A coincidence, I’m sure.
A new report from ABC News suggests that almost a year before his firing, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe quietly oversaw a federal criminal investigation into whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions “lacked candor” in his testimony before Congress about his contacts with Russian officials.
One source told ABC News that Sessions was not aware of the investigation when he decided to fire McCabe last Friday less than 48 hours before McCabe, a former FBI deputy director, was due to retire from government and obtain a full pension, but an attorney representing Sessions declined to confirm that.
Last year, several top Republican and Democratic lawmakers were informed of the probe during a closed-door briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and McCabe, ABC News was told.
It was because of concerns from lawmakers, regarding Sessions’ contact with those Russian officials that he eventually chose to recuse himself from any dealings regarding the Russia probe.
It was Rosenstein who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller, several weeks afterwards.
Sessions has since sat with Mueller’s team and was questioned, presumably, about what he did recall from those meetings with Russian officials.
The probe McCabe began had been shut down.
“The Special Counsel’s office has informed me that after interviewing the attorney general and conducting additional investigation, the attorney general is not under investigation for false statements or perjury in his confirmation hearing testimony and related written submissions to Congress,” attorney Chuck Cooper told ABC News on Wednesday.
It’s hard to say how deep the investigation went. Mueller is keeping his moves pretty close, so if he’s pursuing this further, it’s anybody’s guess.
The genesis of the investigation came after several Democrat lawmakers wrote a letter to the FBI in March 2017, requesting a closer look into Sessions’ involvement with Russia.
Senators Patrick Leahy, and Al Franken urged the FBI to check into those contacts, as well as “whether any laws were broken in the course of those contacts or in any subsequent discussion of whether they occurred.”
It didn’t help that former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos claimed to have pitched a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin to Sessions in March 2016. Sessions claimed he didn’t remember the meeting, but later said that he “remembered” after reading a news report about it.
“We are concerned by Attorney General Sessions’ lack of candor to the Committee and his failure thus far to accept responsibility for testimony that could be construed as perjury,” Leahy and Franken said in their March 2017 letter to then-FBI director James Comey, who was fired by Trump two months later.
It is a federal crime for anyone to knowingly provide false information to Congress – or to a federal law enforcement agency. No charges have been announced against McCabe, and there’s no indication that the FBI has recommended he be charged.
Oh, yeah. McCabe was let go for what amounts to the same thing he was investigating Sessions for.
In October 2016, hoping to push back on a series of news reports questioning whether he might be trying to protect Hillary Clinton, McCabe authorized two FBI officials to speak with a reporter about his efforts to boost the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation. When he was questioned later about that decision, McCabe “lacked candor – including under oath – on multiple occasions,” Sessions said in a statement announcing McCabe’s firing.
“The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability,” Sessions said. “As the [FBI’s ethics office] stated, ‘all FBI employees know that lacking candor under oath results in dismissal and that our integrity is our brand.'”
So much for McCabe’s “political bias.” He was basically making moves that were more detrimental to Hillary Clinton.
But in an interview with ABC News, McCabe insisted politics was “absolutely not” a factor in any of the decisions he made, noting he has considered himself a Republican all his life.
Trump has targeted McCabe in the past, lashing out at him because his wife is a Democrat.