10 Disturbing Revelations from FBI Special Agent William Barnett on the FBI’s Michael Flynn Probe

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The Justice Department on Thursday released a summary of its interview of a former FBI special agent who revealed damaging information on the initial FBI counterintelligence and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations into Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Flynn.

The summary, known as a “302,” reveals that the special agent, William Barnett, listed a number of disturbing things that he found while working on both investigations. Here are the top 10:

  1. Barnett believed the predication for the overarching Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the Trump campaign and the Crossfire Razor investigation into Flynn were both unclear and unconvincing.
    • Barnett said after he was brought on to Crossfire Razor, he was briefed on the overarching investigation, Crossfire Hurricane. According to the 302, Barnett thought the investigation was “‘opaque’ with very little detail concerning specific evidence of criminal events.” He thought the case theory was “supposition on supposition.”
    • Additionally, Barnett thought the predication for Crossfire Razor was “not great.” He said one fact used for predication was a speech Flynn gave in Russia several years prior, and that he believed the speech may have been ill-advised but not illegal. He said it was not clear what the persons opening the case wanted to “look for or at.”
    • Even after six weeks of being involved in the Crossfire Razor investigation, he was still unsure of the basis of the investigation concerning Russia and the Trump campaign working together, without a specific criminal allegation. He called at least one theory “groping.”
  2. Barnett was in the process of closing the Flynn investigation on January 4, 2017, when Peter Strzok intervened on or around the date of an Oval Office meeting where the Flynn investigation was discussed.
    • On election day, November 8, 2016, Barnett said he and another analyst had a “very frank discussion” on closing the Flynn investigation. The analyst believed it was an “exercise in futility.” Barnett said he did not understand the point of the investigation. However, only Strzok was in position to close it.
    • Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve in 2016, a supervisory special agent called Barnett and said Strzok told them to close the Flynn investigation. Barnett then started working on a document to close it on January 3 and 4, 2017. However, on January 4, 2017, he then got a message from a special agent telling them that he not close the investigation, as Strzok had information to add.
      • January 4, 2017, was the same date of Strzok’s notes from a White House Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama, where Vice President Joe Biden suggested that Flynn might have violated the obscure Logan Act by speaking with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
    • Barnett said after reading the new information — possibly a transcript of Flynn’s call with Kislyak — a couple of times, he did not see what the significant issue or “rub” was and that it did not change his view that Flynn was not compromised by the Russians. Barnett also said he did not see a potential Logan Act violation as a “major issue” concerning the Flynn investigation or a “serious stand-alone charge.”
  3. Barnett believed he was “cut out” of an FBI interview with Flynn on January 24, 2017.
    • Barnett said he was not part of any further discussions on the Flynn investigation until January 25, 2017 — the day after FBI agents Strzok and Pientka interviewed Flynn at the White House. Barnett was not consulted or asked to participate. He was told it was a “last minute” decision. The 302 said: “In hindsight, BARNETT believed he was was ‘cut out’ of the interview.”
  4. Barnett says after the Flynn interview, the investigation became “top down,” directed by Andrew McCabe.
    • After Flynn’s interview, there was a “reorganization” of the investigation, with Strzok supervising it, along with someone else from the FBI headquarters. Barnett said that the Justice Department and the FBI HQs were having meetings on the investigation that he was not invited to attend. He said the investigation was “top down” — meaning direction on the investigation was coming from senior officials.
    • He said that the FBI was reacting to news articles, most notably one that featured a leak that Flynn had talked to Kislyak, and that after that article, the “investigative tempo increased” as well as the issuance of national security letters, which are similar to subpoenas. Barnett said he believed that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was directing the investigation.
  5. Barnett said he requested to be removed from the Flynn investigation because he believed it was problematic.
    • Barnett had requested to be removed from the Flynn investigation in or about early February 2017, citing the DOJ Inspector General looking at the FBI’s handling of the investigation into the Hillary Clinton email server case and believing that the Flynn investigation could also result in an IG investigation.
      • By then, he still did not see any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, or that the Flynn investigation was leading or headed toward prosecution.
  6. The same FBI lawyer who falsified evidence on a surveillance warrant application on Carter Page also signed off on predication for national security letters on the Flynn investigation.
    • Barnett said he sent his national security letters for the Flynn investigation for FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith to review and approve. Clinesmith is the same lawyer who doctored an email to say that former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was “not” a source for the CIA, when the original email said that Page in fact had been a source. (The information could have made it more difficult for the FBI to obtain another surveillance warrant on Page). Clinesmith recently plead guilty to one count of making a false statement.
    • When Barnett was asked specific questions concerning the predication for investigation information provided in the request for a national security letter, Barnett said he sent an email to Clinesmith asking whether the predication was acceptable. Clinesmith said that it was and could be used for additional national security letters.
    • Barnett said that the information received through the national security letters did not change his mind that Flynn was not working with the Russian government.
  7. Barnett thought Clinton campaign-donor and Special Counsel Office (SCO) attorney Jeannie Rhee was “obsessed” with Flynn and Russia, and that she had an “agenda.” 
    • Barnett was told to brief on the Flynn investigation to a group including Rhee. He said he went over the investigation, including the assessment that there was no evidence of a crime. Barnett said when he tried to move on to what he thought was a more significant investigation, Rhee stopped him and asked more questions about Flynn. Barnett said he thought she was “obsessed with” Flynn and Russia and she had an agenda.
    • Barnett talked about Rhee to an SCO attorney and said he wanted nothing to do with the Flynn investigation. Strzok then contacted him and said he really wanted Barnett to work with the SCO. Barnett said he told Strzook that he “did not wish to pursue the collusion investigation, as it was ‘not there.’” After getting assurances that he would not work with Rhee, Barnett agreed to work at the SCO, hoping his perspective would keep them from “group think.”
  8. The appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller “changed everything.”
    • Barnett said Crossfire Hurricane seemed to be winding down, but President Trump firing Comey and the appointment of Mueller “triggered a significant amount of activity” and “changed everything.” He said “search warrants were being drafted and executed on a regular basis” and SCO attorneys “were very aggressive and were directing things.”
  9. Barnett thought there was a “get TRUMP” attitude by some at the Special Counsel Office.

    • Barnett said incidents involving Trump were interpreted in the most negative manner or in some cases — misinterpreted, and some statements were discounted because they did not already fit the opinions of some at the SCO.
      • One example was Trump said that investigators needed to “get to the bottom” of a matter, and one SCO attorney said Trump wanted to “cover it up.”
      • Another example was Trump firing Comey being interpreted as obstruction, when it could have been interpreted as Trump not liking Comey and wanting him replaced.
      • Barnett said some individuals in the SCO “assumed” Flynn was lying to cover up collusion between Trump and Russia, when Barnett said he believed Flynn lied in an interview to save his job.
    • Barnett also said Mueller’s “all stars” had a conviction that there was “something criminal there” and there was a competition as to which attorney was going to find it.
    • He said there was a lack of letting the evidence lead the investigation and more of an attitude of “the evidence is there we just have to find it.”
    • Barnett said SCO attorneys asked witnesses generic questions and did not seem interested in following up to clarify, and when he did so, he was scolded by another attorney for wasting time.
  10. SCO agents joked about wiping their cell phones — which actually happened to at least several dozen phones, purportedly by accident. 
    1. Barnett said he was issued a cell phone by the SCO which he did not “wipe” like some of his colleagues. He said he heard other agents “comically” talk about wiping their phones, but was not aware of anyone doing it.
    2. As revealed last month by Judicial Watch, senior members of SCO repeatedly and “accidentally” wiped data off at least 27 phones assigned to them.

Barnett said he and others on the SCO would actually mock the investigation into collusion, calling it “Collusion Clue.”

They joked about how the investigation into collusion could be made into a game where investigators are able to choose any character conducting any activity, in any location, and pair that individual with another character and interpret it as evidence of collusion.

In summary, Barnett believed the prosecution into Flynn by the SCO was used as a means to “get Trump.”


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