In coverage of the Andrew McCabe investigation, there seems to be a lot of adding two plus two and coming up with five.
The New York Times and Washington Post have reported that a grand jury met on Thursday in connection with a probe involving McCabe, the FBI’s former deputy director. As I write this column on Friday evening, no indictment has been returned against McCabe. From this, and what seems to be some hopeful speculation about “hints of the case’s weakness” that could possibly have caused grand jurors to “balk,” the Times and the Post suggest that maybe the grand jury has voted against an indictment.
This supposition has prompted a letter to the Justice Department from McCabe’s attorney, Michael Bromwich — a former colleague of mine who, besides being a skilled and shrewd attorney, is a Democrat and was last seen representing Christine Blasey Ford, Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser. Bromwich says he is hearing “rumors from reporters” about the filing of a “no true bill” — i.e., a grand-jury vote rejecting a proposed indictment of McCabe.
While conceding that he “do[es] not know the specific basis for the rumors,” Bromwich intuits that they must be reliable because the newspapers ran with the story. Mind you, neither the Times nor the Post claims to have been told by any grand jurors that they declined to indict McCabe; nor do they report hearing from any knowledgeable government official that a no true bill was voted. Nevertheless, McCabe’s legal team is demanding that the Justice Department disclose whether an indictment was declined and refrain from seeking an indictment in the future.
This gambit, of course, floats the narrative that the case against McCabe must be crumbling — the media reports spur the Bromwich letter, which spur more media reports, rinse and repeat. But even allowing for the erosion of standards, this is thin gruel for both news reporting and legal claims.