Just an ordinary day in America 2018, in which we learn that the deputy director of the FBI — who was recently fired by the Attorney General for “lack of candor” — had launched a secret FBI probe of the Attorney General for the same offense just last year.
I wonder who could have leaked this. It would have to be someone with high-level FBI knowledge, who suddenly has an axe to grind with Jeff Sessions and the president. Imagine what else such a person might know and might be willing to share in a tell-all book, the royalties from which could fund a lavish retirement just in case his nest egg is momentarily a little short.
Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly accused Sessions of misleading them in congressional testimony and called on federal authorities to investigate, but McCabe’s previously-unreported decision to actually put the attorney general in the crosshairs of an FBI probe was an exceptional move…
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…
Two months ago, Sessions was interviewed by Mueller’s team, and the federal inquiry related to his candor during his confirmation process has since been shuttered, according to a lawyer representing Sessions.
That’s obviously crucially important. Sessions’s shifting stories about how often he met with Russians during the campaign triggered an investigation — but he’s been exonerated. Today’s leak was designed to embarrass him after the cloud of suspicion had already been removed. Revenge!
Even more crucially important: “One source told ABC News that Sessions was not aware of the investigation when he decided to fire McCabe last Friday.” That had better be true. If it isn’t, McCabe’s going to make the case that he was fired not because the Inspector General found he’d lacked candor and the Office of Professional Responsibility had recommended termination but because Sessions wanted revenge on him for launching this secret investigation. That argument would be dubious (at first blush, at least) given all the institutional support Sessions had for his decision but it would feed the Democratic narrative that McCabe’s firing was the product of a grudge. They’re already demanding to know why Sessions didn’t recuse himself from the McCabe decision after he said in testimony last year that he’d step back from anything having to do with the FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundation. McCabe was fired for authorizing disclosures about the FBI investigation of the Foundation. Did Sessions break his promise to recuse because he was wanted to make sure McCabe got the axe?
It makes me laugh to think how Trump is processing this information. On the one hand:
If Trump wants his excuse to fire Sessions now, he has it.
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) March 21, 2018
Right! He could say that the news that Sessions canned a guy who had investigated him instead of recusing himself as he’d promised to do looks shady enough that the public will lose confidence in the DOJ if Sessions continues in office. (Never mind the confidence lost in the department from the 8,000 or so tweets Trump has published attacking the “deep state.” And never mind that Trump’s biggest gripe with Sessions is that he’s normally too willing to recuse himself for ethical reasons.) Even if there’s no impropriety, there’s an appearance of impropriety, and you know what a stickler our president is for propriety. Besides, Sessions has served his purpose. He fired McCabe. Now Trump can get rid of him. Wouldn’t be the first time he’d used a pretext to justify canning a top FBI official whom he dislikes for other, more selfish reasons.
On the other hand, the way Trump processes his relationships makes it hard to imagine him punishing Sessions for firing McCabe. McCabe’s one of his top “deep state” villains, never mind that the thing that landed him in trouble was his apparent willingness to keep investigating the Clintons. Sessions *finally* did something to please Trump by canning McCabe on the eve of his retirement. POTUS celebrated on Twitter! To turn around and liquidate Sessions so soon after he nuked one of Trump’s enemies would be out of character. If anything, you would think he’d be more willing to keep Sessions around now and see which other enemies he might be willing to nuke to get back in the president’s good graces. And what does Trump do if we come to find out that Sessions *did* know about McCabe’s investigation of him before firing him? You tell me. That’d be a doozy.
Exit question: Sessions’s lawyer told ABC that “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.” Since when is Bob Mueller’s office in the habit of announcing who is and isn’t still under investigation in Russiagate? If Sessions could be cleared before the investigation is complete, why can’t any of the other major players?