FBI Director Christopher Wray on Friday ordered an internal investigation of the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The move follows the Justice Department’s decision this month to drop its prosecution of Flynn, who pleaded guilty in late 2017 to lying to the FBI. President Trump alleges the Flynn case was part of a conspiracy by “dirty cops” to “take down” his presidency.
“FBI Director Christopher Wray today ordered the Bureau’s Inspection Division to conduct an after-action review of the Michael Flynn investigation,” the FBI said in a statement first reported by Fox News.
The FBI’s internal-affairs Inspection Division reportedly will handle the review.
Justice Department leaders moved to drop the case against Flynn after they determined FBI agents had no legitimate reason to interview Flynn in late January 2017. During that interview, Flynn allegedly lied about two December 2016 contacts with Russia’s then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn says he did not intentionally lie and was seeking to withdraw his plea.
Before the interview, the FBI nearly closed an investigation into Flynn on Jan. 4, 2017, after finding no evidence that Flynn was a Russian agent, according to newly released documents.
But FBI official Peter Strzok and his mistress, then-FBI attorney Lisa Page, with whom he traded anti-Trump text messages, intervened to keep the case open citing the never-used Logan Act of 1799, which bans ordinary citizens from conducting foreign diplomacy. The law is widely considered unconstitutional.
President Barack Obama learned of Flynn’s calls with Kislyak before then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who ran day-to-day operations at the Justice Department. Yates, who became a Democratic superstar when fired by Trump for refusing to defend a travel ban on a group of predominately Muslim countries, was stunned to learn about the Flynn-Kislyak calls directly from Obama at a Jan, 5, 2017, meeting, rather than from her subordinates, according to recently released documents.
The FBI’s interview of Flynn in late January 2017 occurred outside of standard protocol. Former FBI Director James Comey publicly acknowledged he sent agents including Strzok to interview Flynn days into Trump’s administration without informing the White House counsel’s office. Senior Justice Department leaders also were cut out of the decision, which Yates said frustrated her.
A handwritten note released this month from former FBI counterintelligence director Bill Priestap — following a meeting with Comey and then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — said regarding Flynn: “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
Flynn’s defenders point out that his calls with Kislyak were made with the knowledge of other Trump transition officials, and that the FBI had transcripts.
In pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, Flynn avoided charges for working as an unregistered agent of Turkey and agreed to cooperate with investigators in the Russia probe. A subsequent investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.
Trump fired Flynn less than one month into his administration, initially saying he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Kislyak. Pence recently said he’s inclined to believe Flynn did not intentionally lie.
Democrats allege that the Justice Department wrongfully dropped its prosecution of Flynn in a politically motivated decision. A federal judge still must approve the Justice Department’s request.
Trump said this month that “human scum” atop the FBI persecuted Flynn as part of a broader “hoax” accusing him of colluding with Russia.
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