Shortly after former President Donald Trump won the 2016 election, his incoming national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn had several phone calls with then-Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. The contents of that phone call, which should have been classified, were leaked to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who wrote a column about the phone calls implicating impropriety.
It ended up looking like someone from the Obama administration leaked the phone call to hamstring the incoming Trump administration by suggesting Flynn was breaking the law. The Ignatius column, as noted by The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross, “set in motion a series of events that eventually led to Flynn pleading guilty in the special counsel’s investigation.”
It turned out that Flynn likely pleaded guilty to misremembering aspects of the forgettable phone call months later when questioned by FBI agents, who had a transcript of the call in front of them at the time. Flynn was questioned without an attorney present and later obtained a new attorney and rescinded his guilty plea. Trump pardoned Flynn on November 25.
An investigation was opened into whether Obama officials illegally leaked Flynn’s classified phone call to the press. The investigation, code-named Operation Echo, was apparently closed recently without any consequences, The New York Times reported.
“Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington investigated whether the disclosures came from former Obama administration officials who had access to sensitive information about the phone calls, according to two people familiar with the investigation. The investigators ultimately found no wrongdoing, one of the people said,” the outlet wrote.
The leak of Flynn’s phone call may still be under investigation by special counsel John Durham, however.
The Times included the news about the Flynn investigation several paragraphs into an article about no charges being filed in a separate Department of Justice investigation – this one into Sen. Richard Burr’s stock trades early in the coronavirus pandemic.
“Tonight, the Department of Justice informed me that it has concluded its review of my personal financial transactions conducted early last year,” Burr said in a statement regarding the investigation. “The case is now closed. I’m glad to hear it. My focus has been and will continue to be working for the people of North Carolina during this difficult time for our nation.”
In addition to these two cases, the DOJ also closed an investigation into former Trump campaign adviser Walid Phares, who was accused of “secretly working on behalf of the Egyptian government in the months before Mr. Trump took office to influence the incoming administration,” the Times reported. No charges were filed against Phares.
After he was pardoned, Flynn spoke to World View Weekend’s Brandon Howse, saying he believed he was targeted because Democrats lost the election in 2016.
“When they lost in 2016, I think that there was a decision to say, ‘We’re not going to allow this to happen again,’” Flynn said.