ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The investigating committee of the House is set to release the whistleblower complaint that set in motion the firing of the now-retired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe on Wednesday. The release was due to happen at 6 p.m. Eastern. There is much speculation in Washington about whether the leak will come in advance, with the intent to damage McCabe personally as well as damaging the credibility of Republicans’ own congressional inquiry.
As CBS’s Nancy Cordes noted earlier this week, this is not your typical party-line investigation. The committee has been meeting for months and, in typical Republican fashion, has included Democrats in high-profile discussions of specific topics.
Republicans on the committee have also been in rare agreement this week on the need to expose partisan bias among some of McCabe’s colleagues in the FBI.
Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have sent a second letter to McCabe, this time summarizing the highly contested events surrounding his firing.
They seek a criminal referral for his dismissal that would lead to prosecution by the Department of Justice and a civil lawsuit.
McCabe says this show of Republicans’ animus is a violation of constitutional decorum.
The House Oversight Committee, along with its bipartisan counterpart on the Senate Intelligence Committee, released a joint report last week claiming that McCabe had lied to investigators.
Now, Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings have signed on to an open letter seeking a criminal referral, a first step toward McCabe’s potential prosecution, in a congressional hearing Wednesday.
Roughly five hours before that hearing, Issa himself is slated to hold a news conference to offer more details about the testimony he received from current and former FBI employees during that visit to the FBI. That hearing is to focus on corruption, bias and illegal conduct in the FBI, with the implicit aim of firing McCabe.
The letter Issa plans to send to McCabe notes that there is a current criminal investigation underway of McCabe, and to his knowledge, that probe includes the evidence and testimony Issa received during his congressional tour earlier this month.
Rep. Brian Rooney, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s subpanel on government reform, is planning to hold a news conference later Wednesday to explain what he described to me in an interview Tuesday as a “staggering” number of other findings about politically tainted practices.
“All these failures at the FBI, all these things we’re finding, you would think Congress, especially the Oversight Committee, would be able to roll up their sleeves and go hard at them,” Rooney told me Tuesday. “But we’re not. Why? Because, by their own rules, our rules, we need to get a new set of rules from the Justice Department.”
Rep. Rooney claimed that Issa’s hearing, which will be streamed live, could be the most significant public event in congressional politics this year.
“When we find such a high number of these failures, a giant iceberg hiding underneath, we’re going to find some pretty interesting revelations,” Rooney said.
Some investigations have already gone on for months, with some Republicans’ criticisms of the FBI targeting individuals in high positions.
Some critics of the investigation have also argued that, while no one is above the law, that principle should not be extended to highly partisan attacks against individual officials and their families.
The recommendation of Congress, like it or not, will surely influence the behavior of agency leaders, particularly those in higher ranks, given the potential career consequences.