Former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn was the subject of media leaks in January and February 2017 that ultimately led to his dismissal and eventually, an indictment.
The leaked information was from transcripts of Flynn’s telephone calls that are considered highly classified and sensitive. Several high-ranking officials in the government leaked the information on at least two separate occasions to David Ignatius of the Washington Post, according to the New York Times.
The probe into leaks is part of a Justice Department investigation headed by prosecutor John Durham into the origins of the Russia collusion story.
The report is the first indication that Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, is focusing on media leaks as part of an expansive probe into issues related to the government’s investigation into possible ties between Trump associates and the Russian government.
Durham has been investigating the FBI’s handling of the Steele dossier and the CIA’s handling of intelligence regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The story that the leakers gave Ignatius was explosive.
A column that Ignatius wrote on Jan. 12, 2017, helped stoke conspiracies of collusion between Team Trump and the Kremlin.
Citing a “senior U.S. government official,” Ignatius reported that Flynn spoke in late December 2016 to Sergey Kislyak, who then served as ambassador to Russia.
Ignatius wrote that Flynn “cultivates close Russian contacts,” and questioned whether the retired lieutenant general spoke with Kislyak about sanctions that the Obama administration had placed against Russia.
That Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador about sanctions is hardly earth-shattering news. But the insinuation that some sort of deal was in the works between the Trump campaign and the Russian government that sanctions would be lifted if Russia helped Trump win the presidency was totally false. And it took a special prosecutor nine long months of investigations to figure that out.
A team of reporters at WaPo followed up with a story on Feb. 9, 2017, citing nine current and former government officials who said that Flynn discussed sanctions with Kislyak. It has since been revealed that investigators had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls with Kislyak.
Flynn was indicted for making false statements to the FBI. He pled guilty to protect his son from legal jeopardy. He has since petitioned the court to vacate his deal, claiming he did not knowingly lie to investigators.
Of course, that hardly mattered during this witch hunt. And the media were willing partners with the counterintelligence community in their attempts to bring Trump down.
Durham may prefer to operate in the shadows, playing his cards close to the vest and keeping leaks from his own office at a minimum. Attorney General Barr appears willing to give him wide latitude in his investigation as the prosecutor roams the dark underbelly of American intelligence.
Those can’t be the only leaks that Durham is investigating, nor the only direction his investigation is going. No one is even guessing how long this probe will last, but Durham has a reputation for being thorough, which means it will be a while.