Nov 27, 2019

Judge postpones Michael Flynn sentencing pending FBI surveillance report

Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

A federal judge on Wednesday postponed the sentencing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn until after the Dec. 9 release of the Justice Department inspector general's report on alleged FBI abuses involving surveillance of the 2016 Trump campaign, CNN reports.

The big picture: The sentencing was set for Dec. 18, but the Justice Department and Flynn's defense asked Judge Emmet Sullivan to delay the sentencing, as the report “will examine several topics related” to a request by Flynn's lawyers to find prosecutors in contempt of court for misconduct, according to the Washington Post.

  • The report, which differs from a wider investigation being led by veteran prosecutor John Durham, is expected to absolve FBI leadership of allegations of political bias that President Trump and his allies have long used in an attempt to discredit the Russia probe, the New York Times reports.
  • However, it's also expected to criticize lower-ranking officials for a series of missteps in the investigation's early stages, including a criminal referral for a former FBI lawyer who admitted to altering a surveillance application.

Flashback: Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to investigators about his contacts with Russia's former ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. He has been cooperating in various investigations ever since.

Go deeper: Justice Department inspector general to testify on FISA investigation

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Justice Department inspector general concludes Russia probe was justified

Michael Horowitz. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In his long-awaited report into the origins of the 2016 Russia probe, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found "serious performance failures" by some FBI officials, but ultimately concluded that the investigation was not tainted by political bias.

Why it matters: President Trump and his allies have long believed that Horowitz would find bias and wrongdoing at the top ranks of the FBI, advancing allegations that the Russia investigation was a politically motivated hit job. While Horowitz does rebuke some low-level officials for carelessness and impropriety while filing surveillance applications, his report ultimately concludes that the basis for the FBI's investigation was legitimate.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 9, 2019

Justice Department inspector general to testify on FISA investigation

Michael Horowitz. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 11 about his investigation into alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the Russia probe, Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced Monday.

Why it matters: Horowitz's highly anticipated report is expected to explore, among other things, whether the FBI's court-ordered surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page was properly handled. Trump allies hope that Horowitz's report, as well as a separate investigation into intelligence collecting led by prosecutor John Durham, will undermine the findings of the Russia investigation.

Go deeper: Investigation into Trump-Russia probe said to become criminal inquiry

Keep ReadingArrowNov 18, 2019

What they're saying: Former FBI officials respond to inspector general report

James Comey. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Politicon

Responding to a Justice Department inspector general report that found that political bias did not taint the 2016 Russia investigation, former FBI Director James Comey wrote in a Washington Post column Monday that "those who smeared the FBI are due for an accounting."

Why it matters: The report largely debunks conspiracy theories promoted by Trump and his allies that the Russia investigation was politically motivated and a product of the so-called "Deep State." However, the report also rebukes FBI officials in rather harsh terms for failing to meet agency standards, especially with respect to surveillance warrants.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 10, 2019