General Michael Flynn was indicted based on a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador on December 29, 2016, seven weeks after the presidential election.
That was the day lame-duck President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats—including gardeners and chauffeurs—for election interference.
After the measures were announced, members of the Obama Administration listened in on Flynn’s conversation with the ambassador via wiretap.
They expected Flynn to say: “President-elect Trump believes this Russian collusion thing is a fantasy and these sanctions will be lifted on his first day in office.”
There is nothing wrong with the incoming national security advisor telling an ambassador that the new administration will have a different approach to foreign policy than its predecessor. That is what typically happens in a transition.
Here, though, the accommodation would have been cited to suggest a quid pro quo proving the nonexistent collusion.
The statement would have been improperly leaked and the New York Times headline would have been something like, “Trump Secretly Agrees to Lift Sanctions in Exchange for Putin’s Election Interference.”
Given the political considerations prevailing at the time, it is unlikely that Trump’s presidency would have survived the hit. The CIA, the FBI, and their friends in the media would have worked together to ensure maximum damage.
But Flynn was noncommittal about future administration policy. Drat!
The conspirators did have transcripts of what he said in that and other conversations with the ambassador. This is where the tin-pot dictator behavior of former FBI Director James Comey is fully displayed.
The FBI invited Flynn to be interviewed, supposedly about Russian collusion to steal the election. If you’re Flynn, you say, “Sure, I want to tell you 100 different ways that there was no collusion and when do you want to meet.”
What Flynn did not know was that the purpose of the interview had nothing to do with the election. It would be a test pitting his memory against the transcripts.
Think about that for a moment. Comey did not need to ask Flynn what was said in his conversations with the ambassador—he had the transcripts. The only reason to ask Flynn was to cross him up.
Last week, Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell filed a brief citing evidence that Comey said “screw it” to longstanding FBI protocols that would have prevented the interview.
The brief points out, “Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates candidly opined that the interview ‘was problematic’ and ‘it was not always clear what the FBI was doing to investigate Flynn.’”
In support of the statement, “They knew what they were doing was wrong,” the brief quotes one of the texts Lisa Page sent to her lover and fellow FBI employee Peter Strzok leading up to the interview: “I can feel my heart beating harder. I am so stressed about all the ways THIS has the potential to go fully off the rails.”
The brief catalogs “planning and rehearsing tactics calculated to keep Mr. Flynn ‘relaxed’ and ‘unguarded’ so as to not alert him to the significance of the conversation.”
While answering questions in an interview he thought was inconsequential, Flynn did not have a strong recollection of his conversations with the ambassador.
In his defense, he did not believe he was sitting there to tell the FBI how the Trump Administration would be dealing with Russia going forward. The conversation was supposed to be about the election.
He certainly did not think the FBI would compare transcripts of his conversations to his answers. That would be unlawful.
His lack of complete recall notwithstanding, the agents determined that he had told the truth. They prepared a summary of the interview—a form 302—after concluding that he had answered honestly.
In early February, it was disclosed that Flynn had told Trump’s transition team that he never discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador. The illegally unmasked transcripts, however, indicated that the subject had come up at one point.
It was a minor oversight, more than likely due to Flynn’s lack of recall. Nevertheless, in the phony outrage generated by the since-discredited Russian collusion hysteria, Flynn was forced to resign.
The FBI now had Flynn “lying” to Trump’s transition team. The problem was his 302 indicated he had not lied in his interview. Incredibly, the FBI then amended its 302 to suggest, yes, he lied to us, too.
As Powell points out, “The agents moved a sentence to make it seem to be an answer to a question it was not.” The words “FLYNN stated he did not” were added to the document.
FBI shenanigans such as these led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel. He threatened to indict Flynn for numerous crimes, including the failure to register as a foreign agent over some work he did involving Turkey.
Facing certain financial destruction and a criminal proceeding that would have harmed his family, Flynn punted. He copped to a minor crime—lying to the FBI—to avoid a crucible.
A judge recently threw out the case involving Flynn’s business partner in the Turkey matter, ostensibly resolving in his favor the crime that was fabricated to obtain his guilty plea.
Powell is now seeking to have Flynn’s case dismissed for prosecutorial misconduct. She wrote in her brief:
In this case, high-ranking FBI officials orchestrated an ambush-interview of the new president’s National Security Advisor not for the purpose of discovering any evidence of criminal activity—they already had tapes of the relevant conversations about which they questioned Mr. Flynn—but for the purpose of trapping him into making statements they could allege as false.
Also last week, U.S. Attorney John Durham opened a criminal investigation into whether the whole Russian collusion canard that forced Flynn to sit down for an interview was itself a fabrication.
The walls are closing in on the conspirators.
What do you call a system of government that cannot tolerate a transition of power without corrupt criminal prosecutions by those unwilling to cede control?
“Banana republic” is a term that comes to mind.