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DOJ Lawyers Handling Trump J6 Case Declined to Prosecute Disgraced FBI Chief Andrew McCabe
J.P. Cooney and Molly Gaston, longtime DOJ creatures now assigned to Special Counsel Jack Smith's team, refused to charge McCabe in 2020.
When Special Counsel Jack Smith entered a D.C. courtroom on Thursday afternoon to witness the arraignment of Donald Trump on four criminal counts related to the former president’s alleged attempt to “overturn” the 2020 election, one longtime Department of Justice official accompanied Smith: Molly Gaston, an assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia now tasked to Smith’s team.
A federal grand jury on August 1 indicted Trump on conspiracy and obstruction charges following a year-long investigation by DOJ into Trump’s post-election efforts to uncover voting fraud and halt the certification of the electoral college results on January 6, 2021. “[For] for more than two months following election day on November 3, 2020, the Defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won. These claims were false, and the Defendant knew that they were false,” Smith wrote in the 45-page indictment.
Gaston, according to reports, was the prosecutor awaiting the grand jury’s decision on Tuesday then filed the indictment with the D.C. District Court late that afternoon.
But just a few years ago, Gaston appeared unconcerned with “lies” told by another top government official. Gaston and fellow prosecutor J.P. Cooney, also currently assigned to Smith’s team, informed Andrew McCabe—the former acting FBI Director who was fired in 2018 for lying to federal investigators—that he would not be charged.
“We write to inform you that, after careful consideration, the Government has decided not to pursue criminal charges against your client, Andrew G. McCabe, arising from the referral by the Office of the Inspector General to our office of conduct described in OIGs April 18, 2018 report, entitled ‘A Report of Allegations Relating to Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe,’” Gaston and Cooney wrote to Michael Bromwich and David Schertler, McCabe’s attorneys, in February 2020. “Based on the totality of the circumstances and all of the information known to the Government at this time, we consider the matter closed.”
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz had concluded McCabe lied to FBI and OIG agents on four occasions—including three times other oath—related to his involvement in authorizing a leak to the Wall Street Journal about an ongoing investigation into the Clinton Foundation “to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership.”
“[The] OIG found that then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lacked candor, including under oath, on multiple occasions in connection with describing his role in connection with a disclosure to the WSJ,” Horowitz wrote. He then forwarded the matter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; the referral ultimately ended up on Cooney’s desk.
Ironically, or not, Cooney and Gaston now have a leading role in prosecuting the former president for “creat[ing] an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erod[ing] public faith in the administration of the election,”—something that DOJ employees including McCabe did successfully by attempting to run Trump out of office based on lies about Trump-Russian election collusion.
Gaston and Cooney appear poised to put the screws to Trump. Late Friday night, Gaston filed a motion with Tanya Chutkan, the Obama-appointed judge assigned to the case, to sign a protective order based over purported fears of the “unwarranted disclosure” of “sensitive” information by Trump in the case.
“All the proposed order seeks to prevent is the improper dissemination or use of discovery materials, including to the public,” Gaston wrote. “Such a restriction is particularly important in this case because the defendant has previously issued public statements on social media regarding witnesses, judges, attorneys, and others associated with legal matters pending against him. And in recent days, regarding this case, the defendant has issued multiple posts—either specifically or by implication—including the following, which the defendant posted just hours ago:”
Gaston threatened to withhold discovery materials from Trump until Chutkan signs the protective order, which essentially reads as a gag order.
In a statement late Friday night, Trump insisted his post was aimed at “RINO, China-loving, dishonest special interest groups and Super PACs.”
Judge Chutkan ordered Trump to respond to Gaston’s motion by Monday at 5:00 p.m; Trump’s lawyers asked for an extension and accused Gaston of ambushing the defense. “Friday evening ultimatums, given by the government before even calling defense counsel, are wholly unproductive and undermine the potential for party-driven resolutions,” John Lauro and Todd Blanche, Trump’s attorneys, wrote in a Saturday morning response.
The next in-person hearing is scheduled for August 28.