We know that President Obama had it in for Gen. Michael Flynn. The former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency was a persistent critic of Obama’s feckless policies, especially regarding ISIS. Obama reportedly advised president-elect Trump not to offer Flynn a high level position.
According to this report from Circa, the FBI’s Andrew McCabe also had an ax to grind with Flynn. A few years ago, Robyn Gritz, a supervisory special agent, filed a discrimination/retaliation claim against the FBI. Flynn supported Gritz’s claim. According to Circa, he wrote a letter of support in 2014 on his official Pentagon stationery, backed her in a 2015 public interview, and offered to testify on her behalf. (The FBI opposed allowing Flynn to testify. As I read Circa’s story, it appears that he did not testify.)
McCabe was implicated in the retaliation part of the case. Circa says he admitted that the FBI opened an internal investigation into Gritz’s personal conduct after learning that the agent had filed or intended to file a sex discrimination complaint against her supervisors. McCabe’s involvement was such that he had to submit a sworn statement to investigators.
Such developments are hardly a feather in the cap of an FBI official trying to climb the ladder to the top. I doubt McCabe was amused.
In late 2016, McCabe was the number two man at the FBI. He emerged as a central player in the FBI’s Russia election tampering investigation.
This put him in a position to get back at Flynn. Three FBI employees told Circa they personally witnessed McCabe make disparaging remarks about Flynn before and during the time the retired Army general became a figure in the Russia case. They say that McCabe’s disparaging remarks made them uncomfortable as the Russia probe unfolded and pressure built to investigate Flynn. One employee says he even consulted a private lawyer.
If Circa’s reporting is accurate, it seems clear that McCabe should have recused himself from any aspect of the probe pertaining to Flynn. Instead, according to Circa’s sources, he drove the probe in all of its aspects.
I don’t mean to say that Flynn shouldn’t be investigated or that the investigation itself has been unfair. I have no knowledge one way or the other that bears on these questions. (The well-publicized, see below, phone conversation with the Russian ambassador doesn’t warrant an investigation because there wasn’t anything improper about it).
However, we all know that Flynn has been the victim of improper leaking. Circa reports:
FBI agents’ concerns became more pronounced when a highly-classified piece of evidence — an intercepted conversation between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak — suddenly leaked to the news media and prompted Flynn’s resignation as Trump’s top security adviser.
“The Flynn leaks were nothing short of political,” one FBI employee said, noting the specific contents of the conversation were known by only a handful of government officials when they leaked. “The leaks appeared to be targeted to take Flynn out.”
Who within the FBI had a personal reason for wanting to take Flynn out? The answer, it appears, is Andrew McCabe.
What about James Comey? He says that when President Trump asked him if he might go easy on Gen. Flynn, a “good guy,” Comey responded, “I agree, he is a good guy.”
Did Comey really say this? If so, was he just deflecting Trump’s request or did he believe what he said?
At this point, who knows? It seems likely, though, that McCabe, not Comey, was Flynn’s enemy at the FBI.
“Good guy” or not, the FBI’s leaking of adverse information about Flynn was unconscionable. If McCabe is responsible for it, he should be held accountable.