The FBI investigated U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for possible perjury last year amid allegations that he misled lawmakers about his contacts with Russians ahead of the 2016 presidential election, according to multiple reports.
The investigation into Sessions started before the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is tasked with probing Russian efforts to meddle in the election and possible ties to President Donald Trump and his campaign officials, Sessions’s lawyer, Chuck Cooper, told The New York Times. The investigation into Sessions has since been closed, Cooper said.
“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,” Cooper told the Times in a statement.
Sessions told lawmakers during his January 2017 confirmation hearing that he had no communications with Russians during Trump’s campaign for the White House, but he faced criticism after it was reported by The Washington Post that Sessions met twice with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Sessions claimed he didn’t remember meeting with Kislyak, according to Bloomberg News. He emphasized in a statement released after the Post’s report that he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign.”
Unidentified sources told multiple media outlets, including the Times, Bloomberg and ABC News, that Sessions was unaware of the investigation when he announced the decision Friday to fire FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
McCabe authorized and oversaw the federal criminal investigation into Sessions, according to ABC News. The news network was the first to report Wednesday on the investigation.
The FBI frequently launches perjury investigations based on congressional referrals, according to the Times, though it’s rare for such investigations to lead to charges.
Mueller’s team interviewed Sessions in January. Cooper told the Times that officials with the special counsel’s office have since told him that the attorney general was considered a witness in the case.