What you need to know about FBI official Dana Boente's retirement

What you need to know about FBI official Dana Boente's retirement
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Dana Boente is set to depart as the FBI’s top lawyer at the end of this month.

The exit is controversial and comes after allies of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign slams Facebook after thousands of ads blocked by platform's pre-election blackout Mnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' Harris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden MORE urged FBI leadership to take action on officials involved in the 2016 Russia investigation.

Boente’s resignation has been largely overshadowed by the protests going on around the country in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody, and the coronavirus outbreak.


Here's what you need to know.

Who is Dana Boente?

Boente is a career federal prosecutor who has served in various positions within the Justice Department (DOJ) and FBI over the last 38 years.

Boente fleetingly served as the top DOJ official overseeing the Russia counterintelligence investigation after then-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGOP former US attorneys back Biden, say Trump 'threat to rule of law' Biden fact checks Trump on 545 families separated at border, calls policy 'criminal' Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears MORE famously recused himself, earning Trump’s ire.

Boente was later interviewed by then-special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE about his time running the agency. Boente reportedly gave Mueller his notes.

He also served as acting deputy attorney general and the head of the National Security Division.

Why is he retiring?


Boente is resigning, but it does not appear voluntary and it comes as Trump allies seek to continue ousting officials who played key roles in the counterintelligence investigation.

NBC News first reported over the weekend that FBI Director Christopher Wray, at the request of Attorney General William BarrBill BarrDOJ shifts, will allow local police to wear body cameras during operations with federal agents Police accountability board concludes that Seattle police officers used excessive force during encounters with protesters Trump hasn't asked Barr to open investigation into Bidens, McEnany says MORE, asked for Boente to resign. Wray himself has faced criticism and pressure from the right.

Boente was offered another position but chose to retire, according to The Washington Post.

The DOJ declined to comment on such reports, and the FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Right-leaning news outlets, citing unnamed FBI officials, reported in late April that court documents filed by the DOJ allegedly showed Boente was withholding exculpatory evidence related to Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser.

Such allegations have yet to be substantiated. The contents of the legal documents are sealed and remain unknown, but that hasn’t stopped the memos from being touted by defenders of Flynn, who had pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s former ambassador to the United States.

The Justice Department controversially dropped its case against Flynn last month. Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, argued the Boente documents supported calls to dismiss the Flynn case.

Fox Business host Lou DobbsLouis (Lou) Carl DobbsGraham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Lou Dobbs goes after Lindsey Graham: 'I don't know why anyone' would vote for him  Shepard Smith averages 322,000 viewers in first week on CNBC MORE, an avid defender of Trump, amplified Powell’s arguments on his show.

“Shocking new reports suggest FBI General Counsel Dana Boente was acting in coordination with FBI Director Christopher Wray to block the release of that evidence that would have cleared General Flynn,” Dobbs said in late April.

FBI Assistant Director of Public Affairs Brian Hale called the claims about Wray “absolutely false” in a statement to news outlets at the time. His statement made no mention of Boente.

Trump officials have been scrutinizing Boente’s Russia probe involvement

Boente was already on the radar of the president’s allies for his role in signing off on one of the surveillance warrant reauthorizations applications that allowed the FBI to wiretap then-Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

DOJ watchdog Michael Horowitz released a report last year that found “at least 17 significant errors and omissions” in the FBI’s application to wiretap Page, which was approved by a special intelligence court.

Horowitz’s report faulted the team working on the Russia probe, dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane,” for failing to disclose such information to department officials like Boente, before they signed off on the applications.

The Flynn case has re-emerged as a flashpoint among Republicans, who believe he was the victim of prosecutorial misconduct. They have also accused the Obama administration of seeking to hurt Trump’s incoming administration by going after Flynn.

But the administration has also come under intense criticism for dropping the charges against Flynn. Critics say the FBI exercised standard practices in its case and that the decision to drop charges was a political move by Attorney General William Barr.

The fate of Flynn’s case is now up to a federal judge.

Wray is in the hot seat

Boente’s firing comes as Wray has faced increased pressure from the president’s allies to take action as it relates to the Flynn case.

Amid that pressure, Wray ordered an internal review last month into the Flynn case that will determine whether there was any misconduct or errors made by bureau officials during the course of their investigation, and to determine whether there are ways to improve FBI policies and procedures.

Such a move came after news reports surfaced that said Trump’s advisors were urging him not to fire Wray out of fear that he would ignite a firestorm heading into the 2020 election.


Boente may have his chance to speak

Boente, who is set to retire June 30, may have an opportunity to defend his record on Capitol Hill.

Last month, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Election night could be a bit messy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states Late donor surges push election spending projections to new heights MORE (R-S.C.) released a list of more than 50 names of individuals he hopes to authorize subpoenas for as part of his panel’s inquiry into the Russia probe. Boente is among those on the list.

The subpoenas are expected to be put up to a vote on Thursday during a business meeting. If approved by a majority vote by the panel, Graham will be able to subpoena witnesses, documents or other materials as part of the probe.

The Flynn case is one of the threads that Senate Republicans are expected to examine as part of the probe.