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Sessions fires Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe

Brandon Moseley

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Deputy Director Andrew McCabe addresses the audience during Director Christopher Wray’s formal installation ceremony at FBI Headquarters on September 28, 2017. Wray, a former U.S. attorney and assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, was formally sworn in August 2, 2017 in a private ceremony. (Via FBI)

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe just hours away from McCabe qualifying for his federal pension.

McCabe was set to retire with full benefits from the powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Sunday. McCabe had already stepped down as deputy director under pressure in January and has been on a leave of absence as congresional investigators continue to delve deeper into McCabe’s conduct in several recent high profile investigations.

Sessions said that the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and Office of Inspector General (OIG) had found that McCabe made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and “lacked candor – including under oath – on multiple occasions.”

“Pursuant to Department Order 1202, and based on the report of the Inspector General, the findings of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility, and the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately,” Sessions wrote in a statement.

McCabe’s dismissal was recommended by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility after an investigation by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that McCabe was not cooperative into their investigation.

The OIG is looking at a number of events that McCabe was involved in includes an investigation into a decision he made in 2016 to allow FBI officials to speak with reporters about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

“I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey,” McCabe said in a statement. “This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort … to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally.”

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The OIG’s report has not been made public.

McCabe now admits that he did leak information to a former Wall Street Journal reporter, but he claims that it was an authorized release of information rather than an illegal leak. Investigators claim that they were misled by McCabe.

The investigation is also looking into what, if anything, McCabe may have done in order for his wife’s campaign for state Senate to be funded by longtime Clinton associate turned Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

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U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are urging Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations of FBI misconduct. McCabe presumably would be a central figure in that investigation.

“I would like to suggest to you that you use the word special counsel, yes, because that’s what it is,” Grassley said. “But we are thinking in terms of a special counsel to work with the inspector general. We have all kinds of confidence in the inspector general’s work. We know he’s a good person. We know he is doing good work, digs in deep. He’s got a staff of maybe about 400 but he doesn’t have the capability of working with people that have left the Justice Department. He can only bring in those people that are already in government to investigate. And this special counsel working in a team, and I want to emphasize the word “team”, with the inspector general, will give him the tools he needs to get all the information that we are asking him to get. And we sent him 30 questions that we want investigated.”

“The chairman and I have looked real close at the FBI investigation of the Clinton e-mail scandal and I have come away believing that it was shoddily done; that there were conflicts of interest, that there was political bias that may have resulted in giving Clinton a pass,” Graham charged. “The Steele dossier was paid for by the Democratic Party through Fusion GPS. Mr. Christopher Steele had associates in Russia they could have easily compromised him. And we believe the FISA warrant process was abused.”

McCabe meanwhile claims that he is being targeted because of what he knew about James Comey’s firing.  Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly looking into whether or not Coulee’s firing by President Donald Trump might be obstruction of the investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with agents of the Russian government in the 2016 election.

Graham said that the Senate Intelligence Committee found no evidence of collusion.

Trump praised the decision to fire McCabe on Twitter.

“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 choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!” Trump tweeted.

McCabe fired back.

“For the last year and a half, my family and I have been the targets of an unrelenting assault on our reputation and my service to this country,” McCabe wrote. “Articles too numerous to count have leveled every sort of false, defamatory and degrading allegations against us. The President’s tweets have amplified and exacerbated it all. [Trump] called for my firing. He called for me to be stripped of my pension after more than 20 years of service. And all along we have said nothing, never wanting to distract from the mission of the FBI by addressing the lies told and repeated about us. No more.”

Trump and some Republicans believe that the FBI was used as a political weapon by the Obama Administration.  While the FBI cleared Hillary Clinton of any wrongdoing in the use of her private email server, her decision to allow Russia to buy U.S. uranium reserves, her fundraising for the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments while secretary of state, and her often conflicting testimony under oath; it used the Steele dossier (paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton Campaign) to obtain a secret FISA warrant to listen to communications by the Trump campaign.

Segments of phone conversations by members of the Trump transition team were monitored by the secretive National Security Agency and then released to reporters with the New York Times and other news sources to discredit members of the incoming administration’s team.

Republicans argue that the decision to appoint former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals, perhaps tied to Russian intelligence agencies is based on that flawed Steele dossier that the DNC and the Clinton campaign paid a former British intelligence agent to write and is a political hit piece rather than an accurate intelligence source.

Sessions previously was a U.S. senator from Alabama. He has also served as Alabama Attorney General, Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, and U.S. attorney in Alabama. Sessions was arguably the most popular elected official in the state in decades. Sessions was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump for president.

Original reporting by Reuters, the Hill, and Fox News contributed to this report.

 

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Elections

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tuberville

Brandon Moseley

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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville.

The Alabama Forestry Association announced Wednesday that the group is endorsing Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville in the upcoming general election.

“We are proud to endorse Tommy Tuberville in the United States Senate race,” said AFA Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson. “He is a conservative with an impressive list of accomplishments, and we know that he will continue that record in his role as U.S. Senator. Tommy knows that decisions made in Washington impact families and businesses and will be an effective voice for the people of Alabama.”

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association,” Tuberville said. “The AFA is an excellent organization that stands for pro-business policies. Protecting Alabama industry is a key to our state’s success.”

Tuberville recently won the Republican nomination after a primary season that was extended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuberville is a native of Arkansas and a graduate of Southern Arkansas University. He held a number of assistant coaching positions, including defensive coordinator at Texas A&M and the University of Miami where he won a national championship.

Tuberville has been a head coach at Mississippi, Auburn, Texas Tech and Cincinnati. In his nine years at Auburn University, the team appeared in eight consecutive bowl games. His 2004 team won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl.

Tuberville coached that team to a perfect 13 to 0 season.

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Tuberville has been married to his wife Suzanne since 1991. They have two sons and live in Auburn.

Tuberville is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in the Nov. 3 general election.

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Public asked to help find missing mother of three en route to Alabama

Brandon Moseley

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Marilane Carter is a 36-year-old white female. She was driving a 2011 dark grey GMC Acadia with a Kansas tag: 194LFY.

Marilane Carter, age 36, left Kansas City, Kansas, late Saturday night Aug. 1 heading to Birmingham seeking help for her mental health. She was seeking help possibly at Grandview or UAB.

Her last known phone contact was near Memphis, Tennessee, around Sunday, Aug. 2 at 8 p.m. near I-55.

According to the family, there has been no contact and no vehicle sighting since that time. Her phone is dead and there have been no credit card charges on her account.

“We are concerned for her safety,” the family said in a statement.

Marilane is married to Adam Carter, and together they have three young children.

The family is asking the public to keep an eye out for Marilane, and keep her and her family in your prayers.

Carter is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 130 pounds. She has long brown hair, green eyes and was last seen wearing a green T-shirt and black yoga pants.

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“The biggest thing: pray that God orchestrates this in such a way that brings Marilane to safety — as well as glory to Him,” the family wrote. “We covet your prayers and help to find Marilane. #findmarilane.”

Marilane is a 36-year-old white female. She was driving a 2011 dark grey GMC Acadia with a Kansas tag: 194LFY. She has family in Kansas City, Birmingham and Fairhope. If found or you have any information, call 911 and ask for the police.

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Elections

Jones campaign says Tuberville is not taking the pandemic seriously

Brandon Moseley

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Incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Republican challenger Tommy Tubberville, right.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’ re-election campaign released a statement critical of Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville, suggesting that he is not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously enough.

“The Washington Post reported today that the stock market plummeted after jobless claims climbed last week by 1.4 million and the economy shrank by 9.5 percent — the biggest decline in most of our lifetimes,” the Jones campaign wrote. “While economists are worried about the permanent damage COVID-19 will do to the economy, and public health experts are pleading for people to abide by state and local mask orders, Tommy Tuberville ‘snickers’ in response to questions about flouting public health orders while in DC to raise campaign cash. The people of Alabama need to know that Tuberville is not taking the pandemic seriously, raising serious questions about how he would handle this crisis if elected.”

The Washington Post reported that “Tuberville is fundraising and holding ­in-person meetings in Washington this week, defying orders from D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) that visitors from Alabama and other coronavirus hot spots quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.”

“Tuberville spent at least some of his time at the Trump International Hotel, according to a photo posted to Facebook by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) showing the two men in the hotel lobby on Tuesday night,” the media reports stated. “Neither man was masked.”

Tuberville told AL.com that he has been called “everything in the world” so the last week is nothing new.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday the former Auburn coach broke Washington D.C. policy requiring “non-essential” visitors from states with high coronavirus case counts to self-quarantine for 14 days when he attended fundraising meetings in the city this week. In addition, a photo of Tuberville with Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington showed neither man wearing a face covering.

Tuberville addressed the controversy in comments to the Alabama Republican Executive Committee on Saturday. Tuberville said that he followed all the rules and wore his mask everywhere he went. When he was at events he would take his mask off to dine and people would come over to his table to shake his hand and get their picture taken. The press has seized on those moments to attack him, he claimed.

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The COVID-19 global pandemic has killed 707,158 people worldwide including 160,833 Americans since it first was discovered in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in late 2019. Absent an effective treatment or a vaccine, social distancing and masks are the only tools that we have to slow the spread of the virus.

The Tuberville-Jones race for U.S. Senate is going to have an important role in whether or not Republicans are able to hold on to their narrow Senate majority.

Tuberville is an Arkansas native. He is best known for his tenure as Auburn University’s head football coach, which includes an undefeated and untied team that won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl. He also coached at Texas Tech, Cincinnati and Mississippi.

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The general election is Nov. 3. Tuberville has been endorsed by President Donald Trump.

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Attorneys ask court to intervene over numerous Alabama inmate suicides

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Charles Braggs died by suicide in an Alabama prison after being kept in solitary confinement for more than two years. His suicide and a rash of others in Alabama prisons prompted attorneys for the plaintiffs in a case against the Alabama Department of Corrections to ask the court Wednesday to intervene. 

Braggs, 28, died at St. Clair Correctional Facility on July 17 after having been housed in segregation for 796 days, according to the court filing by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program and attorneys with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz.

“Mr. Braggs was the seventh person — and the sixth Black person — to die by suicide in ADOC custody since this Court issued its Remedial Opinion and Judgment on Immediate Relief for Suicide Prevention (the ‘Suicide Prevention Opinion’) in May 2019, in which the Court found ‘substantial and pervasive deficiencies’ in ADOC’s suicide prevention program,” attorneys wrote to the court. 

Bragg’s suicide was the fifth in Alabama prisons in the last four months, the plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote in the fling, in which they call for “swift implementation and robust monitoring of the Parties’ various remedial agreements” and for the state to address the use of segregation and “segregation-like” cells, which disproportionately hold Black people.

Alabama prisons kept 1,001 people locked alone in segregation on July 28, according to the court filing. 

“Of those 1,001, ADOC’s public database lists 705 people as Black and 273 white—that is, approximately 70 percent of the people in segregation are Black,” the filing states, going on to note that Black people make up approximately 52 percent of Alabama’s inmate population and about 27 percent of the population of the state. 

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson in his May 4, 2019 opinion wrote that ADOC argues the department cannot prevent all suicides in prisons.

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“It is true that, as in the free world, not all suicides can be prevented. But this reality in no way excuses ADOC’s substantial and pervasive suicide-prevention inadequacies. Unless and until ADOC lives up to its Eighth Amendment obligations, avoidable tragedies will continue,” the judge wrote.

That 2019 opinion came after the plaintiffs’ attorneys asked the court for immediate suicide-prevention relief following 15 inmate suicides over 15 months. Thompson agreed in his opinion to make permanent most of the provisions of a previous agreement between the plaintiffs and ADOC.

Thompson’s separate judgment, filed the same day as his opinion, establishes minimum guidelines for how the state assesses and treats incarcerated people who may be at risk of suicide.

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Among the prison suicides noted in the court filing was Marco Tolbert, 32, who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and prescribed anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medication, but on June 20, 2019, three months before his death, his mental health code — used by ADOC to determine care — was reduced, some of his medication was discontinued and he was moved out of Donaldson prison’s residential treatment unit and into the general population and “was not provided any follow-up mental health care,” according to the filing.

He died by suicide on Sept. 26, 2019, according to court records. 

Marquell Underwood, 22, was placed into segregation at Easterling Correctional Facility on Feb. 23 and died by suicide that same day, according to court records. 

“Mr. Underwood previously reported a history of Bipolar Disorder, was referred to mental health nine times in relation to segregation placements, self-referred once to mental health, and was placed on acute suicide watch twice during the six months before his death,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote to the court. “Despite all of this, he was never placed on the mental health caseload, never received a psychiatric evaluation, and never received any mental health treatment.”

Laramie Avery, 32, died by suicide in his segregation cell at Bullock prison on April 14 and was placed in segregation for “disciplinary” reasons after being stabbed at least eight times in the head and chest, according to the filing. 

“Mr. Avery was referred for a mental health evaluation three days before his suicide, but there is no evidence that the evaluation ever occurred. He was not on the mental health caseload,” the court filing states. 

The plaintiffs’ attorneys also note the death of Darnell McMillian on June 22 at Donaldson prison. McMillian died while on suicide watch and after having been placed into a cell with another inmate also on suicide watch. 

“After an altercation between Mr. McMillian and his cellmate, correctional officers allegedly deployed pepper spray, which caused Mr. McMillian to become unconscious and may have led to his death. It is unclear what policies ADOC has instituted, if any, to ensure the safety of those on suicide watch who are double-celled,” attorneys wrote to the court. 

An ADOC worker told APR in July that correctional officers used an excessive amount of pepper spray in the cell where McMillian and another inmate were housed. The cause of his death is pending an autopsy.

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