On April 26 of this year, former FBI Director James Comey told FOX News’ Bret Baier that he did not believe and had not said to lawmakers that the two FBI agents who had interviewed former national security advisor Michael Flynn didn’t think he intentionally lied.
But on March 15, 2017, Comey told a Senate Judiciary panel that the FBI agents who had interviewed Michael Flynn didn’t think he intentionally lied. According to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the committee, Comey also led them to believe that the Justice Department was unlikely to charge Flynn with making false statements during his FBI interview on January 24, 2017.
Also on March 15, 2017, Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that that the two FBI agents who interviewed Flynn did not detect physical signs of deception, according to a report released earlier this month. That report also quoted former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe as saying “the two people who interviewed (Flynn) didn’t think he was lying.” McCabe added that this lack of apparent deception “was not (a) great beginning of a false statement case.”
And yet, on December 1 of this year, Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents.
What in blazes is going on? Was Comey lying to Bret Baier, or to the committees? (It’s no crime to lie in a FOX News interview –- it’s done all the time –- but if he lied to the committees, he should be facing the same charge Flynn pleaded guilty to, shouldn’t he?) You’d think someone who headed America’s domestic intelligence bureau and is now an extremely well-compensated author would at least be able to keep his stories straight. But this one is so inconsistent, Sen. Grassley has sent a letter to current FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, asking them for copies of the notes taken by FBI agents during their interviews of both Flynn and Comey, to help clear up “apparent contradictions.” And I’m sure he wants them NOW, not some time in 2021.
Peter Strzok, famous for the lightning-speed of his anti-Trump texting, was one of the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn, so it might be really interesting to find out how that interview went. (Strzok has been demoted, but as far as I know he still –- unbelievably –- has his security clearance. Co-texter and paramour Lisa Page was likewise demoted from her job as McCabe’s legal assistant and has finally turned in her resignation but is surely still privy to whatever Strzok learns.) Sen. Grassley is also asking for the FBI to make special agent Joe Pientka available for a transcribed interview; it’s thought that Pientka was probably one of the agents participating in either the Flynn or the Comey interview.
According to recent reports, Flynn had been targeted for surveillance in the same manner as Carter Page (that is to say, not just caught up in others’ phone calls, but spied on himself). His name was unmasked and later illegally leaked. But it appears that at the time the FBI asked to come to the White House to talk with him –- Comey had asked McCabe to set up the interview –- this former lieutenant general had no idea he was in any kind of trouble and spoke to them without even having a lawyer present. (Does that sound like a man trying to hide something nefarious?) Since that fateful day, however, he’s had to engage serious legal counsel, to the point where he ended up selling his house to pay attorneys’ fees. That, of course, is in addition to losing his new job as national security advisor.
To dig himself out of legal and financial quicksand, Flynn is reportedly cooperating with the special counsel as part of his plea deal. That brings to mind Judge T. S. Ellis remarks to one of Mueller’s attorneys during the recent hearing on Paul Manafort’s case, to the effect that the special counsel is trying to get its targets to “sing,” and, if necessary, to “compose,” in an effort to get something on the President. Prosecuting Michael Flynn for what seems to be an inadvertent misstatement looks like another attempt to do just that.