Newly unsealed FBI notes that discussed motivations behind interviewing then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in the White House in January 2017 were written by the FBI's former head of counterintelligence Bill Priestap, Fox News is told.
This is not the first time that Priestap’s name has come up in connection with high-profile matters.
When Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report on the origins of the Russia investigation, he revealed that it was Priestap who made the ultimate decision to launch the probe, which was known within the FBI as “Crossfire Hurricane.” Flynn’s case, based on charges that he provided false statements to investigators regarding his contact with a Russian ambassador, came from that investigation.
While Horowitz made it clear that Priestap’s decision was proper in terms of being done according to department policy, he noted that the standard for opening such an investigation was low.
Priestap himself spoke to the Senate Intelligence Committee about the FBI’s inclusion of unverified information from ex-British spy Christopher Steele in an Intelligence Community Assessment which was done as a Memorandum for the President in December 2016. Priestap said that “the FBI didn't want to stand behind it,” but because President Barack Obama requested all information related to Russian election interference, they decided to attach it as an annex to the document in the form of a two-page summary.
Priestap was also involved in the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, he described his involvement in helping draft then-FBI Director James Comey’s statement in which he announced a recommendation not to file charges against Clinton.
Priestap stepped down from his role with the counterintelligence division at the end of 2018 and left the FBI in early 2019. He is currently listed as a 2019-2020 Centennial Fellow with the Georgetown Walsh School of Foreign Service.