Shortly after my colleague Sara Carter and I began reporting in 2017 on the possibility that the FBI was abusing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to spy on Americans during the Russia investigation, I received a call. It was an intermediary for someone high up in the intelligence community.
The story that source told me that day — initially I feared it may have been too spectacular to be true — was that FBI line agents had actually cleared former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn of any wrongdoing with Russia only to have the bureau's leadership hijack the process to build a case that he lied during a subsequent interview.
In fact, my notes show, the source used the words "concoct a 1001 false statements case" to describe the objections of career agents who did not believe Flynn had intended to deceive the FBI. A leak of a transcript of Flynn's call with the Russian ambassador was just part of a campaign, the source alleged.
The tip resulted in a two-and-a-half-year journey by myself and a small group of curious and determined journalists like Carter, Catherine Herridge, Greg Jarrett, Mollie Hemingway, Lee Smith, Byron York, and Kimberly Strassel to slowly peel back the onion.
The pursuit of the truth ended Thursday when the Justice Department formally asked a court to vacate Flynn's conviction and end the criminal case, acknowledging the former general had indeed been cleared by FBI agents and that the bureau did not have a lawful purpose when it interviewed him in January 2017.