Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired by Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III less than two days before he became eligible for a federal pension, reportedly oversaw a criminal probe into Sessions himself. The criminal probe into the attorney general, as well as McCabe’s role in this probe, was first reported by ABC News’ Mike Levine.
Sessions claimed that he fired McCabe last week due to the former FBI official’s lack of candor regarding his conduct during an probe into former Democratic president candidate Hillary Clinton — in announcing the firing, Sessions said that “the F.B.I. expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and accountability.” Ironically, the FBI’s criminal probe into Sessions involves allegations that the attorney general was not honest under oath.
During Sessions’ confirmation hearings in early 2017, the future attorney general claimed that he “did not have communications with the Russians.” The Washington Post later reported that this statement was not true — Sessions spoke twice with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and did not disclose these meetings to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducted his confirmation hearing.
McCabe reportedly authorized the criminal probe into Sessions after Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and then-Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) wrote to the FBI asking for an investigation into “whether any laws were broken in the course of” Sessions’ contacts with Kislyak “or in any subsequent discussion of whether they occurred.”
On Sunday, moreover, Reuters reported on an entirely separate false statement Sessions may have made under oath to a congressional committee. During a November 2017 hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Sessions claimed that he “pushed back” against a proposal by Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, after Papadopoulos suggested that the campaign reach out to the Russians. At the time that Papadopoulos offered this proposal, Sessions was a United States Senator and the head of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team.
According to Reuters, however, three people who attended this meeting with Sessions and Papadopoulos “said Sessions had expressed no objections to Papadopoulos’ idea.” A fourth attendee did agree with Sessions’ account of what happened.
Sessions’ personal attorney, Chuck Cooper, claims that the probe McCabe authorized is no longer pursuing a perjury investigation arising out of the attorney general’s confirmation hearing. “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,” Cooper told ABC.
It is unclear whether the Reuters report will trigger a new probe, or whether the fact that Sessions now appears to have a pattern of false statements could cause the previous probe to be reopened.
Sessions previously recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into the Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, citing a regulation requiring his recusal if he has a relationship “arising from service as a principal adviser” to an elected official who is a “subject of the investigation.”