More Michael Flynn news? Yes, and I hope I don’t have to tell you how important this ongoing story is. I know it's frustrating to you that the information continues to come to us in dribs and drabs, because it is to me. But this story, from its beginning –- as far back as 2014 –- is emblematic of a law enforcement/intel bureaucracy gone horribly wrong. I hope you’ll bear with me, as we’re finally getting to the most important part of all: discovering how involved President Obama was in this travesty of “justice.” Deductive reasoning tells us he knew all about it; evidence starting to come in now likely will show he was running it.
And John Solomon has done it again. He’s examined more text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, these from January 3, 2017. That date falls just the day before FBI investigators informed Strzok that they were ready to close the case against Flynn, having found precisely nothing, and just two days before the big Oval Office meeting with Obama, Biden, Brennan, Clapper, Comey, Yates and Rice. It was 17 days before President-elect Trump would take office.
In these texts, Strrok and Page are discussing the White House attempting to obtain some Flynn transcripts. They know the investigation has turned up nothing on Flynn, and there has been concern from...someone...that the White House will politicize the transcripts, that they will be “politically weaponized.” Given what we know, and with the timing of the text exchange –- just after Strzok has had a conversation with Priestap –- it seems probable that it was Priestap who has expressed this concern. Apparently, Priestap is concerned that James Clapper will share the conversations with President Obama.
"He, like us, is concerned with oversharing,” Strzok texts Page. “Doesn’t want Clapper giving CR cuts [“Crossfire Razor,” meaning Flynn; “cuts” meaning excerpts from phone calls] to WH. All political, just shows our hand and potentially makes enemies.”
ALL POLITICAL..JUST SHOWS OUR HAND??
Strzok later texts Page: “The question [presumably from Priestap] is should we [provide them], particularly to the entirety of the lame duck [U.S. Intelligence Community] with partisan axes to grind.”
PARTISAN AXES TO GRIND??
Then Strzok and Page talk about Presidential Daily Briefings, and that’s where this gets really interesting and shows how much more we need to find out. “Did you follow the drama of the PDB last week?” Strzok texts Page. “Yup, don’t know how it ended though,” Page responds. “”They didn’t include any of it,” Strzok texts, and Bill [Priestap] didn’t want to dissent.” Page answers, “Wow, Bill should make sure Andy [McCabe] knows about [this] since he was consulted numerous times about whether to include the reporting.”
Solomon says he's had these texts since September 2018; apparently he couldn’t publicize them because they hadn't been declassified. In the meantime, however, he's had “interviews with officials familiar with the conversations,” so what sounds cryptic to us is probably well understood by him. Here are the texts themselves.
The investigations going on now are trying to determine whether Obama’s longstanding distaste for Flynn, which we’ve detailed here, influenced the FBI’s decision to reject the recommendation by its own agent, Joe Pientka, to shut down the Flynn investigation in early January 2017 and instead work up a plan to set him up to “lie” to the FBI. Solomon says that one investigator “with direct knowledge” told him that “the evidence connecting President Obama to the Flynn operation is getting stronger.”
According to that investigator, “The Bureau knew it did not have evidence to justify that Flynn was either a criminal or counterintelligence threat and should have shut the case down. But the perception that Obama and his team would not be happy with that outcome may have driven the FBI to keep the probe open without justification and to pivot to an interview that left some agents worried involved entrapment or a perjury trap.”
As Solomon said to Sean Hannity Tuesday night, “It gives us a state of mind that the White House was driving the Flynn decisions in this very critical time leading up to…Trump taking office.”
Also on Tuesday, acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell turned the office over to new DNI John Ratcliffe, just after declassifying MORE phone calls between then-national security adviser Michael Flynn and then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. It’ll be up to Ratcliffe if and how soon the transcripts of those calls will be made public.
According to a FOX NEWS report Tuesday night, a senior intelligence official said that key documents will provide “a very significant understanding of how intelligence was manipulated to support the launch of the Russia investigation.” Much more to come on that.
Also, Andrew C. McCarthy has a must-read column about Judge Emmet Sullivan and the role politics is playing right now to deprive Flynn of his due process rights.
As McCarthy told Shannon Bream on FOX NEWS Tuesday night, “I think the problem Judge Sullivan has is the same problem a lot of people analyzing this have, which is that the political dimension of it has in some ways, I think, paralyzed people’s way to look at what is really a very simple legal equation.”
As McCarthy explains, only the Justice Department --- the prosecution, which is part of the Executive Branch --- has the power either to open a case or to continue it. “A judge has no power to force the government either to bring charges or to continue charges."
Bream read from the Fokker case, which has been cited as precedent by Flynn attorney Sidney Powell: “It has long been settled that the Judiciary generally lacks authority to second-guess those Executive determinations, much less to impose its own charging preferences.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
The judge was given an opportunity to fix this; the three-judge appeals panel gave him 10 days. He still could do this, but considering that he has dug in and hired his own attorney, it doesn’t seem likely.
Finally, Margot Cleveland has another great column on Judge Sullivan, also focusing on the politics. She does say it’s appropriate for a judge to hire a lawyer in a mandamus petition such as this. (McCarthy, in contrast, called Sullivan's decision to do this “jaw-dropping,” and Powell has raised numerous questions about it, particularly about who is paying the lawyer.) But Cleveland reveals something new about Sullivan’s choice of attorney, Beth Wilkinson: she happens to be the lawyer who represented Hillary Clinton during the FBI’s “investigation” of her mishandling of classified information in 2016. Hey, it’s real cozy down there in the swamp.