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Two Top Republican Lawmakers Demand FBI Director Wray Review Bureau’s Handling Of Flynn Probe

Two top Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter Monday to FBI director Christopher Wray demanding a review of the bureau’s  handling of its probe into former  national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to a letter obtained by

Ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties asked Wray in the letter why he has failed to disclose what they believe is ‘the FBI’s misconduct’ in Flynn’s case.

In the letter, the lawmakers ask Wray to “explain when you personally first learned of the FBI’s misconduct with respect to LTG Flynn,” and they specifically ask Wray to explain “why the committee and the American public are learning of the FBI’s misconduct with respect to LTG Flynn from court filings rather than from you.”

The context of the lawmakers’ requests for answers to their questions couldn’t be stronger and “reflect a growing distrust within the administration of Wray’s role in keeping information regarding the bureau from the public,” said one U.S. official, who asked that they not be named. “There is enormous frustration that Wray is doing more to protect the bureau than clean house.”

Johnson and Jordan were referring to the recent Brady material disclosure made by the FBI to Flynn’s defense attorney Sidney Powell. The stunning information was reported by this news outlet and the 15 documents, which include texts, handwritten notes and emails revealed that the FBI officials involved in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation had set Flynn up for a fall.

“On April 29,2020, a United States District judge unsealed documents that had been previously withheld from LTG Flynn and his legal team,” the letter states. “These documents reveal that the FBI had apparently sought to set a perjury trap for LTG Flynn during an interview on January 24, 2017, reportedly written by FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Bill Priestap, explained that the FBI’s objective was ‘to get him [Flynn] to lie, so we can prosecute or get him [Flynn] fired.”

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan first unsealed four pages of FBI emails and handwritten last week, and then within 24 hours unsealed 11 more pages of documents and text messages that continued to show a pattern that the bureau was targeting Flynn directly.

In the letter sent Monday to Wray, the Republican congressmen stated their concerns saying, “the FBI’s mission is to do justice dispassionately. But these documents suggest that the FBI ignored protocol to confront LTG Flynn about a potential violation of an obscure and rarely charged offense, with the real goal of forcing LTG Flynn’s resignation or prosecution.”

“The FBI pursued LTG Flynn despite knowing that he was not a Russian agent and even after the FBI  became aware that a central piece of evidence of alleged Russian collusion – the so-called Steele dossier -was based on Russian disinformation,” said Jordan and Johnson. “Placing these events in context rev weals the extent to which the FBI facilitated an incorrect public impression of alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia.”

A slew of news stories after the Jan. 24, 2017 FBI interview at the White House between Flynn and former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, who was fired by the bureau, and FBI Special Agent Joe Pientka, who is still employed by the bureau, not only led to his firing but to a public persecution of the retired general that publicly defamed him.

Further, highly classified information that was purposefully leaked by an official in the Obama administration with access to the call records about Flynn’s conversation with then Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in Dec. 2016, to The Washington Post has yet to be investigated.

The letter to Wray goes on to list critical dates when the “FBI facilitated an incorrect public impression of alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia.”

Some hot points from the lawmakers letter to FBI Director Wray: 
  • Immediately review the actions of the FBI in targeting LTG Flynn 
  • Make former FBI Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap and FBI agent Joe Pientka available for transcribed interviews regarding LTG Flynn. 
  • Ask your staff to contact the Committee as soon as possible. 
  • Produce all documents and communications referring to or related to ‘Crossfire Razor’ the FBI code name for its investigation into LTG Flynn. 
  • Produce all documents and communications between or among the FBI and other executive branch agencies, including but not limited to the Executive Office of the the President, for the period of December 1, 2016 to January 20, 2017, referring or relating to LTG Michael Flynn’s Dec. 30, 2016, conversation with Sergey Kislyak. 
  • Explain whether you or any other member of the FBI’s senior leadership prevented or delayed the disclosure of additional exculpatory information to LTG Flynn and his legal team. 
  • Certify that the FBI has produced all responsive documents as part of the review ordered by Attorney General Barr to LTG Flynn’s case.

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What O’Brien is saying about Russia briefing “conflicts” with what lawmakers were told

O’ Brien said he has seen no intelligence or analysis to support that claim, but a source told CNN that the intelligence assessment is not that cut and dry.

“The intelligence is that there is no preference right now,” the official said. “Not Bernie, not Trump,” a senior national security official said, reacting to O’Brien’s summary of the comments about the Russian election interference threat.

An intelligence official has also told CNN that the initial characterization of the intelligence presented during the briefing was “misleading” — when referring to Trump specifically.

“I’ve also heard that from the briefers that that’s not what they intended the story to be,” another source said.

In an interview with ABC News, O’Brien said he had not seen any intelligence indicating Russia is attempting to assist Trump in the 2020 election. That assertion from O’Brien “conflicts” with what intelligence committee members were told at the briefing, the source said.

“If it’s out there, it’s something I haven’t seen,” O’Brien told ABC’s “This Week” in an interview set to air Sunday.

Sources have told CNN that Shelby Pierson, a top intelligence official, briefed members of that panel earlier this month on such intelligence.

The briefing was fairly comprehensive about Russia’s meddling efforts, sources familiar with the matter have previously told CNN. Pierson also relayed to members twice the intelligence community’s observation that Russia has a preference for Trump, one of the sources said.

During the briefing Pierson faced a series of questions from lawmakers who were trying to pin her down on whether the intelligence showed a Russian preference for Trump, and she finally relented to provide her view of what the intelligence showed, one source familiar with the matter said. It’s the type of situation intelligence briefers are prepped to avoid, the source said, in part so as not to wade into partisan controversy. 

The answer she gave has been misconstrued because it’s missing the context and nuance, the source said.

CNN has also reported that a national security official in the Trump administration told CNN that Pierson may have mischaracterized the intelligence that Russia has developed a preference for Trump. Both Democrats and Republicans were challenging the analysis at the briefing, according to that national security official.

In the interview, O’Brien made a point of noting that he was not at the briefing where Pierson presented the intelligence. Instead of indicating what the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had told him regarding the intelligence, O’Brien said he received his information from the Republican lawmakers at the briefing.

“Well, what I heard from the Republican lawmakers there, and again I wasn’t at the hearing, so I can’t comment what, what happened to the hearing, and I’m not going to play that Washington game, but what I heard from Republican lawmakers is that there was zero intelligence that was proffered to them to support that sort of comment. I haven’t seen any of that intelligence. So if it’s out there, it’s something I haven’t seen,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien repeatedly claimed Russia would prefer someone other than Trump get elected in 2020.

“I don’t think it’s any surprise that Russia or China or Iran would want somebody other than President Trump,” O’Brien said. He later added, “Why would Russia want the president who has rebuilt the American military, who has given the Ukrainians lethal arms, javelin missiles and has sanctioned the Russians far more than any president in recent history, why would they want him reelected? I mean, that just doesn’t make common sense.”

O’Brien repeated multiple times that he has seen no such intelligence or analysis that Russia is attempting to help Trump. However, he did seem to accept that there was intelligence indicating Russia is interfering to help Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders win.

“There are these reports that they want Bernie Sanders to get elected president. That’s no surprise. He honeymooned in Moscow,” O’Brien told ABC.

Sanders confirmed on Friday his campaign had been briefed about a month ago by US officials telling it that Russia was trying to help his campaign. A White House official told CNN on Friday Trump had been briefed on the intelligence regarding Sanders. It remains unclear how Russia is attempting to help Sanders, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the effort.

O’Brien also pushed back on the reports that Trump was angry at former Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire about the briefing given to the House members.

A source familiar with the situation had previously told CNN the President confronted him in an Oval Office meeting a week ago. O’Brien said Maguire’s time as the acting director was set to run out in early March and that is the reason Maguire left.

More departures expected at nation's top intelligence office

He added that US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell was chosen as the new acting director because the administration needed to put forward someone who was already Senate-confirmed. That choice has become very controversial because Grenell has no intelligence experience and is considered a loyalist to the President.

“I was in that meeting and the President was not angry with Joe Maguire. He thinks very highly of, of Admiral, Admiral Maguire and would’ve liked him to stay in government in a different role. But as you know, Admiral Maguire’s time as the acting DNI was up in a week or two. We were looking for someone who was Senate-confirmed under the Vacancy Act. We needed a Senate-confirmed official to come in and replace him,” O’Brien said.