(Bloomberg) -- The FBI is barring former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe from releasing interview transcripts and other evidence to disprove an allegation that he misled Justice Department officials about his contacts with a journalist, his lawyer said.
Michael Bromwich told reporters Friday that the evidence undercuts an assertion by his former boss, James Comey, that he didn’t know McCabe helped shape a Wall Street Journal story in October 2016 about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe into the Clinton Foundation.
The Justice Department is deciding whether to prosecute McCabe on criminal charges of lying to investigators. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe in March over the allegations. During a tour promoting his new book, Comey has received attention mostly for portraying President Donald Trump as a liar and immoral, but he’s also disclaimed knowledge of McCabe’s contacts with the media.
“As recently as the middle of this week, we sought permission from the department and the FBI to share our detailed comments which contain transcript references to various interviews -- both Mr. McCabe’s, Mr. Comey’s and others -- and we were denied permission to do that,” Bromwich said.
Bromwich said his team prepared “an 11-page detailed response that goes through every allegation and rebuts it, and we have not been allowed to share that with you.”
Handpicked by Comey
The dispute between McCabe and Comey pits the former deputy director against the ex-boss who handpicked him for the job. That’s given Trump fresh ammunition to criticize Justice Department and FBI leaders and to try to discredit the federal investigation into whether he or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 election. Trump fired Comey last May.
“James Comey just threw Andrew McCabe ‘under the bus,”’ Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “Inspector General’s Report on McCabe is a disaster for both of them! Getting a little (lot) of their own medicine?”
The Justice Department’s inspector general released a report this month finding that McCabe lacked candor on four different occasions regarding interactions with the media, including providing information to a news reporter about the FBI’s investigation into the foundation created by Democrats Bill and Hillary Clinton. The inspector general has made a criminal referral to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which is currently considering whether or not to investigate and prosecute the matter.
Sessions fired McCabe two days before he was set to retire and qualify for his full government pension. McCabe lost his health-care benefits and so far has been unable to collect any of the pension.
Comey said in an interview this week with CNN that he could potentially be a witness against McCabe. “I like him very much as a person but sometimes even good people do things that they shouldn’t do,” Comey said.
Bromwich said transcripts show that Comey didn’t have a clear recollection of the matter, while McCabe did.
“We are not for a moment suggesting that Jim Comey is making things up or lying about Andrew McCabe,” Bromwich said. “But nobody’s memory is perfect. People are fallible.”
“Andy’s reaction is that he’s very upset and disappointed at some of the things that Director Comey has said," Bromwich said. "I don’t know how it’s possible for your memory to get better over time about specific events."
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