FBI director orders internal review of Flynn investigation

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FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2019 file photo, Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, leaves the federal court following a status conference in 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. That's according to an FBI statement issued Friday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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.

In announcing the review, the FBI, a frequent target of President Donald Trump’s wrath, is stepping into a case that has become a rallying cry for Trump supporters — and doing so right as the Justice Department pushes back against criticism that its recent decision to dismiss the prosection was a politically motivated effort to do Trump's bidding.

The announcement adds to the internal scrutiny over one of special counsel Robert Mueller's signature prosecutions during his investigation into ties between Russia and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. It underscores how a case that was seemingly resolved by Flynn's 2017 guilty plea has instead given way to a protracted, politically charged debate about FBI and Justice Department tactics during that investigation and the Russia probe more broadly.

The unusual review will be led by the bureau's Inspection Division, which conducts internal investigations into potential employee misconduct. Trump has recently been sharply critical of the FBI, and suggested earlier this month that Wray's fate as director could be in limbo. An FBI official said Friday that the review had been contemplated for some time and that the FBI has cooperated with multiple Russia-related internal inquiries.

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, who pleaded guilty to lying to agents about conversations with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period. But the case has long been a subject of outrage for Trump and his allies, who have alleged that Flynn was effectively set up to lie when the FBI questioned him at the White House in January 2017.