The case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security advisor, has always been a trainwreck in plain sight.
In January 2017, the FBI took action to interfere with the peaceful transition of power from the Obama Administration to the incoming Trump Administration. The framing of Flynn was never meant to withstand scrutiny.
A quick plea induced by dirty tricks and threats to prosecute Flynn’s son was supposed to turn Flynn’s cooperation into a launchpad for a special counsel and impeachment. The new information profiled by the Federalist’s Margot Cleveland added to the evidence of shocking governmental misconduct.
But there are so many terrible injustices committed by the team led by Brandon VanGrack that it’s worth recounting what we have learned over the subsequent three years since the partisan get-Trump project masquerading as law enforcement got underway.
At the time of the Flynn interview, January 24, 2017, the FBI had already learned that Christopher Steele’s Trump-Russia collusion dossier was garbage. As I reported, Steele’s primary sub source, Sergei Millian, disavowed Steele’s dossier in late January 2017.
Even before that, the FBI’s confidential human sources turned up information that directly and consistently contradicted Steele’s reporting. Moreover, before the FBI interviewed Flynn, the story about the president’s private attorney travelling to Prague to pay hackers was similarly exposed as a fraud.
Viewed in this context, it’s apparent that the FBI was attempting to gin up new angles of attack against Trump in order to justify its continued spying, leaking, and interfering with the constitutional authority of the incoming president.
The FBI leaked details about wiretapped phone calls between Flynn and the Russian ambassador. Even though Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador were perfectly innocuous, the leaks interfered with legitimate confidentiality of diplomatic groundwork the incoming president should have been allowed to undertake.
Partisans within the FBI used leaks of their investigation in a concerted effort to disrupt the transition to the newly-elected administration. A new administration should always use the post-election transition to open lines of communication with foreign counterparts. It’s essential to the peaceful transfer of power and it is gravely troubling that the FBI would meddle in that process.
The FBI repeatedly edited Flynn’s statement without his knowledge or participation. There are multiple versions of the “302” form that is supposed to represent Flynn’s false statement.
Disgraced FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who was not even present during the interview, nevertheless participated in the editing. According to the plea documents, Flynn, “falsely stated that he did not ask Russia’s Ambassador . . . to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia.”
FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka did not make a video or audio recording of their interview with Flynn. Had the FBI recorded the interview, Flynn could have listened to his own words instead of relying on the edited 302s the FBI massaged to support the guilty plea.
Flynn’s defense team was not allowed access to the transcript of the phone call he supposedly lied about. In the Statement of Offense, Flynn paraphrases his conversation with the Russian ambassador. If you’re going to prosecute somebody for felony lying, the defendant should know what was really said in the original conversation.
Incredibly, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about this request without ever being given access to the recording or transcript of the original conversation with the Russian ambassador.
The “lie” Flynn allegedly told was not material to any investigation or crime. The FBI already had the entire conversation on an audio recording. This ties into the newly discovered notes of the FBI agents prepping for the interview. The question is raised as to the “goal” of the interview.
Getting him to lie was one of the stated objectives. Asking him to remember what was said during the conversation had only one purpose: to catch him in an inconsistency that could be used as a pretext for prosecution.
Recall, the agents asked him questions about a conversation that happened months earlier without giving him the benefit of the audio recording they had in their possession. Had the purpose been to gain context behind what the FBI already knew was said, they would have provided that information. The new revelations about the FBI using the Flynn interview as a perjury trap simply confirm what was already obvious: The FBI wasn’t interviewing Flynn to investigate a crime. It was there to pin one on him.
Flynn’s “lie” was not intentional. Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe actually admitted that the interviewing agents did not think Flynn was intentionally lying.
The government allowed records of communication between Stzok and Page to be destroyed. This is important because proving Flynn’s intent to lie is essential to the case. Strzok’s texts to his lover Lisa Page shortly after the interview could be key to his assessment in real-time. Since both Page and Strzok also had a hand in editing Flynn’s 302 statement, it’s troubling that special prosecutor Robert Mueller would have allowed their texts to be deleted.
Andrew McCabe is unbelievable. The former deputy director of the FBI had a vendetta against Flynn. This was not some arms-length official investigation. McCabe had a motive to use his vast FBI power to hurt Flynn.
McCabe’s testimony would be essential to proving Flynn guilty because it’s McCabe who supposedly put Flynn on notice that this interview was an investigation. And, as I’ve written before, lying to the FBI is only a crime if the person doing the lying has reason to believe the information pertains to an official function of the FBI.
But the Justice Department declined prosecution of McCabe for lies that were far more frequent and material than those attributed to Michael Flynn.
What’s more, the FBI discouraged Flynn from having an attorney present during the questioning. No informed public official will ever again trust an FBI offer of an “informal chat” to clear a few things up. McCabe, Stzok, and Pientka so abused this technique that there will no longer be any stigma attached to refusing to cooperate with the FBI. From here on out, everyone will “lawyer up.
Prosecutors reportedly threatened to prosecute Flynn’s son to coerce a plea deal. As noted by Margot Cleveland, this theory was recently confirmed by a newly-revealed email, “We have a lawyers’ unofficial understanding that they are unlikely to charge [Flynn’s son] in light of the Cooperation Agreement.”
Prosecutors intimidated Flynn’s attorneys with threats of criminal prosecution for Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) violations in order to coerce a plea deal. The “Logan Act” predicate for investigating Flynn is probably unconstitutional and has only ever been used as a pretext to prosecute political enemies.
And the judge who accepted Flynn’s plea, Judge Rudy Contreras, mysteriously recused himself shortly after accepting Flynn’s plea. It has since come to light that Contreras had such a friendly relationship with agent Strzok, that he and Lisa Page openly wondered whether the judge might have a conflict of interest.
The first duty of any government official is to protect and defend the Constitution. It’s a miracle of history that our founders designed a system that, until 2017, resulted in an uninterrupted transfer of power through democratic means.
The FBI has made it clear that it expects presidents first to seek its blessing before they will be allowed to serve. Otherwise, an incoming president will face the wrath of politically-motivated agents who will use their powers to interfere with domestic politics. The framers never intended for a bureaucracy under the purview of the executive branch like the FBI to use its surveillance and law enforcement powers to act as a gatekeeper to real political power. The voters were supposed to decide who is in charge of the government. Anything less is not constitutional republic. It’s a police state.