EXCLUSIVE: Congressional investigators tell Fox News that Tuesday’s seven-hour interrogation of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe contained numerous conflicts with the testimony of previous witnesses, prompting the Republican majority staff of the House Intelligence Committee to decide to issue fresh subpoenas next week on Justice Department and FBI personnel.
While HPSCI staff would not confirm who will be summoned for testimony, all indications point to demoted DOJ official Bruce G. Ohr and FBI General Counsel James A. Baker, who accompanied McCabe, along with other lawyers, to Tuesday’s HPSCI session.
The issuance of a subpoena against the Justice Department’s top lawyer could provoke a new constitutional clash between the two branches, even worse than the months-long tug of war over documents and witnesses that has already led House Speaker Paul Ryan to accuse DOJ and FBI of “stonewalling” and HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., to threaten contempt-of-Congress citations against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
“It’s hard to know who’s telling us the truth,” said one House investigator after McCabe’s questioning.
Fox News is told that several lawmakers participated in the questioning of McCabe, led chiefly by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.
Sources close to the investigation say that McCabe was a “friendly witness” to the Democrats in the room, who are said to have pressed the deputy director, without success, to help them build a case against President Trump for obstruction of justice in the Russia-collusion probe. “If he could have, he would have,” said one participant in the questioning.
Investigators say McCabe recounted to the panel how hard the FBI had worked to verify the contents of the anti-Trump “dossier” and stood by its credibility. But when pressed to identify what in the salacious document the bureau had actually corroborated, the sources said, McCabe cited only the fact that Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had traveled to Moscow. Beyond that, investigators said, McCabe could not even say that the bureau had verified the dossier’s allegations about the specific meetings Page supposedly held in Moscow.
The sources said that when asked when he learned that the dossier had been funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, McCabe claimed he could not recall – despite the reported existence of documents with McCabe’s own signature on them establishing his knowledge of the dossier’s financing and provenance.
The decision by HPSCI staff to subpoena Ohr comes as he is set to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Until earlier this month, when Fox News began investigating him, Ohr held two titles at DOJ: associate deputy attorney general, a post that placed him four doors down from his boss, Rosenstein; and director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), a program described by the department as “the centerpiece of the attorney general’s drug strategy.”
Ohr will retain his OCDETF title but was stripped of his higher post and ousted from his office on the fourth floor of “Main Justice.” Department officials confirmed that Ohr had withheld from superiors his secret meetings in 2016 with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the dossier with input from Russian sources; and with Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Steele with funds supplied by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Subsequently, Fox News disclosed that Ohr’s wife Nellie, an academic expert on Russia, had worked for Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.
Former FBI Director James Comey, testifying before the House in March, described the dossier as a compendium of “salacious and unverified” allegations against then-candidate Donald Trump and his associates. The Nunes panel has spent much of this year investigating whether DOJ, under then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, used the dossier to justify a foreign surveillance warrant against Page, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.
DOJ and FBI say they have cooperated extensively with Nunes and his team, including the provision of several hundred pages of classified documents relating to the dossier. The DOJ has also made McCabe available to the House Judiciary Committee for a closed-door interview on Thursday.
The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment for this report.