Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe is apparently once again accepting donations.
In a little-noticed report by NPR last Thursday, McCabe’s lawyer Michael Bromwich revealed that his client was heading to the trough of charity for the second time in order to fund myriad legal battles.
According to that report, McCabe’s newly-established legal defense fund would help the embattled ex-official wage legal warfare on various fronts including: (1) responding to congressional investigations; (2) engaging with the U.S. Attorney’s Office; (3) filing a potential wrongful termination lawsuit over his for-cause firing; and (4) a theoretical defamation case against President Donald Trump.
Most of those scenarios tread on fairly familiar territory. McCabe’s original fundraising campaign described its purpose like this:
Unfortunately, the need for a legal defense fund is a growing reality. Media reports indicate that at a minimum, there are a number of congressional inquiries that he will be required to respond to, as well as the broader Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigation that is ongoing, and any potential lawsuits he might consider.
In other words, many of the reasons given for McCabe’s new defense fund have already been fund-raised around. Except for one, at least: the potential wrongful termination lawsuit. The inclusion of a reference to the potential wrongful termination suit is a notable break from McCabe’s past legal fundraising.
The original text accompanying that first fundraising plea–attributed to an unidentified group of individuals who referred to themselves as “Friends of Andrew McCabe”–pointedly said that GoFundMe donations would not be used in connection with any of McCabe’s pension troubles. Again, McCabe’s original fundraising plea notes:
Mr. McCabe and his team are working to gain clarity around the lasting impact his firing – 26 hours before his planned retirement – will have on the pension and healthcare benefits he earned over his two decades of service to the FBI. However, no funds raised for the Andrew McCabe Legal Defense Fund will be used for anything beyond his defense of the allegations against him. He will continue to fight for the pension and benefits he deserves, rather than accept any crowdfunding for that purpose.
The new legal defense fund apparently contains no such caveat.
A tweet sent by McCabe’s spokesperson Melissa Schwartz mid-afternoon Monday revealed that McCabe’s new legal defense fund would take the form of a trust. In her tweet, Schwartz said that the trust would administer those funds “[t]rue to the commitments made at the time of the unanticipated but much appreciated Go Fund Me campaign.” But Bromwich’s statement that the new trust fund would likely be used to finance a wrongful termination lawsuit appears at odds with the original campaign’s commitments.
McCabe previously raised in excess of $500,000 by way of that controversial GoFundMe campaign–which Law&Crime later learned was engineered by a K Street Consulting firm run by Bromwich himself.
The final destination for those funds was never identified–though it appears Schwartz is suggesting the GoFundMe donations will be used as the first tranche of funds allocated to the trust. In any event, the individuals who will be paid from those trust funds remain entirely opaque. Additionally, it is presently unclear whether an additional highly-publicized fundraising pitch will accompany the newly-announced trust fund. Multiple phone calls and voicemails left with The Bromwich Group for understanding on these points were not returned.
When earlier pressed for some clarity on the issue of where and to whom exactly the original GoFundMe monies would be distributed, Schwartz–who is a highly-placed consultant with The Bromwich Group (again, the consulting firm run by McCabe’s lead attorney)–declined to answer.
Law&Crime repeatedly reached out to Schwartz and The Bromwich Group for clarity on these latest developments in the McCabe fundraising saga, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
Bromwich made the announcement last week after meeting with federal prosecutors who are currently considering a criminal referral over McCabe’s alleged “lack of candor” regarding his role in a leak of information related to a Clinton Foundation investigation. In comments to NPR, Bromwich said:
All institutions are fallible. In this case I think they have got it horribly wrong. We really hope that the case is going to be evaluated on the merits, not based on the president’s view.
McCabe was the first acting FBI director in history to be fired based on the recommendations of career (i.e. employees assigned to their positions long before Trump took office) Justice Department investigators.
[image via Federal Bureau of Investigation]