Top FBI lawyer who authorized Carter Page surveillance is forced to resign
Chuck Ross on May 31, 2020
The FBI lawyer who signed a surveillance order against former Trump aide Carter Page that the Justice Department has deemed invalid submitted his resignation on Friday, the FBI said.
Dana Boente, the FBI general counsel, has recently come under scrutiny over his role in the various investigations against former Trump advisers, including Michael Flynn and Carter Page.
Boente signed one of the four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders against Page. Boente, who served as acting attorney general for the Russia investigation early in the Trump administration, signed the surveillance warrant against Page on April 7, 2017.
The Justice Department has deemed that order to be invalid because the FBI withheld information that undermined the bureau’s theory that Page was a Russian agent. The FBI cited the now-debunked Steele dossier extensively in its FISA applications.
Boente is the last official who signed one of the Carter Page FISAs still remaining in government.
FBI Director Christopher Wray announced internally on Friday that Boente will be leaving his role on June 30. Boente, a 38-year veteran of the Justice Department and FBI, served as U.S. attorney in Virginia, as a prosecutor for the Justice Department’s national security division, and as acting attorney general early in the Trump administration.
“Few people have served so well in so many critical, high-level roles at the Department. 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,” Wray said in a statement.
According to NBC News, top officials at the Justice Department directed Wray to force Boente to resign from the FBI.
Boente was offered a different position in the Justice Department but opted to resign instead, according to The Washington Post.
Justice Department spokesman Kerri Kupec referred questions about the resignation to the FBI.
Boente has come under scrutiny amid allegations that he opposed the release of documents in the Michael Flynn case. The Federalist reported on April 24 that Boente led the charge to block disclosure of documents that Flynn’s legal team says are exculpatory in the case against the retired general.
Flynn pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017 to making false statements to the FBI regarding his conversations with a Russian diplomat in late December 2016.
The New York Times confirmed aspects of The Federalist report in a story on May 13. According to the newspaper, Boente opposed providing the documents to Flynn’s legal team but reluctantly did so under pressure from the Justice Department.
One of those documents was a Jan. 4, 2017 FBI memo authorizing the bureau to close a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn.
Top FBI officials intervened to keep the Flynn probe open, according to the documents.
Another document was a handwritten note dated Jan. 24, 2017 that showed then-FBI official Bill Priestap questioned whether the goal of an interview with Flynn was “to get him to lie” in order to prosecute him or force him out of a job.
The Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss charges against Flynn on May 7, saying that prosecutors should have provided the exculpatory material to Flynn’s lawyers.
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