In April 2015, National Public Radio reported on the case of former FBI Special Agent Robyn Gritz who had been forced out of the bureau after she “got crosswise with her supervisors.”
“When you’re fighting terror and you’re seeing buildings come down before you, you’re passionate and you’re emotional, and I think the American people want you to be that way when you’re fighting terror and keeping them safe,” she said.
For fifteen years, she devoted her life to investigating the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attack on the Pentagon, helping to rescue Western hostages and tracking down global terrorists. She was detailed to the CIA and worked closely with the Defense Intelligence Agency, which was led by General Michael Flynn.
Throughout this time, her FBI bosses gave her excellent or outstanding performance reviews.
But in 2012 her career hit a brick wall when she began working for Special Agent Andrew McCabe and his leadership team. It was then that she received her first negative performance rating and was subsequently forced to resign from the FBI.
In 2013, she filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint against her FBI supervisors alleging sexual discrimination and hostile work environment. In 2014, she amended her complaint by averring that she suffered “a hostile [work] environment, defamation of character through continued targeting by Andrew McCabe.”
The FBI’s response claimed that she had become “underperforming, tardy to work, insubordinate, possibly mentally ill…”
So how was Gritz going to survive that kind of attack by the world’s greatest law enforcement agency? Enter General Flynn.
In May 2014, Flynn provided a letter on Pentagon stationery which stated that Gritz “was well-known, liked and respected in the military counter-terrorism community for her energy, commitment and professional capacity, and over the years worked in several interagency groups on counter-terrorism targeting initiatives.” He added, “Her work consistently produced outstanding results in the most challenging environments.”
In 2015, Flynn publicly supported Gritz in an NPR broadcast in which he questioned why Gritz had been driven out of the FBI. Citing her years of valuable national security experience, he praised her as one of the “bright lights and shining stars” in the intelligence community. He added that she “just kinda got it when it came to the kind of enemy that we are facing and the relationship that was necessary between law enforcement and the military… and I just thought she was really a real pro.”
Subsequently, Gritz’s lawyer notified the EEOC that Flynn and other top officials would be witnesses on her behalf. The FBI’s predictably futile and laughable effort to preclude such testimony was unsuccessful, and McCabe was required to submit an opposing sworn statement to EEOC investigators.
In doing so, McCabe got his spurs tangled. He admitted under oath that the FBI had started an internal investigation into Gritz’s personal conduct after learning that she “had filed or intended to file” a sex discrimination complaint against her supervisors. This bone-headed statement constituted an unequivocal and legally fatal admission that the FBI had illegally retaliated against Gritz for exercising her protected right to file such a complaint.
This was not McCabe’s only unforced error. Two weeks after Gritz filed her EEOC complaint, McCabe had her investigated by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility for “time card irregularities.” This inspired move constituted yet another illegal retaliatory act and pure gold for Gritz’s case.
For someone with a law degree, McCabe had made a complete fool of himself.
As these events unfolded, McCabe became Deputy Director of the FBI. In that capacity, he was a central figure in the Trump-Russia collusion investigation, and it was then, according to reports, that he saw his chance to get back at Flynn. Citing three anonymous FBI employees (who themselves fear retaliation), Circa.com reports that McCabe expressed such intense dislike for Flynn that these employees became “uncomfortable as the Russia probe began to unfold and pressure built to investigate Flynn.” One employee was so concerned that he consulted private legal counsel for guidance.
Despite his underlings’ concerns, McCabe’s plan of retaliation against Flynn proceeded apace. According to Joseph diGenova, the newest member of President Trump’s legal team, McCabe set up Flynn for the interview that led to the general’s indictment for lying to the FBI.
DiGenova is the former United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, former Independent Counsel to the United States, and former Counsel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Church Committee which years ago dismembered the U.S. intelligence community). In other words, he is part of the D.C. establishment and presumably has connections and reliable sources in and around the FBI and Department of Justice.
In an article in the February 2018 edition of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis magazine, diGenova lays out a sordid summary of the Comey FBI’s fake investigation of Hillary Clinton’s unsecure private email server and the efforts by the FBI and DOJ to “frame Trump.” Entitled “The Politicization of the FBI,” diGenova’s article is well worth reading.
As for McCabe’s retaliation against Flynn, diGenova offers the following:
Significantly, [FBI Special Agent Peter] Strzok also led the interview of General Michael Flynn that ended in Flynn pleading guilty to making false statements to the FBI. It is important to recall that Flynn’s FBI interview was not conducted under the authority of the special counsel, but under that of Comey and McCabe. It took place during Inauguration week in January 2017. Flynn had met with the same agents the day before regarding security clearances. McCabe called Flynn and asked if agents could come to the White House. Flynn agreed, assuming it was about personnel. It was not.
Flynn had been overheard on a FISA wiretap talking to Russia’s Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. There was nothing criminal or even unusual about the fact of such discussion. Flynn was on the Trump transition team and was a federal employee as the President-Elect’s national security advisor. It was his job to be talking to foreign leaders. Flynn was not charged with regard to anything said during his conversation with Kislyak. So why was the FBI interrogating Flynn about legal conduct? What more did the FBI need to know? I am told by sources that when Flynn’s indictment was announced, McCabe was on a video conference call — cheering!
Since that moment of triumph, the case against Flynn has hit a few rough patches.
For example, we have learned that, in March 2017, former FBI Director James Comey advised members of Congress that the agents who interviewed Flynn didn’t believe that he had intentionally lied and that any inaccuracies in his answers were entirely inadvertent.
Nevertheless, Flynn pled guilty before Rudolph Contreras, the judge who had signed the FISA warrant pursuant to which Flynn’s communications with Kislyak had been intercepted. Immediately after accepting the plea, Contreras without explanation recused himself from the case.
The Flynn case has now been assigned to Judge Emmett Sullivan. This is a problem for the prosecution. Judge Sullivan has had previous experience dealing with dishonest and unethical DOJ lawyers hiding exculpatory evidence from the defense. Sullivan presided over the trial of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens who was convicted of corruption charges and then exonerated after DOJ prosecutors were caught hiding exculpatory evidence which supported Stevens’ defense. As a result, Sullivan has issued and strictly enforced a standing order requiring the prosecution to turn over all exculpatory evidence to the defense.
Since the case wound up before Sullivan several things have happened. First, the parties have agreed to delay Flynn’s sentencing. This could be because Flynn has become a cooperating witness and Mueller wants to delay sentencing until Flynn testifies in open court for the prosecution.
Or the delay may be due to the disintegrating probable cause for the FISA warrant, i.e., the apparently fictitious and uncorroborated Fusion GPS/Christopher Steele dossier of Clinton campaign funded opposition research. Team Mueller and Flynn’s lawyers entered into a confidentiality agreement under which the evidence to be produced by the government will be kept under seal save for its use in court. This means that Flynn’s lawyers are seeking further discovery, which presumably will include the FISA applications and orders. If in fact probable cause for the electronic interception of Flynn’s communications proves to be lacking, they could be suppressed and the case against Flynn would be over.
But the woes befalling the Flynn prosecution are minor to what is happening to its architect, Andrew McCabe.
Following investigation by the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) and a recommendation by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, McCabe was fired two days short of his pension vesting. While the mainstream media are howling in protest, this may be the least of his problems.
In his Imprimis article, Joseph diGenova offers this preview of the potential case against McCabe:
In late spring 2016, just weeks prior to [former FBI Director James] Comey’s July 5 press conference clearing Clinton of any crime [regarding her grossly negligent mishandling of classified materials on her private email server], FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe ordered FBI agents in New York to shut down their investigation into the Clinton Foundation. Their objections were overruled. Sources have told me that McCabe also shut down an additional Clinton investigation. This is the McCabe who, while he was overseeing the Clinton email investigation, had a wife running for the Virginia State Senate and receiving more than $460,000 in campaign contributions from a longtime Clinton loyalist, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. Moreover, it was only after the news of Clinton’s private server became public in The New York Times [in 2015] that McAuliffe recruited McCabe’s wife to run for office. McCabe eventually recused himself from the Clinton probe, but that was one week before the 2016 election, after the decisions to clear Clinton and to pursue the Trump-Russia collusion investigation had already been made. So his recusal was meaningless. [Emphasis added.]
In short, according to diGenova, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, one of the Clintons’ oldest and most trusted political allies, approached McCabe’s wife about running for the Virginia state senate and followed up with over $460,000 in funds while McCabe was shutting down two Clinton related investigations and was in line to supervise the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s unsecure private email server. If true, not only did McCabe fail to recuse himself until after the email investigation was almost done, he squelched other Clinton related investigations all while his wife’s campaign received hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Clinton ally. As described by diGenova, this goes beyond mere conflict of interest and constitutes a prima facie case of good old fashioned quid pro quo bribery.
For good measure, in a recent television appearance, diGenova dropped hints that McCabe wrongfully and illegally ordered agents to materially change their FBI 302 interview reports. Was this done in connection with the agents who believed that Flynn had been truthful in his FBI interview?
In 2017 Gritz filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel alleging that, by his public participation in his wife’s campaign for Virginia state senate, McCabe had violated the Hatch Act which prohibits government employees from engaging “in political activity in concert with a political party, a candidate for partisan political office, or a partisan political group.” To this veteran of federal service, her complaint appears to be well-founded.
Add to this the OIG’s reported investigation of Senator Charles Grassley’s allegations that McCabe may have failed to disclose on his FBI ethics disclosure forms approximately $700,000 in campaign contributions to his wife’s political campaign and that he should have recused himself from the investigation of Clinton’s private email server.
If diGenova, Gritz, and Grassley are correct, McCabe is about to find out what it is like to be on the receiving end of the federal criminal justice system. If that happens, losing his pension will seem like a paper cut compared to the legal chainsaw massacre that awaits him. Just ask General Flynn.
Meanwhile, off to the side sits poor Robyn Gritz, roadkill on McCabe’s way to the top. When she was interviewed by NPR in 2015, she had gone from fighting terrorists to selling cosmetics at a department store. After being branded a malcontent and a nutcase by the FBI, she was lucky to have any kind of job.
As the mainstream media howl in protest over McCabe’s firing, will any of them consider what he did to Gritz? Will the #MeToo movement come to her defense? Of course not. She’s not the right kind of victim and, anyhow, McCabe’s their boy no matter what.
Nevertheless, she can be proud of her distinguished service to this country. And equally important, she can claim the honor of being the first person in government to have had the courage to stand up to the ambitious and vindictive Andrew McCabe.
George Parry is a former federal and state prosecutor who practices law in Philadelphia and blogs at knowledgeisgood.net.