Mysteries of the probe (2)

In his National Review column “Outrageous redactions to the Russia report,” Andrew McCarthy looks at the now unredacted portions of the House Intelligence Committee report that we posted here on Friday night.

About those now unredacted redactions graciously approved by the FBI: “[W]hat we find out is that they were concealing their own questionable judgments and conflicting explanations for their actions; their use of foreign-intelligence and criminal-investigative authorities to investigate Michael Flynn, Trump’s top campaign supporter and former national-security adviser; and their explicitly stated belief that Flynn did not lie in the FBI interview for which Special Counsel Robert Mueller has since prosecuted him on false-statements charges.” McCarthy renders the unsparing judgment: “What happened with these redactions is inexcusable.”

Specifically:

The now-unredacted passages relate that, for some period of time during 2016, the FBI was conducting a “CI investigation into General Flynn.” It was Comey’s recollection that he had “authorized the closure” of that investigation “by late December 2016.”

As we have discussed in connection with Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser against whom the Obama Justice Department obtained FISA surveillance warrants, a CI investigation on an American citizen proceeds on the suspicion that the citizen is an agent of a foreign power whose clandestine activities violate federal criminal law. That is, it appears possible (if not likely) that the Justice Department was operating on the theory that Flynn — a decorated combat veteran and co-author of a 2016 book that brands Russia as an implacable enemy of the United States — was an agent of the Kremlin….

Notwithstanding Friday night’s unveiling of blacked-out passages, the report still contains redacted paragraphs about Flynn. Two of them (on pp. 52–53) sandwich a passage about a business trip Flynn took to Moscow in late 2015 (seven months before he branded Russia a committed enemy in his book). The trip followed a visit to Kislyak by Flynn and his son at the ambassador’s Washington residence.

McCarthy pauses over this previously redacted paragraph (specifying the endnotes): “In the call between General Flynn and Ambassador Kislyak, General Flynn “requested that Russia not escalate the situation and only respond to the U.S. sanctions in a reciprocal manner.” [Endnote (EN) 90] Russia decided not to reciprocate, which eventually led senior U.S. government officials to try to understand why. [There follows a passage of about two lines followed by EN 91, both redacted.] In a subsequent call with General Flynn, Ambassador Kislyak attributed the action to General Flynn’s request. [EN 92]”

McCarthy asks: “Was this passage previously blacked out due to proper concerns about national security, or because the relevant officials couldn’t get their stories straight?”

What is/was going on here? I give the final query to Mollie Hemingway in the tweet below. McCarthy calls on President Trump to order the Department of Justice to let it all hang out.

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