As the FBI's investigation into the Clinton Foundation pressed on during the 2016 election, a senior official with the Obama justice department, identified as Matthew Axelrod, called former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe - who thought the DOJ was pressuring him to shut down the investigation, according to the recently released inspector general's (OIG) report.
The official was “very pissed off” at the FBI, the report says, and demanded to know why the FBI was still pursuing the Clinton Foundation when the Justice Department considered the case dormant. -Washington Times
The OIG issued a criminal referral for McCabe based on findings that the former Deputy Director "made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor - including under oath - on multiple occasions."
McCabe authorized a self-serving leak to the New York Times claiming that the FBI had not put the brakes on the Clinton Foundation investigation, during a period in which he was coming under fire over a $467,500 campaign donation his wife Jill took from Clinton pal Terry McAuliffe.
“It is bizarre — and that word can’t be used enough — to have the Justice Department call the FBI’s deputy director and try to influence the outcome of an active corruption investigation,” said James Wedick - a former FBI official who conducted corruption investigations at the bureau. “They can have some input, but they shouldn’t be operationally in control like it appears they were from this call.”
Wedick said he's never fielded a call from the Justice Department about any of his cases during his 35 years there - which suggests an attempt at interference by the Obama administration.
As the Washington Times Jeff Mordock points out, Although the inspector general’s report did not identify the caller, former FBI and Justice Department officials said it was Matthew Axelrod, who was the principal associate deputy attorney general — the title the IG report did use.
Mr. McCabe thought the call was out of bounds.
He told the inspector general that during the Aug. 12, 2016, call the principal associate deputy attorney general expressed concerns about FBI agents taking overt steps in the Clinton Foundation investigation during the presidential campaign. -Washington Times
“According to McCabe, he pushed back, asking ‘are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?’” the report reads. “McCabe told us that the conversation was ‘very dramatic’ and he never had a similar confrontation like the PADAG call with a high-level department official in his entire FBI career.”
The Inspector General said in a footnote that the Justice official (identified separately as Matthew Alexrod) agreed to the description of the call, but objected to seeing that "the Bureau was trying to spin this conversation as some evidence of political interference, which was totally unfair."
Axelrod quit the Justice Department on January 30, 2017, the same day his boss, Deputy AG Sally Q. Yates was fired by President Trump for failing to defend his travel ban executive order. He is now an attorney in the D.C. office of British law firm Linklaters LLP.
Axelrod told the New York Times he left the department earlier than planned.
“It was always anticipated that we would stay on for only a short period,” said Alexrod of himself and Yates. “For the first week we managed, but the ban was a surprise. As soon as the travel ban was announced there were people being detained and the department was asked to defend the ban.”
The Washington Times notes that those familiar with DOJ procedures say it is unlikely Axelrod would have made the call to McCabe without Yates' direct approval.
“In my experience these calls are rarely made in a vacuum,” said Bradley Schlozman, who worked as counsel to the PADAG during the Bush administration. “The notion that the principle deputy would have made such a decision and issued a directive without the knowledge and consent of the deputy attorney general is highly unlikely.”
Given that Andrew McCabe may now be in a legal battle with the Trump DOJ, the Obama DOJ and former FBI Director James Comey - who says McCabe never told him about the leaks which resulted in the former Deputy Director's firing, it looks like he's really going to need that new legal defense fund.