In a letter on Friday, prosecutors told McCabe’s lawyers that they decided “not to pursue criminal charges against your client” after careful consideration.

“Based on the totality of the circumstances and all of the information known to the government at this time, we consider the matter closed,” said the letter, signed by the chief of the US attorney’s office’s public corruption unit.

The decision was revealed at the week of startling tensions between Trump and the Justice Department over the treatment of one of the Republican President’s long-time allies and confidants, Roger Stone. It is likely to further agitate Trump, who has repeatedly and loudly complained that the Justice Department has pursued his former aides and advisers but not prosecuted his perceived political foes.

Attorney General William Barr pushed back at Trump in a television interview on Thursday, saying the President’s tweets about ongoing criminal cases are making his job impossible.”

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Attorney-General William Barr.Credit:AP

The decision to spare McCabe criminal charges eliminates the prospect of a sensational trial that would have refocused public attention on the chaotic months of 2016, when the FBI was entangled in presidential politics through investigations touching both main contenders – Democrat Hillary Clinton and Trump, her Republican opponent.

The investigation by the US attorney’s office in Washington arose from an October 2016 story in The Wall Street Journal that described internal debates roiling the FBI and the Justice Department weeks before the presidential election about how aggressively the Clinton Foundation should be investigated. The article recounted a particularly tense phone call between McCabe and a senior Justice Department official about the investigation.

The inspector general’s report said McCabe repeatedly told internal investigators that he had not authorised anyone at the FBI to speak with the reporter and that he did not know who he did. The report said McCabe ultimately corrected that account and confirmed that he had encouraged the conversation with the reporter to counter a narrative that he thought was false.

McCabe has denied any wrongdoing and has said he was distracted by the tumult surrounding the FBI and the White House during the times he was questioned.

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“During these inquiries, I answered questions truthfully and as accurately as I could amidst the chaos that surrounded me,” McCabe has said in a statement. “And when I thought my answers were misunderstood, I contacted investigators to correct them.”

McCabe has been a target of Trump’s attacks since even before he was elected, after news emerged in the autumn of 2016 that McCabe’s wife had accepted campaign contributions from a political action committee associated with former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe during an unsuccessful run for the state Senate there.

AP

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