While most of Washington scurried out of town for the holiday weekend, Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) decided to stop by the Fox News studios to appear on Laura Ingraham’s prime time show.
He was joined via satellite by his Republican colleague Jim Jordan (R-OH), both of whom had urgent news to report regarding former Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, the man President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired just hours before the start of his official retirement earlier this month.
When Sessions fired McCabe, he cited findings by the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility that showed McCabe exhibited a “lack of candor” when testifying about an incident involving a 2016 leak of classified information.
The Office of Professional Responsibility’s report is part of a larger investigation by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, who is looking into the FBI’s handling of the entire Hillary Clinton email scandal that erupted during the 2016 presidential campaign, and doing so at the Republican Party’s insistence.
Over two weeks have passed since McCabe was fired, and no one has yet seen the reports by either the Inspector General or the Office of Professional of Responsibility that Sessions said was central to the decision to sack the Assistant Director of the FBI.
No one, except Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan. The two were granted rare access to the part of the report that outlines the reasons for McCabe’s firing earlier in the day Friday, and they wanted to report what they had learned immediately.
“Andrew McCabe lied,” Rep. Jordan told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. “He didn’t lie just once, he lied four times. He lied to James Comey, he lied to the office of professional responsibility, he lied twice under oath to the inspector general.”
“Everybody is saying this is political in nature,” Rep. Meadows added, “but when you read the report you see that it is not political because under oath, and certainly with the investigation, it [McCabe’s ‘lying’] was a real problem.”
Why McCabe, and why now?
Andrew McCabe is a central figure in the Republicans’ manufactured soap opera scripted to paint the FBI as a den of anti-Trump “deep state” rats determined to bring the president down. Not satisfied with his unceremonious sacking, the GOP is now out to completely discredit him as corrupt, biased, and an outright liar.
Doing so, they hope, will not only disqualify him as a potential witness against Donald Trump, but force Attorney General Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to fully investigate the FBI for potential abuses of the FISA warrants used to surveil one-time Trump campaign official Carter Page. That second special counsel, they believe, will give Trump the legal and political ammunition he needs to kill the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation once and for all and save him from any potentially damning indictments that the president or members of his inner circle may face.
At the very least, they hope to damage the credibility of the entire FBI to such a degree that the conclusions of Mueller’s investigation will be cast into doubt by the American public.
McCabe made headlines this week when a GoFundMe account created to help cover his looming legal defense expenses raised double the amount set as the goal. Now, on the eve of Easter and Passover weekend, the GOP apparently wanted the last word this news cycle on McCabe.
The issue Reps. Jordan and Meadows were out to highlight on an otherwise uneventful Friday evening involved a 2016 leak of classified information about the FBI’s then-active investigation into Hillary Clinton – an investigation that ultimately found now criminal wrongdoing.
McCabe has since said under oath and in interviews with the Inspector General that he spoke to the press after the classified information leak to try to put the leak into context. He also said he told his boss, the now fired FBI Director Jim Comey, what he was up to. That remains his story to this day.
Jim Comey, however, couldn’t completely corroborate all of the facts in McCabe’s account, and the story he gave of the handling of the leak differed somewhat from his deputy’s. That technical discrepancy is what Sessions used to fire McCabe. That’s it. And now, it’s what Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows are using to justify labeling McCabe as a four-time liar.
There’s just one problem with this aspect of their smear campaign: McCabe has documentation backing up his version of events. Worse still, Reps. Jordan and Meadows had access to those documents. They may have even read them for themselves. Still, there they were, live on Fox News, trying to make the “liar” label stick.
Andrew McCabe released a statement through his attorney Friday that turns the GOP’s attack on his credibility completely on its head. As the Washington Post reported, “McCabe’s attorney said it was fully appropriate for the bureau’s deputy director to authorize media interaction and asserted that Comey knew about it.”
Emails between McCabe and Comey “clearly show that Mr. McCabe advised Director Comey that he was working with colleagues at the FBI to correct inaccuracies before the stories were published, and that they remained in contact through the weekend while the interactions with the reporter continued,” attorney Michael R. Bromwich’s statement reads.
“We deeply regret being compelled to respond to this selective leaking with any comment at all,” the statement continues, adding that the GOP is “attempting to create a false narrative” that paints a split between Comey and McCabe that doesn’t exist.
Laura Ingraham, not surprisingly, didn’t ask Reps. Meadows or Jordan about McCabe’s lawyer’s retort. It doesn’t fit the counter narrative that Fox News and the GOP have worked so painstakingly to advance over the last few months.
Mueller’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, however, shows no signs of slowing down. As he closes in on the White House, expect more desperate measures divorced from the facts like the one Reps. Jordan and Meadows tried to employ on Fox News late one Friday night.