When Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell finally succeeded in obtaining the “Brady” (exculpatory) material she’d been requesting from the FBI for many months, the question arose: Where was FBI Director Christopher Wray while these documents were being withheld from Flynn’s defense?
Wray had to know this was going on. If we “outsiders” knew, he knew. It’s become obvious that if Trump wanted a real reformer to take the helm at the FBI, he didn’t have one in Wray. How disappointed the President must be. But, as I reported last week, Wray has a history at the FBI that raises both eyebrows –- this isn’t the first time he’s “supervised” FBI personnel, the same group of low-lifes abusing their power. He didn’t do anything about it then, either.
As Trey Gowdy said on Monday to Sean Hannity, “The FBI is not in charge of hiring and firing directors of national intelligence [Flynn’s former job]. The FBI is not in charge –- it’s not their job to see what they can get away with [a reference to James Comey]...You’re supposed to investigate crime, not create crime.”
It was only after Attorney General Bill Barr appointed U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen to review Flynn’s case that those exculpatory documents were finally released to Flynn’s defense. Wray apparently had nothing to do with getting this done, and he’s been there two years. It should have happened when Powell first requested the material, period.
In his latest column, John Solomon reminds us of the time Chris Wray issued a statement rebuking California Rep. Devin Nunes, then-chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for his memo concluding that Wray’s predecessor, James Comey, abused the FISA process to spy on Trump’s campaign. “We have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” Wray said. Two years later, Nunes and his memo were vindicated; what on earth was Wray talking about?
"The problems exposed during the Russia case started with the Comey regime, but have stretched into Wray’s watch,” Solomon observes. FBI officials have declined comment on the Flynn materials but tell Solomon that they’ve referred all FBI employees involved in the “Russia” FISAs for disciplinary action (okay, sure), and that they’ve implemented more than 40 reforms to the FISA process. No word on whether Wray had much to do with that.
Republican legislators have grave reservations about Wray’s ability to reform the FBI. Here’s another excellent write-up by Elizabeth Vaughn at RedState; it includes key quotes from Solomon’s piece and also observes that if Wray remains, the real reformers such as Barr will have to “simply work around him, as they did last week.” Barr has been granted full access to all documents by Trump and can just take what he needs, she says, with Wray being “little more than a placeholder.” (Better than an Eric Holder, I suppose, but Wray needs to go.)
Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mike Johnson of Louisiana sent a letter on Monday to Wray demanding all documents relating to the FBI’s operation against Flynn, and also interviews with Bill Priestap (Peter Strzok’s boss, and the author of those handwritten notes questioning the motive behind the Flynn “ambush” interview) and Joe Pientka (the other Flynn questioner, besides Strzok).
"The American people continue to learn troubling details about the politicization and misconduct at the highest levels of the FBI during the Obama-Biden Administration,” they wrote. “Even more concerning, we continue to learn these new details from litigation and investigations –- NOT FROM YOU. [Emphasis mine; you have to love that they said this.] It is well past time that you show the leadership necessary to bring the FBI past the abuses of the Obama-Biden era.”
"Produce all documents and communications between or among the FBI and other executive branch agencies, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT [again, emphasis mine], for the period December 1, 2016, to January 20, 2017 [Obama’s last day in office], referring or relating to LTG Michael Flynn’s December 30, 2016, conversation with Sergey Kislyak...explain when you personally learned of the FBI’s misconduct with respect to FTG Flynn.”
I’ve linked to the letter, which is quite masterful. The first part lays out all the ways in which the FBI mis-conducted itself, and it’s stunning to see line after line of the malfeasance that by now we know took place. It presents the whole timeline, starting with Flynn’s phone call to Kislyak on December 30, 2016; to the field office’s closing of the Flynn “Russia” case on January 4, 2017, after finding NOTHING and Strzok’s intervention to keep it open; to the big Oval Office meeting on January 5; and on and on with everything the FBI did to coerce Flynn’s guilty plea, finally obtained on December 1, 2017.
The second part is a list of demands, to be provided “as soon as possible but no later than May 18, 2020...We trust you will respond expeditiously and completely.”
Today’s “Wray buffet” would not be complete without the dessert cart, and today’s offering is another sweet column by Margot Cleveland at THE FEDERALIST, about what the newly-released documents say about the Michael Flynn case. In “Your Guide To The Obama Administration’s Hit On Michael Flynn,” not only will she bring you up to speed on the case if you’re not there –- including the new evidence of the “secret side deal” the FBI made with Flynn not to prosecute his son –- but she also introduces a brilliant point. In essence, it’s this:
As Cleveland points out, the Supreme Court has ruled that to be criminal, Flynn’s “lie” had to be material; that is, capable of influencing an investigation. She then asks, “How could Flynn’s statements have influenced the FBI, given that the FBI knew exactly what Flynn said to the Russian ambassador before the agents interviewed him?” Also, as of Thursday, we’ve known that on January 4, 2017, the FBI field office sent documentation to close “Crossfire Razor” with no derogatory evidence found, concluding Flynn “was no longer a viable candidate as part of the larger Crossfire Hurricane umbrella case.” Twenty minutes later, Strzok sent a message to an unknown agent saying not to close out the Flynn investigation yet, as the “7th floor” was involved.
The point: As recently unsealed documents show that the FBI already had all the communications and had decided to close the case anyway, we know the only reason to keep it open was as a pretext to interrogate Flynn. So the interrogation itself was not “material” to the case. They had no legitimate investigative purpose for questioning Flynn, so what he said in answer to their questions was NOT MATERIAL.
Cleveland goes on to describe how the 302 (FBI notes) of the interview with Flynn was re-written by Strzok and Page. Recall that the original 302 has mysteriously gone missing. It’s very important to get that, and also to hear from Joe Pientka, the “other” agent who questioned Flynn. Of course, both the 302 and the in-person Pientka interview are on the list of demands sent by Reps. Jordan and Johnson to Chris Wray, but I’ll bet they end up coming from...well, somebody else besides Wray.