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Justice Dept. could be nearing decision on whether to charge Andrew McCabe

Then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017.
Then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017. (Alex Brandon/AP)
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The legal team for Andrew McCabe met last week with the No. 2 official at the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, a person familiar with the matter said, suggesting that a decision could be close on whether the FBI’s former acting director will face criminal charges on allegations that he lied to investigators.

McCabe’s team met for more than an hourwith U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and, separately, with Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen, the person said. Meetings with such high-level law enforcement officials typically come near the end of criminal investigations, affording defense attorneys a chance to make their last pitch on why their client should not be charged.

Spokesmen for McCabe and the Justice Department declined to comment. The person familiar with the matter spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. The development was first reported Monday by the New York Times.

Federal prosecutors have been weighing for well over a year whether to charge McCabe, after the Justice Department’s inspector general alleged that McCabe had misled investigators several times about a media disclosure regarding the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s family foundation.

Inspector general report faults McCabe for unauthorized disclosure of information, misleading investigators

By the inspector general’s telling, McCabe approved the disclosure and later — when asked about the matter by investigators with the FBI’s inspection division and inspector general’s office — denied having done so. McCabe’s attorney has said previously that his statements “are more properly understood as the result of misunderstanding, miscommunication, and honest failures of recollection based on the swirl of events around him.” Lying to investigators is a federal crime.

McCabe, the FBI’s No. 2 official who was elevated to lead the bureau after President Trump fired James B. Comey as director in May 2017, has become a lightning rod for the political battles surrounding the bureau’s recent work. He authorized the FBI to begin investigating Trump after Comey’s firing, and he became a frequent target of the president’s criticism.

In March 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired Mc­Cabe, citing the inspector general’s findings. But McCabe alleged that the move — which came just hours before he could retire and collect full benefits — was politically motivated. He later wrote a book airing unflattering details of his interactions with Trump and Sessions, and earlier this month, he sued over his removal. CNN, another frequent Trump target, recently announced it had hired McCabe as a contributor.

Andrew McCabe, Trump’s foil at the FBI, is fired hours before he could retire

All the while, the U.S. attorney’s office for the District has continued to examine McCabe, its work evolving from a referral by the Justice Department inspector general’s office into a full-fledged grand jury investigation .

It remains unclear whether McCabe will be charged — although the recent meeting shows that the case is alive. Trump supporters probably would be dismayed to see the Justice Department pass on the case, particularly because there were Trump allies who pleaded guilty to lying as part of then-special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe. Charges against McCabe, on the other hand, could spark allegations from the left that he is being retaliated against for authorizing the investigation into Trump.