Before Jeff Sessions sacked 21-year FBI veteran Andrew McCabe based on a suspect “lack of candor” charge, Sessions himself was being investigated by the FBI for the lies he told during his confirmation hearing last year and in subsequent congressional interviews. The New York Times writes:
In fact, Mr. Sessions later acknowledged, he had personally met the Russian ambassador to the United States during the campaign and was aware that George Papadopoulos, a campaign adviser, had developed Russian ties, too. F.B.I. agents were aware of both inaccuracies in real time. And last March, when Congress asked the F.B.I. to investigate the attorney general, agents began doing so, two of the people said.
McCabe signed off on that investigation, which was initiated before Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed. Sessions, who was interviewed by Mueller in January, reportedly didn’t know about the FBI inquiry. His lawyer, Chuck Cooper, has said that Sessions is no longer under scrutiny for “false statements or perjury.” However, ABC reports that a lot of details remain murky.
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.
Perjury investigations regarding congressional testimony are apparently not all that uncommon—except when they involve the attorney general himself.
The fact remains that Jeff Sessions—who drew scrutiny himself for having to amend his sworn testimony multiple times—fired someone for not being forthcoming enough in his answers to internal Justice Department investigators. In fact, Sessions, having been caught lying once, continued to lie during subsequent hearings.
Beyond denying that he held a meeting with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign, Sessions advanced more mistruths last fall.
“You don’t believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians?” Mr. Franken asked in October.
“I did not, and I’m not aware of anyone else that did,” Mr. Sessions replied. “And I don’t believe it happened.”
That only compounded Mr. Sessions’s problems because court documents and news reports soon revealed that Mr. Papadopoulos, a young campaign aide, had boasted about his Russian ties in a meeting with Mr. Sessions and Mr. Trump. Mr. Sessions returned to Congress and again denied lying.
Sessions claimed he did not recall the meeting, which Trump had tweeted out, until it was reported in the news.
It remains unclear whether McCabe was afforded similar leeway to repeatedly amend his answers because the Justice Department’s inspector general has not made public the report detailing the investigation into McCabe yet.