New unsealed FBI memos show that the Bureau found “no derogatory information” on former national security adviser Michael Flynn while investigating his alleged Russian contacts, and moved to close their investigation of him in early January 2017 before former FBI agent Peter Strzok intervened, asking to keep the case open.
The documents, which were released Thursday by the Department of Justice, show that Flynn was given the codename “Crossfire Razor” and investigated in a spinoff case predicated by the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” surveillance of the 2016 Trump campaign — a case in which the infamous Steele dossier played a “central role,” according to DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz’s December report.
Flynn, who pled guilty to lying to the FBI about Russian contacts in January 2017, has since moved to withdraw his guilty plea, saying he “never lied” to federal investigators. In February, attorney general William Barr asked an outside prosecutor from the office of the U.S. attorney in St. Louis to review the DOJ’s handling of Flynn’s prosecution. Flynn’s defense has argued that the retired Army general was “deliberately set up and framed by corrupt agents at the top of the FBI.”
But the FBI moved to close the Flynn case on January 4, 2017, after finding that Flynn had “no contact” with a Russian individual whose name is redacted from the release, and that “CROSSFIRE RAZOR was no longer a viable candidate as part of the larger CROSSFIRE HURRICANE umbrella case.”
“The writer notes that since CROSSFIRE RAZOR was not specifically named as an agent of a foreign power by the original CROSSFIRE HURRICANE predicated reporting, the absence of any derogatory information or lead information from these logical sources reduced the number of investigative avenues and techniques to pursue,” the FBI concluded. “Per the direction of FBI management, CROSSFIRE RAZOR was not interviewed as part of the case closing procedure.”
The FBI’s closing communication was filed in the D.C. field office on January 4, 2017. But that same day, Strzok — who interviewed Flynn in the White House later that month on January 23 — texted a redacted individual, apparently Flynn’s case agent, to ask “if you havent closed RAZOR, don’t do so yet.”
“Pls keep it open for now,” Strzok asked. He then messaged former FBI colleague Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, telling her that it was “serendipitously good” that the case was still open.
“Phew.” Page responded.
Strzok also implied that James Comey and Andrew McCabe were personally involved in the Flynn case — telling a redacted individual on January 4 that “7th floor involved,” an apparent nod to the floor in Bureau headquarters that houses senior FBI leadership.
Horowitz faulted the FBI’s “entire chain of command” during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his report in December, saying he was “deeply concerned” over the “many basic and fundamental” mistakes made during the investigation.
New documents released Wednesday in the Flynn case show that at least one FBI official — widely judged to be the FBI’s former head of counterintelligence Bill Priestap — questioned the basis of the Flynn interview that led to his guilty plea.
Further texts released Thursday show Strzok and Page were concerned about the involvement of someone named “Bill.”
“We’ll see, about Bill,” Strzok texted Page on January 23, the day before the Flynn interview. “ . . . I worry Bill isn’t getting the underlying distinction that I think is clear. But maybe I’m wrong.”