I’ve covered the recent interview of FBI Special Agent William Barnett and the contents of the “302” Memorandum of his interview filed by DOJ with the Court in the Flynn prosecution late on September 24, 2020.
I wrote about my initial take on the contents of the “302” in this story.
I came back to the subject a second time looking at his description of the “Get Trump” attitude of the Special Counsel prosecutors.
My third story involved whether or not what Barnett had to say caused the decision by AG Barr and US Attorney Durham to hold off on unveiling any indictments prior to the election.
I’m back now on a fourth topic that I think he sheds some light on, although in a more tangential way, on the sense of needing to connect a few dots between the information he provides and information we already knew — namely the infamous text message between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page about the existence of an “insurance policy” that was discussed in Andy McCabe’s office, and what that they meant by that reference.
Are you getting the feeling that I think that Barnett interview was consequential?
Here was their exchange, from August 15, 2016:
Strzok: a pretty solid basis for requesting FISA authority on C. Page
Page: need more for PC
Strzok: I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy [McCabe]’s office—that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40….
According to Page from an interview with Rachel Maddow, this was the context for the “insurance policy” reference:
“We’re talking about whether or not we should take certain investigative steps or not based on the likelihood that he’s going to be president or not.” You have to keep in mind… if President Trump doesn’t become president, the national-security risk, if there is somebody in his campaign associated with Russia, plummets. You’re not so worried about what Russia’s doing vis-à-vis a member of his campaign if he’s not president because you’re not going to have access to classified information, you’re not going to have access to sources and methods in our national-security apparatus. So, the ‘insurance policy’ was an anology. It’s like an insurance policy when you’re 40. You don’t expect to die when you’re 40, yet you still have an insurance policy.”
Strzok has a similar explanation — from a Wall Street Journal article back in 2017 before Strzok and Page were publicly discussing matters:
The text came after a meeting involving Ms. Page, Mr. Strzok and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, according to people close to the pair and familiar with their version of events. At the meeting, Ms. Page suggested they could take their time investigating the alleged collusion because Mrs. Clinton was likely to win, the people said.
If they move more deliberately, she argued, they could reduce the risk of burning sensitive sources.
Mr. Strzok felt otherwise, according to these people.
His text was meant to convey his belief that the investigation couldn’t afford to take a more measured approach because Mr. Trump could very well win the election, they said. It would be better to be aggressive and gather evidence quickly, he believed, because some of Mr. Trump’s associates could land administration jobs and it was important to know if they had colluded with Russia.
I suspect neither has offered this particular explanation under oath — or at least they haven’t limited their explanation to this “rationalization”.
I say that because the new information from Special Agent Barnett strongly suggests the “Insurance Policy” was none other than General Michael Flynn himself. You can make their “rationalization” fit into this concept if you just accept that they weren’t going to name General Flynn individually when they offered the rationalization. But when you put the context of events into their words — and Agent Barnett’s recollection about what was done — or more importantly what was not done — there is only one conclusion.
Four “sub-investigations” were opened by the Crossfire Hurricane team under the “umbrella” of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. The sub-investigations of Carter Page, George Papadopolous, and Paul Manafort were opened on August 10, 2016, according to the “Four FISA” report of the Inspector General, at page 59.
The IG report also establishes that the fourth sub-investigation of General Flynn was opened six days after the others — on August 16, 2016, the day after the meeting in Andy McCabe’s office.
Agent Barnett’s 302 says he was the Case Agent for both the Manafort investigation and the Flynn investigation. But then he also says the following:
From September 2016 to November 2016, Barnett advised that very little was being done on the Razor investigation.
As noted in the bolded language above in Lisa Page’s comments to Rachel Maddow, the “insurance policy” was needed in case candidate Trump won the election and some member of his campaign associated with Russia would then have access to classified information. It seems pretty clear that the reference about an “insurance policy” is a reference to having something to do with a person in the campaign who might go into the Administration if Trump won. A decision to open a new investigation was made earlier that day in the meeting with McCabe, the next morning Crossfire Razor was opened with Gen. Flynn as the target.
But, Agent Barnett didn’t think much of the case:
Barrett had to ask [Analyst 1] for files concerning the Razor investigation. Barnett found the Razor investigation to be unclear and disorganized.
Barnett thought the predicate for the Razor investigation was “not great.”
Barnett was not clear on what the persons opening the case wanted “to look for or at.”
The Razor investigation continued to remain in a holding pattern through late 2016, with no one making a specific request for him to close the investigation and no one pushing for further investigative activity to be conducted.
And right there is the lie being told by the partisans who want to say the interview of Gen. Flynn on January 24, 2017, was “material” to an ongoing investigation. There was never an investigation of General Flynn. There was a file opened. But nothing was ever done according to Agent Barnett. And nothing would have ever been done if Donald Trump had not won the election — according to Page and Strzok.
The opening of an investigation of General Flynn — “Crossfire Razor” — was the “insurance policy” in the event Donald Trump was elected. Page, Papadolopous, and Manafort were not going to be in the Trump Administration — all had left the campaign by the fall of 2016, so they would not have access to classified information or otherwise be helpful to the Russians. But Comey, McCabe, Strzok, and Page knew Flynn would be in the Administration. Having Crossfire Razor open BEFORE the election meant the FBI could continue investigating the Trump Administration after candidate Trump became President-Elect Trump, and then after the inauguration as well, without having to say they only opened the investigation after Trump’s victory.
Agent Barnett said there wasn’t much “predicate” to support the investigation of General Flynn, yet on August 15, 2016, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok have already concluded that General Flynn has connections to Russia and Putin that meant he should not have access to classified information.
It is a violation of FBI policy to open a counterintelligence case file on a US Person with no present intention to conduct a counterintelligence investigation of the US Person. It might even be a crime.
And yet that is exactly what Special Agent Barnett says FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Peter Strzok did with regard to General Michael Flynn, decorated U.S. war hero.
He opened a counterintelligence case file on General Flynn, then put it in his “back pocket” just in case it turned out that he needed to have such a file open later on — depending on who won the election.
That’s a problem.
Strzok knows it.
So does his lawyer.
Andy McCabe told him to do it.
Andy McCabe is an idiot.
Peter Strzok is a fool for following that direction.
Proving once again something that I have said here a few times — and my friends connected to the FBI are unhappy about having to grudgingly admit — moving up through the ranks of FBI management too often has nothing to do with whether the people being promoted know what they are doing.
“All Volunteer” management results in too many idiots volunteering to be promoted.