FILE PHOTO: FBI Director Christopher Wray departs following a national security briefing for members of the U.S. Senate about how Russia has been using social media to stoke racial and social differences ahead of this year’s general election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two weeks after the Justice Department sought to drop charges against U.S. President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the FBI’s director ordered an internal review on Friday of the bureau’s investigation that led to Flynn’s prosecution.
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who also advised Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, in the weeks before Trump took office.
The probe ordered by FBI Director Christopher Wray will “determine whether any current employees engaged in misconduct” in the investigation of Flynn and “evaluate any FBI policies, procedures or controls” that need to be changed, the agency said in a statement.
The charges arose from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that documented Russian interference in the 2016 campaign to boost Trump’s candidacy. Trump and his allies have denounced the FBI’s investigation of contacts between his campaign and Russians. Wray previously has said he does not believe the FBI unfairly targeted Trump’s campaign.
The Justice Department on May 7 asked U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to drop the charges against Flynn following public pressure from Trump and his political allies. Flynn had sought to withdraw his guilty plea and accused the FBI of tricking him. Sullivan has scheduled a July 16 hearing on the matter.
Democrats and some former federal prosecutors have accused Attorney General William Barr of politicizing the U.S. criminal justice system to benefit Trump associates in criminal cases.
Trump, who has called the FBI “badly broken,” appointed Wray after firing James Comey as FBI director in 2017. The president berated Wray in December after a Justice Department internal watchdog report found no evidence of political bias when the FBI began investigating contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Makini Brice; Editing by Will Dunham