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Judge tells DOJ to charge McCabe or drop investigation

A judge told federal prosecutors on Monday that they needed to charge former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeThe FBI should turn off the FARA faucet John Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges Carter Page sues over surveillance related to Russia probe MORE or stop investigating whether he lied to authorities.

Judge Reggie B. Walton said at a hearing that if prosecutors don't make a decision by Nov. 15, he would order the Justice Department to release internal FBI documents connected to McCabe's ouster, according to a transcript of the hearing.

"If the government has not made a call I'm going to make a ruling," he said.  "This is just dragging too long. And those who have to make these hard decisions need to do it. And if they don't, I'm going to start ordering the release of information."

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"I will not condone further delay," added Walton, a George W. Bush appointee who once presided over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. 

“You all have got to cut and make your decision. It’s not a hard decision, and I think it needs to be made. If it’s not made, I’m going to start ordering the release of information because I think our society, our public does have a right to know what’s going on," he continued. 

The comments came after Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers spoke to Walton about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for documents on the FBI's probe of McCabe, according to The Washington Post. The government has reportedly said it would not release the documents due to their potential effect on law enforcement actions.

The FOIA suit was brought by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), in July 2018, the newspaper reported. The group filed the request after McCabe was fired in March 2018.

CREW lawyer Anne Weismann said during the hearing that the delays look like a "mad effort to find some way to indict Mr. McCabe to appease the president."

“We’re in dark times where there’s growing evidence that the president aided by the attorney general is using the power of his office to go after perceived political enemies. He’s going after the intelligence community. He’s going after the law enforcement community,” Weismann said.

“I totally appreciate what you just said and share many of the same concerns,” Walton responded.

Weismann told The Hill in a statement on Tuesday that the group is "pleased that the court recognized the critical role the FOIA plays in holding the government accountable and that the courts play in acting as a check on the executive branch."

"We look forward to getting access to documents that will help explain DOJ's decision to terminate Mr. McCabe hours before he was due to retire," she said. 

In a separate suit, McCabe has alleged that he was fired because he wasn't seen as a political ally of President TrumpDonald Trump Pence said he's 'proud' Congress certified Biden's win on Jan. 6 Americans put the most trust in their doctor for COVID-19 information: poll OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Biden administration to evacuate Afghans who helped US l Serious differences remain between US and Iran on nuclear talks l US, Turkish officials meet to discuss security plans for Afghan airport MORE.

Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos Garland strikes down Trump-era asylum decisions MORE fired McCabe just days before he had been set to retire, saying the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of Inspector General found that he had made an unauthorized disclosure to the media. McCabe has denied wrongdoing.

A Justice Department inspector general's report said McCabe "lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions" during interviews with federal investigators. McCabe has denied the report's conclusions.

A U.S. attorney has recommended moving forward with charges against him.

—Updated at 3:46 p.m.