ABC News Just Reported That Andrew McCabe Had Authorized a Criminal Probe of Jeff Sessions

Sessions fired McCabe last week.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a press conference regarding new opioid drug policy last month in Washington. Shen Ting/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe last week, supposedly for displaying a lack of candor in dealing with an internal Justice Department probe. But On Wednesday, ABC News reported that a year before McCabe’s firing, he had authorized the launch of a criminal inquiry into whether Sessions himself lacked candor when he testified before Congress during his confirmation hearing.

The investigation reportedly stemmed from Sessions’ testimony that he had not met with Russian officials. The Washington Post revealed last March that he had indeed met with the Russian ambassador in 2016. Sessions recused himself from the Trump-Russia investigation after the Post report came out, a decision that ultimately helped lead to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel. 

According to ABC‘s report:

According to the sources, McCabe authorized the criminal inquiry after a top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., wrote a letter in March 2017 to the FBI urging agents to investigate “all contacts” Sessions may have had with Russians, and “whether any laws were broken in the course of those contacts or in any subsequent discussion of whether they occurred.”

It’s unclear how actively federal authorities pursued the matter in the months before Sessions’ interview with Mueller’s investigators. It’s also unclear whether the special counsel may still be pursuing other matters related to Sessions and statements he has made to Congress—or others—since his confirmation.

It’s not clear whether Sessions was aware of the reported FBI inquiry into his testimony when he fired McCabe last week, hours before McCabe would have retired from the FBI with full benefits. An attorney for Sessions, Chuck Cooper, told ABC that the investigation into the attorney general is over. “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,” he said. Sessions has repeatedly denied misleading senators during his confirmation hearing.

Even before ABC’s report, there were serious questions about whether Sessions should have avoided involvement in the decision to fire McCabe. The former FBI official played significant roles in both the Russia probe and investigations into Hillary Clinton—matters that Sessions had promised to recuse himself from. Moreover, President Donald Trump had spent months publicly pressuring Sessions to remove McCabe.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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