FBI Agents Complained the Flynn Investigation Was Inappropriately Held Open in a Search for Incriminating Evidence

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn leaves federal courthouse in Washington, Tuesday, July 10, 2018, following a status hearing. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

 

As I noted earlier today, a bombshell story has hit the net from The Federalist concerning recently disclosed discovery provided to the attorneys for General Flynn involving text messages exchanged by agents about the investigation.  Most of the messages appear to be in the time frame of late 2016 and early 2017, during the time several controversial actions were taken in connection with Crossfire Hurricane in general, and Crossfire Razor in particular.

From reading these messages, based on my experience in dealing with FBI Agents over 22 years, and having traded thousands of emails and text messages with them on operational issues, these are most likely messages being exchanged between squad agents who were doing the daily casework on the Flynn investigation. Keep in mind that these messages were produced to Gen. Flynn’s attorney as “Brady” material related to Gen. Flynn. There is no question in my mind that there are likely hundreds or thousands of similar text messages between agents who worked on the parts of the investigation involving Carter Page, George Papadopolous, and Paul Manafort. Such messages are likely to be in existence for periods before November 2016, and after February 2017 — right up through the assignment of the entire matter to the Special Counsel’s Office.

A critical sequence of messages involves exchanges about the fact that the “Crossfire Razor” investigation, which involved General Flynn, was originally set to be closed on November 8, 2016 — the day President Trump won the election.

Exchanges between the agents show that for reasons the Agents disagreed with, a decision was made to send National Security Letters (“NSL”) with regard to Gen. Flynn’s finances.  These are the functional equivalent of “Administrative Subpoenas” which generate only basic account information, but not transactional records.  The information would include opening and closing dates on an account, an account number, how many and what kind of accounts someone might have, etc.  But NSL’s do not result in actual transactional records — deposits and withdrawal, sources of deposits, checks are written, etc.

Messages exchanged by agents (presumably working on Crossfire Razor) lamented the fact that NSL’s for Gen. Flynn’s financial records had been sent. One agent stated the view that the NSLs — which normally have a 30-day response time — were being used to keep the Flynn investigation open while the FBI continued to search for something incriminating on General Flynn after the initial inquiries turned up no “derogatory information” suggesting he was a “witting or unwitting” agent of Russia.

On November 21, 2016, one agent wrote “the decision to nsl finances for Razor bought him time.”  It is uncertain who “him” is a reference to.

On December 5, 2016, there was an exchange of messages between two agents that started with one of them posing the question “what do we expect to get from an nsl?   The exchange was followed shortly thereafter with:

we put out traces, tripwires to community and nothing.

bingo.

so what’s an nsl going to do – no content.

anyways, hope you had a nice thanksgiving.

Hahah this is a nightmare.

Also on December 5, 2016, but in a conversation that seems to be between other agents because it overlaps in time with the conversation above — or it could be one agent involved in simultaneous text exchanges with two other agents –, there is the following exchange of messages, some of which are very significant for reasons I note afterward. I’ve omitted a few of the messages as not meaningful/relevant just so it easier to read:

then there were discussions about whats done/outstanding on razor.

i tell AD waiting on 2 nsl resutsl

[redacted] calls [redacted] and learns they didnt send

f

twas a show

so do we close now without nsls?

do we send nsls now?

ugh tahts fucking stupid

what do we really expect to get?

yep

if we’re concerned about sensitivity/leaks, might not want to send NSLs that we don’t really intend on using.

yeah

if we’re working to close down the cases, I’m not sure what NSL results would do to help.

I mean I can’t get di people but we have some mope in jacksonville, miami, and newark running nsls and fisa 2ndairies

other than “check the box”

yeah

exactly that makes no sense. we’d have to read in more people/field offices.

Note here that one of the participants — it seems like the same one based on the exchange but the identities are masked so it is impossible to know — is circumspect in putting his/her thoughts in writing.   He/she responds various times with “yep” and “yeah” signaling agreement with the other participant but without offering his/her own thoughts.  This is not accidental.  In the Bureau, when an investigation is looking like it might be headed the direction of a possible “bad outcome,” more seasoned agents understand that there is no value in memorializing their thinking in writing.

We now know that the closing documentation on General Flynn was drafted and ready for signature on January 4, 2017, but at that time, FBI leadership purposely kept the investigation open when the telephone call between General Flynn and Russian Ambassador Kislyak become known and was discussed in the FBI and the White House.

But these email exchanges released today show that the agents working on the Crossfire Razor investigation had been intending to shut down the investigation as long as 60 days prior to the drafting of the order to close it down, but the matter was being kept open by FBI management using the excuse of getting NSLs which were not thought by the agents to be useful — and there was no intent to use them because of the fact that the results would not have meaningful information.

These emails further support the argument that the Flynn investigation was corrupted by motives of individuals in FBI management to simply keep digging on General Flynn until they could find something — anything — as leverage to use against him in an effort to force him out of the Trump Administration.