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Sacked FBI deputy director misled investigators, watchdog says

President Donald Trump accused Andrew McCabe of lying.

Sacked FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe misled investigators about his role in a news story about Hillary Clinton just days before the 2016 presidential election, a watchdog has found.

President Donald Trump, already furious over a forthcoming book from fired FBI director James Comey, lashed out after the report’s release by saying Mr McCabe had “LIED! LIED! LIED!”

The inspector general report concludes that Mr McCabe allowed FBI officials to speak to a Wall Street Journal reporter for a story about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation, violating agency rules, and then misled FBI officials when questioned about it.

The report also reveals starkly contradictory accounts from Mr McCabe and Mr Comey about how the conversations with the reporter had come to take place.

Mr McCabe, who was fired just two days before his scheduled retirement, denied the report’s allegations in a detailed rebuttal statement. He said that when he believed his answers to the inspector general were misunderstood, he went back and tried to correct them.

Mr McCabe’s statement notes that as deputy director he had full authority to authorise sharing information with the media and says he permitted subordinates to do so in this case to correct a false narrative that he had tried to stymie an FBI probe into the Clinton Foundation.

The conversation “was done to protect the institutional reputation of the FBI as a non-political and professional investigative agency, and therefore was squarely within the public interest exception to the FBI’s prohibition on sharing sensitive material,” the statement said.

Mr McCabe has also said his dismissal was part of the Trump administration’s “ongoing war” on the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and that he was singled out because of the “role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath” of Mr Comey’s firing.

The inspector general report does not square with the Republican narrative of the FBI as a politically biased institution since the October 30 story contained derogatory information about Mrs Clinton and underscored FBI interest in investigating her foundation.

But its conclusion may also be hard for Democrats to embrace given its harshly critical suggestion that Mr McCabe had put his personal reputation above the interests of the FBI.

Regardless, the report immediately provided fodder for Mr Trump’s public attacks on Mr McCabe.

The president has made a concerted and Twitter-driven effort to impugn Mr McCabe as a partisan hack, accusing him of covering up unspecified “lies and corruption” at the FBI and calling his firing a “great day for Democracy”.

On Friday, Mr Trump called the inspector general report a “total disaster” and said “McCabe is controlled by Comey.”

“No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!” Mr Trump tweeted.

A lawyer for Mr McCabe, Michael Bromwich, said he is considering filing a defamation lawsuit against Mr Trump and his “colleagues.” He sarcastically thanked Trump in a Twitter post on Friday for “providing even more material” for the lawsuit he is considering.

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