How long do you think CNN will end up keeping this guy around after speaking out like this?
James Gagliano is a former FBI agent and current CNN law enforcement analyst. You may recognize his name, as he’s been one of the many going to bat for the bureau throughout the Russia investigation and Michael Flynn saga.
Times are changing though. In light of the latest revelations about how the FBI approached the Flynn interview, Gagliano has written an op-ed in the Washington Examiner and he’s not down for making excuses anymore.
I know it sounds strange to hear me make such an accusation. I’m the guy who long attempted to thread the needle, accounting for honest human frailties, trusting that mistakes should not always be chalked up to malice or sinister intent. Cautious skepticism was a default mindset that served me well across a quarter century as an FBI investigator. That condition failed me here because one thing is clear.
Michael Flynn got railroaded.
Gagliano continues in detail about what he sees in the latest document releases and how it all goes back to undermining the Trump presidency.
It almost appears as if Priestap is attempting to memorialize his own opposition to the Flynn ambush. As in, who would ever chronicle that type of stratagem knowing it might one day be considered Brady material or be subject to a Freedom of Information Act request? It defies credulity. But in Priestap’s defense, he was full-on sailing against the wind.
Then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe essentially called the shots in Crossfire Hurricane. The FBI is charged with enforcing federal law. Nowhere in our identified mission and priorities exists a goal to set a perjury trap or, absent evidence of a prosecutable crime, get someone fired. Why even consider this an objective?
I’m not sure I agree that Priestap was attempting to do the right thing in the passage about getting “him fired” in relation to Flynn. But Gagliano is certainly right that what the FBI did was out of line. If the goal was to secure a prosecution, then getting Flynn fired would not have played into the calculation. It did though, likely because they didn’t want the incoming NSA to find out about all their corruption dealing with the Trump-Russia investigation and the Page FISA warrants. Trying to use the Logan Act as a pretense was always laughable.
Later, Gagliano goes on to point out perhaps the most damning part of what happened. Namely, that Peter Strzok and Lisa Page rewrote the 302s while attempting to cover it up.
The Flynn FD-302 interview notes appear to have been manipulated by Strzok and Page. Pientka was apparently the note taker. Consistent with FBI protocols, Strzok, as a party to the interview, can certainly discuss recollections with Pientka prior to the final document being approved by both. But somehow, Page, the DOJ attorney who was not present at the interview and was not an FBI agent, was involved in the edits.
Strzok advises Page, in a newly released batch of text exchanges between the two, that he was “trying to not completely rewrite” the FD-302, “so as to save [redacted] voice.” The redacted name is most likely Pientka. Strzok wants the document to appear to be voiced by the other agent. But only after he and Page can craft the words to make Flynn appear guilty of lying to the FBI.
I have no idea how such actions aren’t criminal (perhaps they are and Barr will charge them?), but if they aren’t, they should be. The idea that FBI agents could actually alter evidence in such a way to then pressure someone into a guilty plea is exceptionally corrupt and scary. An institution that allows such is an institution that doesn’t deserve to exist.
For his part, FBI Dir. Wray continues to obfuscate, even as more and more evidence of his bureau’s corruption comes to light. Somebody has to be punished here and I’m quickly getting past the point of caring about the political repercussions. Trump shouldn’t hesitate any longer. He should fire Wray and let the chips fall where they may.
I give Gagliano a lot of credit for speaking out on this. He could have easily sat back, kept those CNN hits coming, and protected his past relationships. Instead, he went public with what the obvious truth is. Michael Flynn was railroaded and a price needs to be paid.