National Security Adviser Michael Flynn arrives in the east Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, for a news conference with President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. . (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
As I’ve said earlier, the Department of Justice IG report on the conduct of the FBI during the Hillary Clinton email investigation reveals an organization operating in what can only be described as a totally undisciplined, if not actively lawless, manner. Unauthorized leaks were the rule of the day. Agents made no secret about their political leanings to the extent that the IG, himself, said that he could not guarantee that Peter Strzok’s focus on the Russia probe was not driven by his political bias:
Under these circumstances, we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias.
The most damning thing in the report was the way blatant lying to investigators was treated by the FBI during the Clinton investigation–and to a certain extent by the DOJ IG during this inquiry–and the way Mike Flynn was treated.
We know from numerous reports that the FBI agents interviewing Mike Flynn did not think he was lying and did not recommend filing charges against him:
At the time of their testimony before the Intelligence Committee in the spring of 2017, Comey and McCabe were serving as the No. 1 and No. 2 officials at the FBI, respectively. Comey was later fired by Trump, while McCabe was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year.
“Although Deputy Director McCabe acknowledged that ‘the two people who interviewed [Flynn] didn’t think he was lying, [which] was not [a] great beginning of a false statement case,’ General Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements on December 1, 2017,” a newly unredacted part of the report reads.
In the IG’s report, you find a completely different standard.
In this, the agents are discussing their interview with (according to my analysis) long time Clinton retainer Justin Cooper:
In another exchange on February 4, 2016, Agent 1 and an FBI employee who was not assigned to the Midyear investigation discussed Agent 1’s interview with a witness who assisted the Clintons at their Chappaqua residence. Part of this exchange follows.
FBI Employee: “boom…how did the [witness] go”
Agent 1: “Awesome. Lied his ass off. Went from never inside the scif [sensitive compartmented information facility] at res, to looked in when it was being constructed, to removed the trash twice, to troubleshot the secure fax with HRC a couple times, to everytime there was a secure fax i did it with HRC. Ridic,”
FBI Employee: “would be funny if he was the only guy charged n this deal”
Agent 1: “I know. For 1001. Even if he said the truth and didnt have a clearance when handling the secure fax – aint noone gonna do shit”
We asked Agent 1 about the implication in this message that no one would be charged irrespective of what the team found. Agent 1 stated:
Yeah, I, I don’t think I can say there’s a specific person that I worked with in this case that wouldn’t charge him for that.
This is from agents talking about Clinton’s tortured denial that she knew what the classification marking “(C)” meant in documents.
Witnesses told us, and contemporaneous emails show, that the FBI and Department officials who attended Clinton’s interview found that her claim that she did not understand the significance of the “(C)” marking strained credulity. Agent 1 stated, “I filed that in the bucket of hard to impossible to believe.” Agent 1 further stated that he and the other interviewers asked Clinton about her understanding of the “(C)” markings four or five times, but she did not change her answer. He told us, “I also don’t know at that point in the interview what else we could have done besides all the different ways that we asked it.”
Prosecutor 1 told the OIG that the discussion with Lynch about Secretary Clinton’s interview included whether Clinton was credible when she testified that (C) paragraph markings in an email could mean subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C), rather than that the paragraph contained information classified at the “Confidential” level. Prosecutor 1 stated that he told Lynch that Clinton’s testimony “strained credulity a little bit because, well, if anyone knows Confidential, the State Department is the entity that uses Confidential information a lot.” He said that they discussed with Lynch that their reaction to this explanation was skeptical, but that they also did not know what “people at the very highest levels” understood about classification markings.
Prosecutor 4 said that he recalled Yates also asking whether former Secretary Clinton was truthful in her interview, and that they all responded that she was. He said that this answer caused him some “consternation” but that he did not disagree. Asked to explain this statement, Prosecutor 4 told the OIG that he did not think that former Secretary Clinton lied in a provable way, but that her responses to questions about paragraph markings for information designated as “Confidential” and her statement that the private server was set up for convenience were questionable. Prosecutor 4 stated, “My view was and still remains that the private email server was set up to avoid FOIA…. [I]f you look at Colin Powell’s email, he pretty much was trying to avoid FOIA too.”
And then there is this howler from Mister Ethical Leadership:
We asked Comey to explain why this initial information about the Weiner laptop did not “index” with him given that Abedin was closely connected to Clinton. Comey stated, “I don’t know that I knew that [Weiner] was married to Huma Abedin at the time.” Comey told us that even if he had had known that Abedin was married to Weiner “it wouldn’t have been [at the] top of [my] mind.” Comey also stated that the manner in which he was informed of this information affected his reaction. Comey told us that he was “quite confident” that he was not told this information in a “sit down” briefing in his office. Instead, Comey thought it most likely that McCabe was “passing the office” and said, “hey Boss, I just want you to know that the criminal squad in New York has got Anthony Weiner[‘s] laptop and I think it may have some connect to Midyear.” Comey said he knew that “if it’s important, Andy [McCabe] will make sure that I focus on it.” Comey said that it “could be” that whoever told him about the Weiner laptop “understated the significance of the information.” He said, “The notion that I knew something important was on that laptop and did what—concealed or hid it or something?—is crazy.”
How in the name of Heaven could the IG investigator get past this without a heartbreaking case of laughter-induced incontinence? By the time of this investigation, Weiner and Abedin married in a media event officiated by Bill Clinton, Weiner ran for mayor of New York, Abedin had numerous fawning articles about her indispensability to Hillary Clinton, there was the first sexting scandal, and Weiner resigning from Congress, and the second sexting scandal was front page news. Are we supposed to believe that Comey was not aware of any of that?
Given the standard that was used to charge Flynn, that his answer was “inconsistent” with what someone else thought had happened, how do any of these events not merit an indictment?
I think we all know why Flynn was indicted. First and foremost he was in Trump’s inner circle and an investigatory team composed of Democrat donors and Trump haters from the FBI saw him as low-hanging fruit (can I even use that metaphor during Gay Pride Month?) that would embarrass Trump and give their investigation the appearance of having hit the ground running. He was a warning to everyone else that this was what was going to happen unless the special counsel got what he wanted. Added to that we also know that Andrew McCabe had a personal hard-on for Flynn because Flynn came to the assistance of an agent McCabe was trying to fire.
The best thing President Trump could do right now, particularly in the aftermath of this IG investigation, would be to pardon Flynn not only to right a grave injustice but to put Mueller on notice that his time is up.
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