FBI director orders after-action review of Flynn investigation

FBI Director Christopher Wray has ordered an after-action review of the Michael Flynn investigation. Catherine Herridge published the full FBI statement. It says the review will serve two purposes. First, it will determine “whether any current employees engaged in misconduct” and second it will evaluate whether FBI policies need to be changed going forward.

The FBI review is intended to complement an ongoing DOJ review by U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen:

The Justice Department is already doing its own review of the case, led by Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. The FBI said their effort will “complement” Jensen’s work.

“The after-action review will complement the already substantial assistance the FBI has been providing to U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen in connection with his work on the Flynn case,” the FBI said. “Under Director Wray’s leadership, the FBI has been fully transparent and cooperative with Mr. Jensen, and the FBI’s help has included providing special agents to assist Mr. Jensen in the fact-finding process.”

Jensen is the person who recommended to AG Barr that the case against Flynn be dropped. If the FBI is now coordinating its own review with him (using some of the same agents) it might suggest that he’s seen evidence of some misbehavior that he wants to deal with. As the memo above indicates, the FBI co-investigation would be limited to dealing with current employees since it can’t bring criminal cases against former employees. So we’re not going to see anything happen with Peter Strzok or Andrew McCabe. Still, it would be pretty significant if there was disciplinary action against agents involved in Flynn’s case who are still there.

The one thing none of these stories give a hint about is why now? What exactly was it that prompted Director Wray to launch this review today? Just a couple of weeks ago Politico reported that Republicans were frustrated with Wray’s response to the Flynn case:

“I’m not calling on [Trump] to make a change, but I think the FBI needs to show more energy in terms of solving some of these internal problems,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a brief interview. “They need to up their game.”…

The harshest attacks have come from conservative media figures close to Trump, who accused Wray of covering up evidence that would exonerate Flynn. In recent days, the Justice Department released documents including a handwritten note that Flynn’s allies suggested was proof that the government was trying to trick him into lying. Another showed that the FBI initially intended to drop its investigation into Flynn well before the January 2017 interview…

“I wouldn’t ask for him to go right now,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has feuded with Justice Department leaders in recent years over access to documents. “I want him to take some action. He’s responsible for it. He’s responsible for getting things changed. [But] I don’t want to say he’s responsible for a lot of the stuff that happened before he was there.”

So there was mounting pressure on Wray to “take some action.” This review might be a response to that criticism.

While this review isn’t directly part of the ongoing court battle over the dismissal of Flynn’s case, it does seem as if the FBI is issuing a clear signal that it considers the case over. Notice that third paragraph above: “Director Wray authorized this additional level of review now that the Department of Justice, through Mr. Jensen’s work, has developed sufficient information to determine how to proceed in the Flynn case.” Director Wray is essentially saying, now that we know the Flynn case was a mistake it’s time to find out who made the errors so it doesn’t happen again. Bottom line: Even if Judge Sullivan refuses to take the hint, the FBI is joining the DOJ in treating the Flynn case as a blunder.

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