by WorldTribune Staff, May 10, 2020
Disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok heavily edited another agent’s report on the bureau’s interview with Michael Flynn and even allowed his “non-badge wearing” lover, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, to review it and make editing suggestions, newly released documents show.
Former FBI agents and federal prosecutors told RealClearInvestigations that the documents released by the Department of Justice show the irregular handling and editing of Flynn’s FD-302 form, the official document used to record what happens in FBI interviews.
“That form served as a key record used to charge Flynn with lying to federal agents,” Mark Hemingway noted in a May 8 report for RealClearInvestigations.
Flynn pleaded guilty to that charge in December 2017. The DOJ dismissed the case against Flynn on Thursday.
Flynn was interviewed by Strzok and fellow agent Joe Pientka on Jan. 24, 2017.
Under FBI procedure, one agent asks questions in an interview while another takes notes. In the Flynn interview, Strzok was the questioner and Pientka took notes. After completing an interview, those notes are required to be organized and written up on an FD-302 form, which then becomes an official document used as evidence in an investigation.
FBI policy requires 302 forms to be submitted within five working days of an interview. The new documents show the FBI took three weeks to compose Flynn’s 302 form, and it was mislabeled a “DRAFT DOCUMENT,” requiring a re-submission of the form three months later.
“A prosecutor working in the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which eventually charged Flynn, was required to submit a separate document to a federal judge to explain that irregularity,” Hemingway’s report noted.
In a text, dated Feb. 10, 2017, Strzok told Page he had heavily edited Pientka’s 302 form to the point that he was “trying not to completely re-write” it. Other messages reveal that Page, who did not attend the interview, reviewed the 302 form and made editing suggestions. On Feb. 14, Page texts Strzok, “Is Andy good with the 302?” – presumably referring to FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. The next day, the Flynn 302 was officially submitted and filed with the FBI.
“FBI supervisors like Strzok are not supposed to rewrite other agents’ 302 forms,” Hemingway noted. “Nor are 302 forms supposed to be edited by FBI personnel who were not present at the interview, and both of these things happened in the Flynn case.”
James Gagliano, a retired 25-year veteran of the FBI, told RealClearInvestigations: “I’ve probably written in the close to the low thousands of 302s. I’ve probably supervised or overseen thousands upon thousands of more of those. This is not how we do business as an FBI supervisor. I never, ever materially altered a 302.”
Former Special Agent Thomas J. Baker agreed: “We never changed an agent’s 302. An agent would fight a supervisor who wanted him to change the 302, because it’s what that agent observed and heard in his interview. So for us to read, what’s documented in this new material, that coming back from that interview with Flynn, which is a key event, that Peter Strzok said he virtually rewrote the whole thing – it damned them with their own words.”
Both former agents also expressed concern that Page, who was not present at the interview, was editing the 302 form against FBI protocol. “For [Strzok] to send that 302 to Lisa Page, a non-badge wearing, non-credential-having FBI agent, is unconscionable,” said Gagliano.
Hemingway added: “Hovering over all these questions about what happened with Flynn’s 302 is the silence of Joe Pientka, the other agent who was present for the Flynn interview. The FBI rebuffed congressional requests to make him available for questions. The Bureau argued that because Pientka was assigned to the Mueller probe, interviewing him would interfere with the special counsel’s investigation.”
The Muller probe concluded last year. On May 4, Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mike Johnson of Louisiana sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding, among other things, that he make Pientka available for a transcribed interview regarding Flynn.