(Correction: our editor wishes to apologize for pulling a "Joe Biden" with Agent BARNETT's name in this piece when it ran originally, adding that 3AM might have been the time for performance-enhancing drugs. Also, Amy Coney Barrett had been in the news all day. We promise never to refer to her as Amy Comey Barrett. Please enjoy the corrected version in its entirety.)
I don’t know if Maria Bartiromo had something in her eye during this weekend's edition of SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES, but it sure looked like a small tear running down her cheek as she reported that, according to her sources, John Durham’s report on the “Trump/Russia” investigation would not be out until after the election.
Durham’s office reportedly had concerns that delivering his conclusions this close to the election would be considered too politicizing, but I strongly disagree. I’m with Sen. Ron Johnson, who appeared on her show later in the hour. We’ve long been saying that it’s the withholding of information until after the election that should be seen as politicizing, not the releasing, as voters deserve all the information they can get before casting their ballots. Sen. Johnson said essentially the same thing on Sunday.
One of Bartiromo’s guests, Sen. Lindsay Graham, did have encouraging news: the Senate Judiciary Committee intends to call William Barnett, the FBI agent who opened the Michael Flynn case –- after being personally selected by Joe Pientka, who supervised “Crossfire Hurricane” –- and learned over time that it was all about “getting Trump.” Sean Davis and Mollie Hemingway have a new report on the interview with Barnett conducted just under two weeks ago by U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen, who was appointed by Attorney General Bill Barr to review the special counsel’s handling of the Michael Flynn case.
One thing that stood out to me in reading this was that Barnett said special counsel agents would actually joke about it being a game of “Collusion ‘CLUE.’” In this game, he said, investigators choose any character, in any location, conducting any activity, and pair this person with another character and interpret it as evidence of collusion. Hilarious.
Barnett is essentially a whistleblower now –- not the kind Democrats like –- and the transcript of his interview with Jensen, or at least the summary, was obtained by Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell and filed with Judge Emmet Sullivan. (If Durham isn’t going to release any report before the election, we’re dependent on this sort of process to get the facts out.)
Barnett said in his interview that there was never any basis for the Trump/Russia “collusion” theory. He told DOJ investigators that “the handling of the probes [Flynn and Paul Manafort] troubled him so much that he threatened to quit working on it in one case, and threatened to go to the Inspector General in another."
In 2016, when Barnett was first assigned to the case, he thought that reading through the evidence would give him a better understanding of why the investigation into Trump’s “collusion” with Russia was launched. But after about six weeks, he still couldn’t figure it out. He characterized their theory as “groping.”
Barnett is the agent who moved to close the Flynn case due to lack of evidence. He’s the one who was told by Peter Strzok that the “7th Floor” wanted to keep it open and that Flynn should be investigated for a Logan Act violation. (Recall that then-Vice President Joe Biden was present at the January 5 Oval Office meeting during which this was discussed and, according to Sally Yates, was the one to bring up the Logan Act.) Barnett was not familiar with the Logan Act –- who was? –- but after researching it, knew that it didn’t apply to Flynn, who was not a private citizen but the incoming national security adviser.
Read the Davis/Hemingway piece for details of how Barnett was cut out of Strzok and Pientka’s “ambush” interview with Flynn. Apparently, Barnett was left out of other meetings as well, as the Flynn probe was directed “from the top down,” meaning all the direction was coming from senior officials. (My speculation is that by then, they would've liked to have him off the case but were worried about what he might say publicly.)
By February, 2017, Barnett had had his fill and asked to be removed from the case. In his interview, he said that the Flynn investigation “was problematic and could result in an IG investigation.” (He didn’t need a crystal ball for that one!)
Ironically, it was the supervision by top officials that had made him think it must be legal, as uncomfortable as it made him. Barnett added that one analyst who was “very skeptical of the Flynn collusion investigation” ---name not provided, but it wasn’t Barnett --- was indeed removed from the Flynn investigation. (Surely Jensen has interviewed that person.)
When the Flynn investigation was made part of Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe in May, 2017, Barnett told team member Jeannie Rhee that there was “no evidence of a crime” committed by Flynn. She dismissed his concerns. He said he didn’t want to be involved in the special counsel, but Peter Strzok urged him to move over there. Davis and Hemingway report that Barnett “decided to work at the special counsel office in the hope his perspective would keep them from ‘group think.’”
Once Barnett was working with the special counsel, he could see the “group think” in action --- what he characterized as “GET TRUMP.” The investigation was run in the opposite way of how an FBI investigation would be. He said, “There was always someone at SCO (special counsel’s office) who claimed to have a lead on information that would prove the collusion, only to have the information be a dead end.” It happened over and over.
Incidentally, Barnett never wiped his phone, though he testified that other members of the special counsel would joke about wiping theirs.
The notes from Barnett’s interview ended with this: “Barnett believed the prosecution of Flynn by SCO was used as a means to “get TRUMP.”
It seems there might be much more behind Durham’s delay than we even imagined. RedState.com has some interesting observations on that.
This report came in after Maria Bartiromo’s show, and I hope she’s had a chance to read it. This writer doesn’t think that Jensen and Barr were prepared for what has been revealed by Barnett about the political calculations involved in the Russia Hoax investigation. There is speculation that Barr is extremely upset that Mueller, now aging and perhaps fading a bit mentally, was being used as cover by Andrew Weissmann and others to overstep wildly in their desire to “get Trump.”
Something had to trigger Barr’s decision to have Barnett interviewed by Jensen. It’s possible that this has to do with Judge Emmet Sullivan’s (mis)handling of the Michael Flynn case, as it shows the case to be even more obviously politically motivated than we knew. The message to Sullivan: “Sure, you idiot, go ahead and keep this case open. The longer you keep it open, the more we’ll reveal.”
And apparently there is more. What we’ve seen has to do with “Crossfire Razor,” the investigation into Flynn. The rest is known only to investigators. It seems that the information that Jensen got from Agent Barnett may indeed be a game-changer. Even so, it’s wrong to keep it under wraps, for whatever reason, until after the election. Two words: interim report.