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Report says former FBI deputy director misled investigators

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department inspector general delivered to Congress on Friday a highly critical report that accused Andrew G. McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, of repeatedly misleading investigators.

The inspector general said that when investigators asked whether he had instructed aides to provide information in October 2016 to a reporter with The Wall Street Journal, McCabe said he did not authorize the disclosure and did not know who did.

But McCabe did approve the FBI’s contact with the reporter, according to the review.

The newspaper article delved into a dispute between FBI and Justice Department officials over how to proceed in an investigation into the financial dealings of the Clinton family’s foundation. It revealed a sensitive meeting during which Justice Department officials declined to authorize subpoenas or grand jury activity.

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The inspector general also concluded that McCabe’s disclosure of the existence of the ongoing investigation in the manner described in the report violated media policy of the FBI and Justice Department and constituted misconduct.

In a statement, McCabe said he had full authorization to share this information with the media. McCabe also said he did not intentionally mislead investigators.

The report, written by the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, was delivered to Congress on Friday.

McCabe was fired in March after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rejected an appeal that would have let the 21-year FBI veteran retire just hours before he was eligible for a full government pension.

At the time, Sessions said McCabe had repeatedly shown a lack of candor under oath. McCabe, 50, disputed that, saying his firing was meant to undermine the special counsel investigation being led by Robert S. Mueller III, and to discredit him as a witness.

The report’s release, which had been anticipated for months, comes days before the release of a memoir by James Comey, the former FBI director who was fired by President Trump last May.

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The book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” is scheduled to be released Tuesday, but details began to trickle out Thursday night, including pointed criticisms of Trump.

In response, Trump unleashed a torrent of criticism at Comey on Friday morning, calling him an “untruthful slime ball” and saying that the bureau’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server “will go down as one of the worst ‘botch jobs’ of history.”

In a separate development Friday, Trump pardoned
I. Lewis Libby Jr., offering official forgiveness for his convictions on perjury and obstruction of justice charges stemming from the CIA leak case during the administration of President George W. Bush.

“I don’t know Mr. Libby,” Trump said in a statement, “but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”

Libby’s case has long been a cause for conservatives who maintained that he was a victim of a special prosecutor run amok, an argument that may have resonated with the president.

After word of Trump’s plan to issue the pardon emerged Thursday night, critics of the president quickly interpreted the move as a signal by the president that he would protect those who refuse to turn on their bosses, as Libby was presumed not to have betrayed Cheney.