Constitutional law Professor Jonathan Turley believes Andrew McCabe‘s firing could signal legal trouble ahead for former FBI director James Comey.
Appearing on CNN Saturday morning with host Michael Smerconish, Turley was asked to opine as to whether any potential criminal penalties could result from the McCabe affair and if so, why.
Smerconish’s guest was more than happy to oblige. After briefly discussing McCabe’s potential liability for allegedly misleading investigators, the liberal law professor shifted gears and started discussing how Comey fits into all of the drama and intrigue.
Turley noted, “This could easily spin further out of control. There was one line in the case 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 the time was James Comey.” Turley continued:
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.
Turley is here referring to the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General report. This report–not yet made public–concluded that McCabe had unlawfully authorized an improper media disclosure. McCabe’s statement upon being fired last night reads, in relevant part:
The OIG investigation has focused on information I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor. As Deputy Director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the Director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter.
Turley then addressed McCabe’s statement. He said, “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?”
As the segment winded down, Turley stressed the implications for Comey here, noting, “Comey’s already been accused of leaking information to a friend at Columbia Law School after he left. He removed material from the FBI that the FBI has indicated, I think correctly so, 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.”
Turley is a constitutional law professor at George Washington University Law School.
[image via screengrab/CNN; video courtesy CNN]