In an effort to protect himself from criminal indictment fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe centered his defense last night around politics. This is the same ongoing approach deployed by fired FBI Director James Comey.
Within the McCabe statement he attempts to hug Comey tightly:
… […] The OIG investigation has focused on information I chose to share with a reporter [Devlin Barrett] through my public affairs officer [Michael Kortan] and a legal counselor [James Baker].
As Deputy Director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the Director [James Comey], were aware of the interaction with the reporter [Devlin Barrett]. (read full statement)
Which begs the question, if the intent to shape a more favorable narrative for McCabe “was not a secret” then why did the resulting article quote only innocuous “according to FBI officials” citations as oppose to quoting the actual people delivering the information?
It should be noted in the October 23rd, 2016, WSJ article – the overall narrative being sold by Andrew McCabe through Mike Kortan, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok was the decision to drop the Clinton investigation rested entirely on James Comey. In essence, FBI Asst. Director McCabe was attempting to distance his sketchy financial ties to Hillary Clinton from the decision to drop the investigation.
Here’s the backstory:
Prior reporting showed Asst. FBI Director Andrew McCabe -along with the entire small group- became aware of the Clinton emails on the Huma Abedin/Anthony Weiner laptop on September 28th, 2016. Attempting to protect Hillary Clinton, text messages showed McCabe and crew withheld that information for several weeks until October 28, 2016, when congress was notified and a public statement was made by Mike Kortan and FBI Director James Comey.
♦In January of this year Senator Chuck Grassley released a series of text messages between Page and Strzok (full pdf here). Within the release there is a portion of messaging where Lisa Page is identified on the phone with “Devlin” (see page #5 – screen grab below):
[Peter Strzok is ‘INBOX’ and Lisa Page is “OUTBOX’]
The “Devlin” in question is former Wall Street Journal National Security reporter Devlin Barrett, currently with The Washington Post. In the above cited text message exchange Lisa Page is on the phone with Devlin Barrett when the news of the Abedin/Weiner laptop Clinton emails was released. “Mike’s phone is on fire” is referencing former FBI Public Affairs Director, Michael “Mike” Kortan.
♦However, simultaneous to this October 2016 FBI/Clinton investigation matter there was internal “small group” discussion about another controversial issue: the need for Andrew McCabe to recuse himself from the financial investigation of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.
FBI Chief of Staff James “Jim” Rybicki held the opinion that McCabe should recuse himself. However, taking that action may have compromised McCabe’s ability to protect Hillary Clinton. Lisa Page was the legal counsel to McCabe during these events and discussions, and didn’t see the need for a recusal or change of prior plans.
On October 23rd, 2016, Devlin Barrett again reported on a scoop:
“Scoop: McAuliffe PAC gave $467,500 to campaign of wife of senior FBI official who oversaw Clinton email probe” (link)
This October 23rd, 2016, “scoop” aligns with the internal text messaging discussion between Agent Peter Strzok and FBI Attorney Lisa Page who were discussing James Comey’s chief-of-staff James Rybicki recommending that FBI Asst. Director Andrew “Andy” McCabe should be recused from the Hillary Clinton investigation.
From the messaging the recusal was discussed mid-through-late October 2016:
00:52am …”if it’s a matter similar to those we’ve been talking about lately”…
The sourcing for the exclusive report by Devlin Barrett contained great details about the internal discussion on the controversy of Andrew McCabe and his financial connections to Clinton/McAuliffe.
We now know the leaks for the story were coordinated by Asst. FBI Direct Andrew McCabe, communications officer Michael Kortan; legal counsel James Baker, and likely provided by FBI lawyer Lisa Page and FBI agent Peter Strzok. McCabe is also now saying that FBI Director James Comey was aware of what they were doing:
“Article is out, but hidden behind paywall so can’t read it,” Page texted Strzok on Oct. 24, 2016.
“Wsj? Boy that was fast,” Strzok texted back, using the initials of the famed financial newspaper. “Should I ‘find’ it and tell the team?” (link)
According to the New York Times article spin earlier this month: […] “The inspector general has concluded that Mr. McCabe authorized F.B.I. officials to provide information for that article, according to the four people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the report before it is published. The public affairs office had arranged a phone call to discuss the case, the people said. Mr. McCabe, as deputy director, had the authority to engage the news media.”
Again, the October 2016 “public affairs office” was Michael “Mike” Kortan.
IG Horowitz ultimately confronted McCabe about the leak story to Devlin Barrett via the ‘small group’ (McCabe, Baker, Kortan, Page and Strzok) to the Wall Street Journal.
This is where McCabe was less than forthcoming about his involvement. Those misleading statements and lies by McCabe led to a referral by the Inspector General to the Office of Professional Responsibility. The OPR recommended McCabe firing, AG Jeff Sessions fired him.
Worth noting – Mike Kortan is the same FBI official who released the previous unauthorized FBI statement about the Nunes memo: “grave concerns about material omissions of fact” etc. A few days later Kortan was advised to resign by current FBI Director Christopher Wray.