Court Battles

FBI official who worked with Mueller raised doubts about Russia investigation

An FBI official assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller's office told federal investigators last week that he was critical of the investigation into allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. 

FBI agent William Barnett said that the investigation had a "get Trump" attitude that moved it forward, according to a 13-page summary of a Sept. 17 interview released Thursday. He also said evidence of collusion is "not there," that he considered it to be a "dead end," and that the investigation was based on "supposition upon supposition."

Barnett was assigned to investigate former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Barnett said that although he found the steps in the probe "legally justified," the investigation into Flynn was "not great." He added that he thought the investigation was "unclear and disorganized" and that Flynn wasn't conspiring with Russia.

In late 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his December 2016 calls with Russia's then-ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn has since rescinded his guilty plea and the Justice Department (DOJ) announced it plans to drop the perjury charges against him.

Critics have said the DOJ's effort to drop the prosecution against Flynn is a political favor for Trump by Attorney General William Barr, who approved the move.

Barnett said in the interview that he agreed that Flynn lied to the FBI. He also said that Flynn told the FBI after his plea that Trump may have been aware of his communications with Kislyak.

"During one interview of Flynn ... one of the interviewers asked a series of questions including one in which Flynn's answer seemed to indicate Trump was aware of [redacted] between Flynn and the Russian Ambassador," the summary reads.

"Barnett believed Flynn's answer was an effort to tell the interviewers what they wanted to hear," it continues. "Barnett had to ask the clarifying question of Flynn who then said clearly that Trump was not aware of [redacted.]"

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, a Clinton appointee, has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday on the government's motion to dismiss the case against Flynn.

The summary was lauded by conservatives, who have sought to clear any semblances of the Russia investigation before the November election. 

The president's son, Donald Trump Jr, tweeted a Fox News article about the Barnett interview, saying "These people should be in jail!"

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