Yesterday I noted that the world is still turning while we’re focused on the coronavirus and that important news is breaking now on the ‘deep state,’ particularly in the government’s case against Michael Flynn. I praised President Trump for saying he was “strongly considering” a full pardon for Flynn. When the President tweeted that, he likely had in mind the evidence that investigative reporter John Solomon has just made public.
As you know, Flynn was pressured into pleading guilty to lying to investigators when even his questioners had reported they hadn’t seen any sign of intentional deception. For months, Flynn’s defense attorney Sidney Powell has filed brief after brief, trying to get presiding Judge Emmet Sullivan to accept the withdrawal of his plea. I can’t imagine, with all the evidence he has now, that any judge would refuse to do that, but as you’ll see below, this one might.
The documents described by Solomon, specifically notes from testimony of DOJ officials before the special counsel that were included in a letter to Flynn’s lawyers in 2018, show that there was internal concern about how the investigation of Flynn was being conducted. Suspicions that it was all a set-up –- apparently led by then-FBI Director James Comey –- are looking more and more on the mark.
This correspondence confirms Solomon’s earlier reports –- labeled “opinion” by his editors, though he has presented well-sourced information and is repeatedly proven right –- that Mueller’s team accepted Flynn’s plea of guilty to lying about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak even though his interrogators had told the DOJ they didn’t think he was lying and simply had a faulty memory. Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates told the Mueller team that the FBI had briefed her on this and said the agents had characterized Flynn as “very accommodating.” (I would add that the man no doubt welcomed them into his office and never called a lawyer because he had no idea he was being set up.) She told them she was briefed that Flynn denied having a conversation about sanctions but that when nudged at one point, he’d said something like, ‘Oh, thanks for reminding me.”
Yates didn’t speak directly to Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, the interviewing agents, but was told that their assessment was that Flynn showed no “tells” of lying and it was possible he really did not remember the substance of his calls with Ambassador Kislyak.
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And there it is. MAYBE HE JUST DIDN’T REMEMBER. And for that, the FBI and special counsel pursued him ruthlessly in court, bankrupting him, forcing him to sell his house to pay attorneys and threatening to investigate his family, until he was simply tapped out and pleaded guilty to lying. (He had different representation at the time; perhaps this was their advice to him.) But it seems to have been over essentially NOTHING. Just on this point alone, Flynn deserves a full pardon from President Trump. But wait, there’s more.
Was this an “ambush interview,” as Solomon’s earlier reports have suggested? Well, yes. We already have Comey admitting as much on video; recall his public bragging that he just sent a couple of guys over to the White House to make it look casual. And now we have actual documentation. This correspondence relates former acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord’s concern, as expressed to Mueller’s team, that FBI agents didn’t tell Flynn he was under investigation and didn’t give him the usual notification that he could be charged with a crime if he misled the agents.
McCord told the Mueller team her understanding was that Flynn was being investigated to determine whether he had a clandestine relationship with Russia. But by January 30, 2017, the FBI had concluded that they did not believe he did, and had sent a memo to that effect to senior DOJ officials.
Recall that it was Sally Yates who had first brought up the ludicrous idea that Flynn might have violated the Logan Act (conducting foreign policy as a private citizen, a centuries-old law under which NO ONE had ever been successfully prosecuted). That concern was leaked to the news media, and this put pressure on Flynn to resign his new post as national security adviser, which he did.
Yet these newly-obtained documents show that there was internal dispute over whether or not a charge of violating the Logan Act was appropriate. According to the Mueller summary, “McCord said that upon learning of Flynn’s phone calls with Ambassador Kislyak, a Logan Act prosecution seemed like a stretch to her.” And it was. Not only was the Logan Act rarely even invoked, but Flynn wasn’t just a private citizen --- he was the incoming national security adviser! Of course he would be speaking in that capacity with the ambassador.
Even former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe affirmed the accounts by McCord and Yates in his own interview with the special counsel. “McCabe and then-acting assistant Attorney General Mary McCord had many subsequent discussions about the Logan Act,” the memo said. “They believed prosecuting a Logan Act violation was a long shot.”
From the Mueller memo: “According to McCabe, after the January 24 interview with Flynn, the interviewing agents returned to the FBI and briefed McCabe. The agents believed Flynn seemed very credible in his interview. Everyone in the room thought it was amazing that the agents believed that Flynn seemed credible since he denied something that everyone else knew to be true.” (Note: they knew it to be true because they had been listening in on his phone calls with foreign officials. And, with his background in intel, he knew they had been listening. So why on earth would he intentionally try to fool them?)
One reason Trump tweeted about pardoning Flynn is that the FBI now claims the original 302s (interview notes with Flynn), which evidence shows may have been altered by Lisa Page, have been “LOST.” The DOJ told Judge Sullivan that the 302s were “not in their possession,” which implies that they do exist...somewhere.
I don’t know what’s going on with this judge, but this was his response: “Things happen.”
If anyone ever deserved a pardon, it’s Michael Flynn.
Oh, and something else regarding "Russia": Remember when the Mueller team filed charges against a couple of Russian companies for financing efforts to use social media to “meddle” in the 2016 election? Perhaps the special counsel assumed Concord Management and Consulting and a related catering firm would just stay quiet, which would have let them avoid a trial while lending credence to the Trump/Russia “collusion” theory, but the companies denied the charges and resolved to fight back in court. And now, after all is said and done and the Mueller team found no evidence of “collusion” with the Trump campaign and the whole investigation is seen to have been a giant, politically-motivated waste of time, the Justice Department has dropped the case against them.
U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich issued a gag order in the case.