A supervisory special agent who is now under scrutiny after being removed from Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office for alleged bias against President Trump also oversaw the bureau’s interviews of embattled former National Security advisor Michael Flynn, this reporter has learned. Flynn recently pled guilty to one-count of lying to the FBI last week.
FBI agent Peter Strzok was one of two FBI agents who interviewed Flynn, which took place on Jan. 24, at the White House, said several sources. The other FBI special agent, who interviewed Flynn, is described by sources as a field supervisor in the “Russian Squad, at the FBI’s Washington Field Office,” according to a former intelligence official, with knowledge of the interview.
Strzok was removed from his role in the Special Counsel’s Office after it was discovered he had made disparaging comments about President Trump in text messages between him and his alleged lover FBI attorney Lisa Page, according to the New York Times and Washington Post, which first reported the stories. Strzok is also under investigation by the Department of Justice Inspector General for his role in Hillary Clinton’s email server and the ongoing investigation into Russia’s election meddling. On Saturday, the House Intelligence Committee’s Chairman Devin Nunes chided the Justice Department and the FBI for not disclosing why Strzok had been removed from the Special Counsel three months ago, according to a statement given by the Chairman.
The former U.S. intelligence official told this reporter, “with the recent revelation that Strzok was removed from the Special Counsel investigation for making anti-Trump text messages it seems likely that the accuracy and veracity of the 302 of Flynn’s interview as a whole should be reviewed and called into question.”
“The most logical thing to happen would be to call the other FBI Special Agent present during Flynn’s interview before the Grand Jury to recount his version,” the former intelligence official added.
The former official also said that “Strzok’s allegiance to (Deputy Director Andrew) McCabe was unwavering and very well known.”
Flynn, a retired three-star general, issued a statement on Dec. 1, saying, “it has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of “treason” and other outrageous acts. Such false accusations are contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for. But I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.”
According to another source, with direct knowledge of the Jan. 24 interview, McCabe had contacted Flynn by phone directly at the White House. White House officials had spent the “earlier part of the week with the FBI overseeing training and security measures associated with their new roles so it was no surprise to Flynn that McCabe had called,” the source said.
McCabe told Flynn “some agents were heading over (to the White House) but Flynn thought it was part of the routine work the FBI had been doing and said they would be cleared at the gate,” the source said.
“It wasn’t until after they were already in (Flynn’s) office that he realized he was being formerly interviewed. He didn’t have an attorney with him,” they added.
Flynn’s attorney Robert Kelner did not respond for comment.
A former senior Trump administration official, however, described Strzok as one of the “best agents in the bureau. And has now become the latest victim in the Russia investigation.”
“He was the top counterintelligence agent and an asset to the bureau and America,” said the official, who disputed that Strozk would let his political leanings influence his work, despite the alleged anti-Trump text messages his sent Page.
FBI spokeswoman Carol Cratty could not be immediately reached for comment. Strzok could also not be reached for comment.
A former FBI agent said the investigation into Strzok and the reported text messages between him and Page, shows a “bias that cannot be ignored particularly if he had anything to do with Flynn’s interview and his role in it.”
The former U.S. intelligence official questioned, “how logical is it that Flynn is being charged for lying to an agent whose character and neutrality was called into question by the Special Counsel.”
According to an anonymous source in The Washington Post, Strzok’s and Page had exchanged a number of texts that “expressed anti-Trump sentiments and other comments that appeared to favor Clinton.”
Nunes said Saturday that the mistress of Strzok, who was the top FBI official assigned to Mueller’s Special Counsel, was an FBI lawyer working for FBI Deputy Director McCabe.
The FBI and Justice Department have “failed to sufficiently cooperate with the Committee’s August 24 subpoena, and have specifically refused repeated demands from the House Intelligence Committee for an explanation of Pete Strzok’s dismissal from the Mueller probe,” Nunes said.
“We now know why Strzok was dismissed, why the FBI and DOJ refused to provide us this explanation, and at least one reason why they previously refused to make Deputy Director McCabe available to the Committee for an interview,” the chairman added.
Justice Department spokewoman Sarah Isgur Flores said, “we disagree with the Chairman’s characterization and will continue to work with congressional committees to provide the information they request consistent with our national security responsibilities.”
Isgur Flores said in a written statement to this reporter that the Justice Department provided the House Intelligence committee and leadership with “several hundred pages of classified documents and multiple briefings—including for example clear answers as to whether any FBI payments were made to a source in question related to the dossier—and has more recently cleared key witnesses they have requested to testify, including Mr. McCabe, Mr. Strzok, and the alleged handler in question.”
But Nunes said, “by hiding from Congress, and from the American people, documented political bias by a key FBI head investigator for both the Russia collusion probe and the Clinton email investigation, the FBI and DOJ engaged in a willful attempt to thwart Congress’ constitutional oversight responsibility.”
He added “this is part of a months-long pattern by the DOJ and FBI of stonewalling and obstructing this Committee’s oversight work, particularly oversight of their use of the Steele dossier. At this point, these agencies should be investigating themselves.”
Nunes instructed the House Intelligence Committee staff on Saturday “to begin drawing up a contempt of Congress resolution for DOJ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Unless all our outstanding demands are fully met by close of business on Monday, December 4, 2017, the committee will have the opportunity to move this resolution before the end of the month.”
A source familiar with the chairman’s request said Nunes knows the answers to “whether FBI paid for dossier, whether dossier launched investigation, whether the dossier was used as basis for FISA applications. what steps FBI took to verify dossier upon receipt and since in addition, DOJ has cleared every witness he asked for. Period.”
You can reach Sara A. Carter by email at [email protected]
Or Follow her on Twitter @SaraCarterDC