White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Friday implored reporters to cover revelations about the FBI’s “partisan pursuit” of Mike Flynn.
McEnany said the FBI’s targeting of President Trump’s former national security adviser is a “very scary story” and a “case of injustice.”
“What we’ve all learned from that should scare every American citizen,” McEnany said during her first formal briefing with reporters. “There was an unfair target on the back of Gen. Michael Flynn and it should concern every American any time there’s a partisan pursuit of an individual.”
McEnany raised Flynn’s case on her own and urged reporters to give it more coverage after the release this week of FBI documents.
“I’m asking back that all of you in your coverage endeavor to report what is a very scary story, when the FBI is saying, ‘Let us get someone to lie.’ I’ve seen very scant coverage of that. It’s a story worth reporting,” she said.
On Thursday, President Trump amplified a Justice Department document release that included a handwritten note from former FBI counterintelligence director Bill Priestap. After he met with then-FBI Director James Comey and then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Priestap wrote: “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
“He’s in the process of being exonerated if you looked at those notes,” Trump said. “These were dirty, filthy cops at the top of the FBI.”
A different document indicates that the FBI was prepared to close an investigation into Flynn before Trump took office in January 2017.
About two weeks before Trump’s inauguration, anti-Trump former FBI official Peter Strzok wrote: “Hey, don’t close RAZOR,” using the codeword for a probe into whether Flynn was a Russian agent. Strzok wrote that “7th floor involved,” referring to FBI leadership.
Trump routinely charges that Strzok, McCabe and Comey treated him and his associates unfairly in the FBI’s Russia investigation.
In late 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about two contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn is attempting to withdraw his guilty plea ahead of sentencing. He says he did not intentionally lie.
McEnany said that the latest Flynn news follows a year of developments in the case, pointing to Comey’s December statement that sending FBI agents to interview Flynn without negotiation with the White House counsel was something he “wouldn’t have done or gotten away with” in a different administration.
Flynn was fired by Trump in early 2017, less than one month into his administration, with an initial justification that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his talks with Russia’s ambassador.
According to a plea document, Flynn lied to the FBI in January 2017 about two contacts — on Dec. 22 and Dec. 29, 2016 — with Kislyak. Both contacts were made during Trump’s presidential transition with the knowledge of other aides.
Prosecutors said one contact occurred after Flynn “called a senior official of the presidential transition team” to discuss sanctions and that the other contact occurred after a “very senior member of the transition team” directed an outreach effort regarding a United Nations vote.
At the time, the FBI was investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton. Flynn agreed to cooperate with investigators in pleading guilty. In accepting a plea, he also avoided charges for working as an unregistered lobbyist for Turkey.
A subsequent investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.
Lying to the FBI is a crime but isn’t always prosecuted. In what Flynn defenders see as a double standard, prosecutors recently decided not to prosecute McCabe, who was fired after an inspector general report identified multiple alleged lies to FBI officials about his role authorizing a leak to the media.
McEnany pointed reporters to Pence’s Thursday statement about Flynn’s alleged lie, that “I’m more inclined to believe it was unintentional than ever before.” She said Flynn, a former Army general, is “an honorable man who served his country.”