WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray has ordered an internal review into possible misconduct in the investigation of former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn, the bureau said Friday.
The after-action review will examine whether any current employees engaged in misconduct during the course of the investigation and evaluate whether any improvements in FBI policies and procedures need to be made.
The announcement adds to the internal scrutiny over one of special counsel Robert Mueller’s signature prosecutions during his investigation into ties alleged between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. FBI and Justice Department tactics during that investigation and the Russia probe are being examined.
The unusual review will be led by the bureau’s Inspection Division, which conducts internal investigations into potential employee misconduct.
Although the FBI does not have authority on its own to bring a criminal prosecution, the after-action review will look at whether any current employees engaged in misconduct deserving of discipline. The division cannot take disciplinary action against former employees.
It is not clear how many officials involved in the Flynn investigation remain with the FBI. Several prominent officials — including former Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former agent Peter Strzok, who interviewed Flynn — have either been fired or have otherwise left the bureau.
The FBI did not say what sort of potential misconduct it was looking for in the investigation of Flynn. President Donald Trump has alleged that Flynn was effectively set up to lie when the FBI questioned him at the White House in January 2017.
Those concerns were given new life earlier this month when the Justice Department moved to dismiss the case and identified a series of what it says were problems in the way Flynn was investigated.
The department’s motion to dismiss alleged that agents had insufficient basis to interview Flynn in the first place, especially since the FBI was prepared earlier in the month to close out its investigation into Flynn after finding no crime. It says any imperfect statements he may have made during the interview were not material to the underlying investigation into ties between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign.
Attorney General William Barr defended the Flynn decision, made on the recommendation of U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen of St. Louis after an independent investigation. Barr said in a television interview that he was doing the “law’s bidding” and correcting what he felt was an injustice.
The request to dismiss the case has triggered its own internal back-and-forth in the courts.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has assigned a retired judge to argue against the Justice Department’s position. Flynn’s attorneys have asked a federal appeals court to order Sullivan to dismiss the case, and to reassign any future court proceedings to another judge.
An appeals court panel, meanwhile, has asked Sullivan to respond to the defense request.
The FBI said that in addition to its own internal review, it has cooperated and been transparent with multiple inquiries assigned by Barr, including lending its own agents to the Jensen probe. The FBI has also cooperated with an investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation, led by U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut.
An FBI statement said, “Mr. Jensen’s work will continue to take priority, and the Director has further ordered the Inspection Division to coordinate closely with Mr. Jensen and ensure that the review does not interfere with or impede his efforts.”