We have another addition to the exodus of senior staff from the FBI and from Justice. Today it was announced (this is Friday, so, of course) that the FBI assistant director for public affairs, Michael Kortan, was retiring after 33 years service.
The longtime head of public affairs at the FBI — who was a confidant of former director James Comey — is planning to retire, Fox News has learned.
Kortan also was front and center during the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and especially in July 2016 — coordinating media coverage and handing out copies of Comey’s public statement recommending against criminal charges in the investigation into mishandling of classified information. Kortan more recently surfaced in text messages released between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
While those texts have drawn attention for their anti-Trump sentiments, Kortan also seemed to surface in a message warning about the contents of 302s, which were FBI interview summaries from the Clinton email case, that weren’t given to Congress up-front. In the September 2016 text, Strzok wrote that “there are VERY inflammatory things in the 302s we didn’t turn over to [Congress]…that are going to come out in FOIA and absolutely inflames Congress. I’m sure Jim and Trisha and Dave and Mike are all considering how things like that play out as they talk amongst themselves.”
“Mike” would appear to be a reference to Kortan.
Two things to keep in mind. First, he’s a Comey loyalist so Wray probably nudged him out because he needs his own team. Second, the FBI was ground zero of the anti-Trump leaks that drove the collusion story. Kortan ran the FBI’s press operation. It is hard to not suspect that he had some complicity in that.
He is the second big name to fall this week. Yesterday, the head of Justice’s counterintelligence operation announced his resignation.
This may be planned. But when you consider the list of senior FBI people who’ve left in the past couple of weeks you can’t get rid of the feeling that it is a massive purge of the FBI–despite the fact that we all know Wray would rather be fired than to do that–executive staff and to do that, Wray has to have some sort of clout because all of these people are civil service.