In the latest black eye for investigators in the Michael Flynn case, new documents suggest the investigation was about to be closed before the intervention of former FBI Counterintelligence Division Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, who claimed at the time that higher-ups wanted it to stay open.
According to Politico, in early January of 2017, before then-President-Elect Donald Trump took office, the FBI had decided it had no information to conclude that Flynn had acted as an agent of Russia during the 2016 campaign.
The investigation, called “Crossfire Razor,” had come to the point where agents determined that there was no “derogatory” information on Flynn to justify continuing the probe, according to a document Flynn’s lawyers filed in an attempt to rescind the former national security adviser’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI.
“The absence of any derogatory information or lead information from these logical sources reduce the number of investigative avenues and techniques to pursue,” the document stated. “Per the direction of FBI management, Crossfire Razor was not interviewed as part of the case closing procedure. The FBI is closing this investigation.”
Later that afternoon, Strzok intervened.
“Hey, don’t close RAZOR,” Strzok said in a message to an unidentified FBI agent who was the case agent for the Flynn case. Strzok added that “7th floor involved,” meaning that high-level FBI leadership had directed him to do this.
The decision came less than a week after Flynn had spoken by phone to a Russian diplomat.
When Strzok and another FBI agent interviewed Flynn without Flynn’s counsel being present later in January, the newly installed national security adviser gave false information about contacts he had with Russia.
This would eventually end in a guilty plea on Flynn’s part for lying to the FBI. However, after the plea was entered, Flynn’s lawyers started taking a more aggressive stance about FBI misconduct in the case.
Flynn has since argued that he didn’t deliberately lie to investigators and that there was “egregious misconduct” on the part of the FBI.
One handwritten note about how to approach the FBI’s January 2017 interview with Flynn — and whether to confront him with a lie during the interview — set off plenty of alarms with Flynn’s defenders: “What is our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” the note said.
Republicans felt the new documents indicated the Flynn case was a setup.