The top lawyer at the FBI submitted his resignation after facing criticism on the Right for his role in the investigation into former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Dana Boente, who has a 38-year career with the Justice Department, agreed to resign under pressure from the Justice Department, according to NBC News.
“Few people have served so well in so many critical, high-level roles at the Department,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. “Throughout his long and distinguished career as a public servant, Dana has demonstrated a selfless determination to ensure that justice is always served on behalf of our citizens.”
“While it will be difficult to replace Dana, I am committed to ensuring that the next general counsel is experienced, objective, and prepared to lead the men and women who make up this vital part of the FBI’s mission,” Wray added.
The FBI told the Washington Examiner on Saturday that Boente announced his decision to retire from federal service, effective June 30, within roughly the past 24 hours.
Boente, who had also been the acting assistant attorney general of the National Security Division and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, has come under fire by critics for his handling of the case against retired Lt. Gen. Flynn.
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to FBI investigators about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding a United Nations resolution on Israel and sanctions. But Flynn now claims he was set up by the FBI, and the Justice Department is seeking to drop the case.
In late April, a couple of right-leaning news outlets reported Boente had concealed exculpatory evidence related to Flynn. These reports were amplified by Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, who said on his show, “Shocking new reports suggest FBI General Counsel Dana Boente was acting in coordination with FBI Director Christopher Wray to block the release of that evidence that would have cleared Gen. Flynn.”
An FBI official told the Washington Examiner that “it’s false that Mr. Boente was trying to stop exculpatory evidence for Flynn from being released.”
Wray picked Boente to be the FBI’s general counsel in January 2018.
He was one of the several key players in the Russia investigation whom Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, named as a possible target for a subpoena as part of the panel’s inquiry into the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference and the Trump campaign as well as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process.
Boente is the only active government official who signed off on one of the FISA warrants targeting onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Now-fired FBI Director James Comey signed off on the second FISA renewal for the FBI in April 2017, and the Justice Department’s signatory at that time was Boente, who was briefly the acting attorney general. He took on that role after Sally Yates, who was deputy attorney general in the Obama administration, was fired in late January 2017 for refusing to defend President Trump’s first travel ban. Boente was replaced by Jeff Sessions after he was confirmed by the Senate.
Boente replaced Jim Baker, who has said he was personally involved in the approval of at least the first FISA warrant against Page and who repeatedly defended the FBI’s handling of British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s dossier.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s December report criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the FISA warrants against Page in 2016 and 2017 and for the bureau’s reliance on Steele’s deeply flawed dossier.
The report noted that Boente and other DOJ officials who signed off on the applications “did not have accurate and complete information at the time they approved them.”
Steele put his research together at the behest of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm. Recently declassified footnotes show the FBI was aware that Steele’s dossier may have been compromised by Russian disinformation and used it anyway.
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