Did you catch that? Because we could stop right there if you did. The FBI official who accused Hillary Clinton of asking for declassification of emails in exchange for a “quid-pro-quo” was actually being paid as a consultant by the now-disgraced former Trump National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn.
Rachel Maddow blew this story wide open from the very beginning, where conservative media picked up a story that accused Hillary Clinton of orchestrating a cover up. Here is the gist of the story as covered by The Weekly Standard:
A senior State Department official repeatedly pressed the FBI to change the classification of emails stored on Hillary Clinton’s private server, according to FBI interview summaries set to be released in the coming days. Patrick Kennedy, the undersecretary of state for management, discussed providing additional overseas slots for the FBI in exchange for revisions to classifications of the sensitive emails.
The FBI records official says that his colleague “pressured” him to declassify an email “in exchange for a quid pro quo,” according to the interview summary. “In exchange for making the email unclassified State would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more agents in countries where they are presently forbidden.” The request was denied.
For three days straight, Fox News led the charge of a constant bombardment of conservative-media coverage. There was clearly a large amount of damage done to Clinton’s campaign – all this only three weeks before election day. Maddow describes their collective actions by saying, “they grabbed that mystery bait, and went straight for the bottom of the pond.”
After three days of constant exposure, Maddow explains, things “started to get walked back.” There had been one name that had been redacted over and over again in all of the finger pointing – the supposed whistle-blower. Well, “redacted” came forward. His name is former FBI official Brian McCauley.
McCauley interviewed with The New York Times and said, “I’m the one who threw that out there.” But he quickly learned that what was being asked was illegal. McCauley goes on, “It was off the table; the quid pro quo was not even close to being considered.”
In an interview with The Washington Post, he flatly explains, “Listen, there was no collusion, there was absolutely no collusion. That’s illegal. Something that was underhanded, illegal, I would not do it. No one in the FBI would do it. It’s a matter of integrity.”
This was a largely-made-up story, followed by a firestorm of national coverage, only to be debunked. But the damage was done. And we all thought that was the end of the story. Until this week.
Maddow explains that Michael Flynn registered – albeit retroactively – as a foreign agent. [After he was fired and left in disgrace for lying about communications with the Russian government.] In this, he admits to working as a lobbyist for a foreign government – this at the same time he was working for Donald Trump as part of his presidential campaign. This is, as Maddow describes it, becoming its own “clingy scandal.”
Josh Marshall, a reporter for Talking Points Memo, dug a little deeper into Flynn’s filing. What he found was disturbing. Brian McCauley, the former FBI official who walked back the devastating “cover up” story after irreparable damage had been done, was being paid by Mike Flynn during the Trump campaign. Payments began about two weeks before the story initially broke.
Maddow wraps it up brilliantly:
It helps to know now that his friend – the General – was also his boss; he was on the General’s payroll. Just as it helps to know his boss was a foreign agent. And he was breaking that story, “Hillary Clinton’s emails!”
You can watch the segment in its entirety here: