As deputy director of the FBI last year, Andrew McCabe opened a criminal investigation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to a new report.
The investigation was sparked by a request from two Democratic senators who asserted that Sessions gave false testimony during his Senate confirmation hearing in January 2017 about contacts he had with Russia’s ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Sessions was cleared of any wrongdoing last year, after meeting with the special counsel’s office as part of the Russia investigation, according to ABC News.
“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,” Chuck Cooper, an attorney for Sessions, told ABC News.
Sources told ABC News that Sessions was unaware of the investigation when he fired McCabe last Friday. The former FBI No. 2 was terminated just two days before his retirement for “lack of candor” during interviews with investigators from the Department of Justice’s office of the inspector general.
The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended to Sessions that McCabe be fired for misleading investigators about his role in authorizing media leaks prior to the 2016 election. McCabe gave the green light to an FBI attorney to speak to a Wall Street Journal reporter in October 2016 about the investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Clinton Foundation.
McCabe denied misleading investigators in a scathing letter released after he was canned.
McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein informed Republican and Democratic lawmakers of the investigation into Sessions last year, according to ABC News.
McCabe opened the inquiry in March 2017 after Democratic Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy and then-Minnesota Sen. Al Franken wrote a letter asking the bureau to investigate whether Sessions was truthful in his confirmation hearing about contacts he had with Kislyak.
The referral stemmed from Sessions’ testimony during his January 2017 confirmation hearing that he did not have contact with Russian government officials during the campaign. It later emerged that Sessions met Kislyak several times during the campaign. But Sessions denied that his testimony was misleading, arguing that his only in-depth meeting with Kislyak was in his capacity as a senator rather than his role on the Trump campaign. Sessions had a brief encounter with Kislyak months earlier at a Trump campaign event in Washington, D.C.