The former deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, is reportedly seeking immunity from prosecution before testifying at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
McCabe is accused of authorizing the leaking of information about the FBI’s probe into the Clinton Foundation to the media. A lawyer for McCabe wrote to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday seeking a guarantee of immunity for McCabe’s testimony before the panel, writing that the former FBI official would plead the Fifth if prompted to testify otherwise, CNN reported.
“Mr. McCabe is willing to testify, but because of the criminal referral, he must be afforded suitable legal protection,” McCabe attorney Michael Bromwich wrote to Grassley, according to CNN.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially fired McCabe in March, two days before his official retirement date, citing a report by the Department of Justice inspector general accusing the deputy director of lying to investigators about leaks to the press in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
One of the key testimonies against McCabe in the inspector general’s report came from Comey. If McCabe can produce evidence exonerating him from charges that he leaked to the press, that would mean Comey was the one “lacking candor.” This could spell trouble for the former director, who was reviled by Democrats after Clinton’s defeat, only to become their hero after getting fired by Trump in May 2017.
The FBI’s conduct in 2016, during both the Clinton email investigation (“Midyear Exam”) and the counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign (“Crossfire Hurricane”), has become a battlefield in US partisan politics. Democrats have painted Comey and McCabe as honorable public servants that were unfairly targeted by the Trump administration in an effort to somehow obstruct the probe into Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia.
President Trump has repeatedly and publicly attacked McCabe over donations to his wife’s unsuccessful state Senate campaign in Virginia in 2015 from a group led by then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), a close Clinton family ally.
The president has called for an investigation into McCabe, whom he blames for bringing the investigation into Clinton to an end.
In April, Bromwich announced that McCabe planned to retaliate by suing Trump for defamation, and was considering other charges.