Three-star general and President Trump’s original choice for national security advisor Michael Flynn was railroaded.
Railroaded, set up, entrapped, framed, every synonym listed in Roget’s Thesaurus. Very deliberately. That’s the only conclusion I can reach after reading Byron York’s shocking story in the Washington Examiner, which appears on the same day Gen. Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced. As bad as everything the FBI, special counsel and Democratic leadership have done, and are continuing to do, to accomplish their goal of deposing Trump, the treatment of Flynn may rank as the sorriest abuse of the Constitution to date. And that’s saying a lot.
This is not supposed to happen in the United States of America, and it is intolerable.
We learn about this through a sentencing memo filed on Tuesday by Flynn’s lawyers. It references the “302” written by then-deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe –- he has since been fired –- on the meeting two FBI officials had with Flynn --- you know, the one in which he’s accused of lying when even his interrogators said they didn’t think he had. Anyway, the 302, which normally would have been written contemporaneously while memories were fresh but for some very strange reason was prepared almost seven months after the fact, contains some information which Flynn’s lawyers were allowed to reference in their own court document. (The FBI is still refusing to release the full 302.)
Going by McCabe’s own written account, here’s how the worst day of Flynn’s life unfolded:
Around noon on January 24, 2017, when Trump had been in office just four days, Flynn got a call at his new West Wing office, on a secure phone, from McCabe. They discussed a bit of business, and then McCabe casually asked Flynn if a couple of agents could drop on by and ask him to clarify some details of Flynn’s talks with Russian officials that had taken place during the presidential transition.
We learn that in order to keep Flynn “relaxed,” McCabe, by his own account in the 302, specifically encouraged him to just casually talk to the officials by himself, WITHOUT A LAWYER. It wouldn’t be a big deal or anything like that. To further induce Flynn to keep it light and off-the-cuff, he said that if Flynn did want to include anyone else in the meeting, they’d need to involve the DOJ and it would become a bigger deal, and who wants that, right? So the unsuspecting Flynn just said some version of, “Sure, Andy, I’m just unpacking a few boxes over here and will be around, so that would be fine if they want to come on over this afternoon.”
Then, boom, the agents –- one of them the notoriously anti-Trump Peter Strzok –- arrived at Flynn’s office within two hours. Sure enough, in his report McCabe describes Flynn as “relaxed and jocular” (editorial aside: according to plan, nyah-ha-ha!) As the 302 describes, McCabe and other FBI officials had decided ahead of time that “the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned THAT GIVING THE WARNINGS MIGHT ADVERSELY AFFECT THE RAPPORT.” (Emphasis mine.)
Remember that by unmasking his name in wiretapped telephone conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak (and, later, illegally leaking this information to the Washington Post, but I digress), the agents already had the information they needed, but Flynn was left in the dark. According to the Flynn sentencing memo, “Before the interview, FBI officials had also decided that if ‘Flynn said he did not remember something they knew he said, they would use the exact words Flynn had used...to try to refresh his recollection. If Flynn still would not confirm what he said...THEY WOULD NOT CONFRONT HIM OR TALK HIM THROUGH IT.’” (Again, emphasis mine.) In other words, if they thought it was possible that Flynn had misled them, they would not try to clear it up with him. As the meeting wrapped up and they all shook hands out in the hall, Flynn apparently had no clue that he had said anything wrong. One can picture him going back to unpacking boxes and setting out pictures of his family in his new office at the White House, thinking, “Well, that’s done. What nice guys.”
The Flynn memo, citing what McCabe himself had written in the 302, said, “One of the agents reported that Gen. Flynn was ‘unguarded’ during the interview and clearly saw the FBI agents as allies.” This should send a chill up every American’s spine.
So, as Flynn’s lawyers suggest, he was caught off guard, rushed into an on-the-spot interview, misled into thinking this was not a serious conversation, and told it would be just as well --- better, in fact --- if he didn’t have a lawyer there. I would add that he didn’t have a clue about having been wiretapped. (If they’d really wanted to refresh his memory, they could have just shown him their transcript.) Flynn subsequently was indicted for lying to the FBI; lost his prestigious job and, essentially, his career; lost his house; spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees; reportedly had family members threatened with prosecution; had to move in with relatives; and faced the real possibility of going to prison.
What needs to happen NOW: the Justice Department must turn over the full 302 to House and Senate investigating committees –- which have been asking for that but which have, of course, been refused it –- and everything else relating to their handling of Gen. Flynn, including any original, contemporaneous notes made by the two officials who questioned him. The DOJ would love to run out the clock on the House committees, which have only a few weeks left of Republican leadership. As Jerrold Nadler has very openly said, once Democrats take control of the House in January, they’re immediately shutting down all non-Trump-related investigations.
Now, there’s a “government shut-down” we should all be concerned about.
This has just gone too far. When Trump’s political opponents decided that all the rules were out the window in their quest to get keep him out of office and, later, to depose him, it started taking America down. The Constitution is considered to be collateral damage; hey, these people didn’t think much of it, anyway. They reference it only when doing so suits their purposes and ignore it when it doesn’t. This set-up really does compare to something that would happen in a banana republic, not in America, and certainly not to a revered three-star general with over 30 years of service to his country.
This story is being overshadowed right now by the Michael Cohen sentencing, because that story (unlike this one) is something the anti-Trump media can have a heyday with. But it’s bubbling beneath the surface and will not go away. Expect updates as we learn more.
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