senate Intelligence Committee, McCabe argued the FBI has a “responsibility” to continue investigating the Russia intelligence matter, though he said he would work with the special counsel to avoid crossing “lanes” with Mueller’s investigation.

“The FBI maintains a much broader responsibility to continue investigating issues relative to potential Russian intelligence activity and threats posed to us from our Russian adversaries,” McCabe said, “So determining exactly where those lanes in the road are, where does director Mueller’s scope overlap into our pre-existing and long-running Russian responsibilities is somewhat of a challenge at the moment, and that is why I’m trying to be particularly respectful of his efforts and not take steps that may compromise his investigation.”

Because McCabe is a civil servant and not a political appointee, Trump cannot fire him directly, as he did in the case of former FBI director James Comey.

Trump appointee Wray would also have a hard time firing McCabe. As a member of the Senior Executive Service, McCabe enjoys protections from a simple firing. And he cannot be reassigned for several months after a new agency director is installed without his consent.

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