Turley: Comey May Have Lied To Congress About Not Leaking, McCabe Firing Hurts Case


Jonathan Turley said the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe doesn't help former FBI Director James Comey's claim that he never leaked information to the media. Comey delivered the comment under oath in testimony to Congress. McCabe was fired just before he would be able to retire and collect a pension for 20 years of service. Via Smerconish, CNN Saturday mornings:

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN: Shortly after the announcement President Trump tweeted, Andrew McCabe fired, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI, a great day for democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choir boy. He knew all about the lies. Joining me now is Jonathan Turley. He's a Constitutional Law Professor at George Washington University. Professor, this is one of those issues that evidences our partisan divide. You know on the right today McCabe's firing is being celebrated, on the left it is being condemned. I need you to help me be an honest broker. Was it justified this firing?

JONATHAN TURLEY, LAWYER, LEGAL SCHOLAR, WRITER, AND LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what is justified in the sense that these were career officials at the office on of professional responsibility that made this recommendation which is exceedingly rare. In fact, it is unprecedented for someone in this position. These are not political appointees. The OPR, quite frankly, is not viewed as a particularly aggressive office, so all of that makes this a relatively rare sanction coming from career officers. They clearly concluded that McCabe misled them, and that he misled them on one of the core issues they were investigating, not a collateral issue.

SMERCONISH: I remember from my days of service in the federal government it was on the watch of Bush 41, Papa Bush, the Inspector General's Office was at an arm's length away. In my case, I was an appointee running HUD in five states. And I had nothing to do with the Inspector General on a day to day basis. Frankly, you didn't want anything to do with the Inspector General's Office. I want to clear up any misperception in thinking that Jeff Sessions or the President could exert influence over the IG, because they can't.

TURLEY: Right, and in fact everyone that I know of speaks highly of Horowitz, that is he is viewed as completely apolitical and this office, as you note, is insulated like a Sherman tank from any type of outside forces. What is fascinating about this whole -- the way in has unfolded is not its outcome. I said when we first heard of the report and the recommendation that I thought it was a given in a he would be fired. I would be very surprising for Sessions to turn down this type of rare recommendation from the career staff. After all he followed the recommendation of the career staff to recues himself and I think rightly so.

What is going to create an issue going forward is whether there will be a criminal referral. Michael Flynn was indicted for making a false statement to investigators. Now, it is true that they were looking at him for other crimes as well. But there will be some that will argue why would you indict Michael Flynn but an Deputy FBI Director is just worried about his pension, not prison.

SMERCONISH: So which is the greater infraction? And I think you're getting to this now. If in fact it occurred the way the Inspector General says it took place, which Mr. McCabe I understand disputes, but insofar as he, a, authorized members of the FBI to speak to the "Wall Street Journal," then, b, if he were untruthful about it under oath, for which of those does he face more exposure?

TURLEY: It's the alleged false statement. As you know, there is a great deal of background discussion that occurs with reporters from the FBI and the DOJ. It is always the misrepresentation. Keep in mind with Michael Flynn, his meeting with the Russians wasn't in any way illegal or unprecedented. It was failing to tell them about sanctions being discussed at the meeting that led to his charge. But this could easily spin further out of control. There was one line in McCabe's statement last night that I immediately flagged because he said that he had authority to do this and he conferred with the director.

The director at that time was James Comey. Now the problem there is that James Comey said under oath that he never leaked information and never approved a leak. So if the Inspector General believes this was a leak to the media, it raises serious questions about Comey's previous testimony and could get him into serious trouble.

SMERCONISH: And of course McCabe's response to all of this is that this is an effort to discredit him because of testimony he might be able to provide relative to the President and obstruction of justice.

TURLEY: That's right. And his statement was very, very strong. I mean, he is clearly feeling liberated from his previous role. He's able to speak as much as he would like. He certainly paid for that right with his pension. And that is a very sad thing. I thought this whole thing was sad. This is a man that had a really stellar career in the FBI. And I find all of this, in fact all of these controversies, to be deeply sad. But that doesn't excuse what he did. More importantly, even his statement is going to trigger another round of inquiries as to who actually knew about this and was this a leak to the media. Comey has already been accused, as you know, of leaking information through a friend at Columbia Law School. After he left he removed material from the FBI that the FBI material that the FBI has indicated, I think correctly so, that was FBI material, not subject to being removed from the bureau. Some of that appears to be classified. So Comey, himself, is not out of the woods on this and McCabe's statement doesn't help his position any.

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