Michael Flynn-Victim or Villain?

The Michael Flynn case has been a lightning rod for controversy with both sides calling foul play.  The Republicans say that Flynn is a victim of a Deep State frame-up and an Obama campaign against his eflynnnemies. The Democrats say Flynn is a villain and that the Justice Department’s decision to drop the case is an instance of Trump using undo influence to release a crony who plead guilty.

The following lays out the key facts in the Michael Flynn case.

 

Timeline of Key Events

August, 2014

Flynn was the director of intelligence for the Joint Special Operations Command in Afghanistan.  He was the leader in charge of fighting Al Quaeda and the Taliban.  Flynn publicly strongly disagreed with the Obama Administration’s statements that Al Quaeda was defeated following the death of Osama bin Laden, and he was a harsh critic of the Iran deal.  Obama fired Flynn.  It is a matter of speculation as to how much the firing was related to political differences and how much was related to job performance.

February 2016

Flynn joins the Trump campaign.  He often speaks before Trump at his rallies.

Summer 2016

The FBI begins investigating Flynn, supposedly because of his Russian contacts.

November 2016

Trump wins and appoints Flynn as his National Security Advisor.

December 29, 2016

Obama announced that as retaliation for Russian efforts to influence the 2016 elections he was expelling 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the United States.  He was also imposing sanctions on Russia’s two leading intelligence services.

Russian Ambassador Kislyak calls Flynn who is vacationing in the Caribbean to discuss this.   Flynn asks Kislyak that Russia not escalate the situation.  The transcript of this call was just released.  I will excerpt the key part of this conversation later.

December 31, 2016

Kislyak calls Flynn to tell him that Russia has decided not to escalate.

January 4, 2017

The FBI Washington Field Office informs the intelligence community that they are closing the investigation of Flynn because they could not find any evidence he did anything wrong.  FBI Assistant Director Peter Strzok responds telling them not to close it.

January 5, 2017

There is a meeting at the White House to discuss the Michael Flynn investigation.  President Obama, Vice President Biden, CIA Director Brennan, National Intelligence Director Brennan, FBI Director Comey, Advisor Susan Rice, and Assistant Attorney General Yates are all present.  During this meeting they discuss using the Logan Act to go after Flynn.  The Logan Act, instituted in 1799,  states that a person cannot falsely claim to represent the United States government.    Flynn would not officially be in the government for three more weeks.  Nobody has ever been prosecuted under this act.  A recently released document by Yates states that he asked her to stay behind and that Obama himself personally briefed her on the Flynn investigation.  She had known nothing about it and was surprised at Obama’s involvement

January 23,24 2017

The FBI decides to spring a trap on Flynn.  A recently released handwritten note summarizing the meeting by FBI Agent stated Bill Prestap includes  “”What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”

January 24, 2017

Deputy FBI Director McCabe calls Flynn and asks if some agents can talk with him.  McCabe tells Flynn it is “no big deal.”” The FBI interviews Flynn. They never tell him that he is under investigation.  Subsequently, the FBI says that Flynn lied to them when he said he didn’t discuss sanctions with Kislyak.

February 13, 2017

Flynn resigns as National Security Advisor after Pence stated that Flynn lied when he told him that he did not discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador.

May 17, 2017

The Mueller investigation begins.  Flynn is one of the targets.

December 1, 2017

Legal fees have bankrupted Flynn.  He has had to sell his house.  The FBI has told him they will prosecute his son if he doesn’t plead guilty.  He finally pleads guilty to lying to the FBI.

April , May 2018

Testimony from the House Intelligence Committee was released saying that Comey testified that the FBI agents who interviewed Comey did not think that Flynn was lying.  In response, Comey states that he was misunderstood.

December, 2018

Flynn fires his old attorneys and hires Sidney Powell to represent him.  Powell states that Flynn’s previous law firm, which has former Attorney General Eric Holder as a partner, gave him inadequate representation.  She begins efforts to reverse the guilty plea stating that the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence.

May ,2020

Many documents pertaining to the Flynn case are finally provided to the defense team.  The justice department files a motion stating that the prosecution was improper and asking for the case to be dismissed.

June 23, 2020

The justice department turned over a handwritten note from Peter Strzok from what the department says is January 3 to January 5, 2017.  Strzok was reportedly not at the key January 5 meeting so it is unclear where he got his information.  As Strzok repeatedly showed through many texts that he is an anti-Trump zealot, one can presume his notes were not intended to help Trump.

These notes have three blockbuster pieces of information:

  • FBI director Jim Comey stated that Flynn’s phone call with Kislyak was “apparently legit.”
  • One note said “VP: Logan Act” implying that Biden was the one who raised the Logan Act as an issue.  Note that Biden previously said he knew nothing about the efforts to prosecute Flynn, so his being at the January meeting proves this was a definite lie.  His actively participating with ideas makes it even a bigger lie.
  • Another note said “P – Make sure you look at things + have the right people on it.”  Assuming that P is president, this means that Obama directed the FBI to go after Flynn.  It would be fairly easy for investigators to determine if Strzok used the “P” notation to refer to Obama in other notes. If so, Obama said this immediately after the FBI agents on the case decided to close the investigation on Flynn saying there was nothing there.

 

Transcript of December 29 Call

The transcript of the key December 29 call between Flynn and Kislyek has just been released.  Here is the key part of the conversation:

FLYNN: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I understand. Okay, um, okay. Listen, uh, a couple of things.

Number one, what I would ask you guys to do – and make sure you, make sure that you convey

this, okay? – do not, do not uh, allow this administration to box us in, right now, okay? Um –

KISLYAK: We have conveyed it. And –

FLYNN: Yeah.

KISLYAK: It’s, uh, ifs uh, very very specifically and transparently, openly.

FLYNN: So, you know, depending on, depending on what uh, actions they take over this current

issue of the cyber stuff, you know, where they’re looking like they’re gonna, they’re gonna

dismiss some number of Russians out of the country, I understand all that and I understand that~

that, you know, the information that they have and all that, but what I would ask Russia to do is

to not – is – is – if anything – because I know you have to have some sort of action – to, to only

make it reciprocal. Make it reciprocal. Don’t – don’t make it- don’t go any further than you

have to. Because I don’t want us to get into something that has to escalate, on a, you know, on a

tit for tat. You follow me, Ambassador?

KISLYAK: I understand what you’re saying~ but you know, you might appreciate the sentiments

that are raging now in Moscow.

FLYNN: I know, I – believe me, I do appreciate it, I very much appreciate it. But I really don’t

want us to get into a situation where we’re going, you know~ where we do this and then you do

something bigger, and then you know, everybody’s got to go back and forth and everybody’s got

to be the tough guy here, you know?  We don’t need to, we don’t need that right now, we need to- we need cool heads to

prevail, and uh, and we need to be very steady about what we’re going to do because we have

absolutely a common uh. threat in the Middle East right now

KISLYAK: We agree.

FLYNN: We have to eliminate this common threat.

KISLYAK: We agree. One of the problems among the measures that have been announced today

is that now FSB and GRU are sanctions, are sanctioned, and I ask myself, uh~ does it mean that

the United States isn’t willing to work on terrorist threats?

FLYNN: Yeah, yeah.

KISLYAK: Because that’s the people who are exactly, uh, fighting the terrorists.

FLYNN: Yeah, yeah, yep.

KISLYAK: So that’s something that we have to deal with. But I’ve heard what you say, and I

certainly will try·-

FLYNN: Yeah.

KISLYAK: – to get the people in Moscow to understand it.

FLYNN: And please make sure that its uh – the idea is, be – if you~ if you have to do something,

do something on a reciprocal basis, meaning you know, on a sort of an even basis. Then that,

then that is a good message and we’ll understand that message. And, and then, we know that

we’re not going to escalate this thing, where we~ where because if we put out- if we send out 30

guys and you send out 60, you know, or you shut down every Embassy, r mean we have to get

this to a -let’s keep this at a level that uh is, is even-keeled, okay? ls even-keeled. And

then what we can do is, when we come in, we can then have a better conversation about where,

where we’re gonna go, uh~ regarding uh, regarding our relationship. And also, basically we have

to take these, these enemies on that we have. And we definitely have a common enemy. You

have a problem with it, we have a problem with it in this country, and we definitely have a

problem with it in the Middle East.

FLYNN: And we have to, we have to do something about it. So, um

KISLYAK: General, I completely agree with you.

FLYNN: Yeah, yeah. So anyway. Okay?

KISLYAK: Thank you.

The first key thing to note here is that there was nothing inherently improper about the underlying conversation.  Flynn was just asking the Russians not to escalate the situation.  Second, Flynn was talking about expulsions.  In the middle, Kislyak does mention sanctions, but Flynn responds with nothing more than “Yeah, yeah”.  He then goes on to talk more about expulsions, “if we send out 30 guys and you send out 60…”

Based on this actual transcript, is it unreasonable for Flynn to say to the FBI four weeks later that he didn’t recall discussing sanctions.  Is this clear grounds for criminal prosecution?

As a side note, the December 31 call which was also cited by the prosecution did not mention sanctions at all.

And now we know that Comey said the call “appears legit.”

These transcripts were not made available to Flynn’s defense.

The FBI 302 Report

After an interview, the FBI routinely files a “302” report where the agents write up the results of the interview.  Typically, this is completed right away, at most within a few days.

Here are some highly unusual things about the report on the interview with Flynn:

  • The final report was not submitted until three weeks after the interview.
  • The original version of the 302 report is “missing”.  Why would such a key document in such a high profile case be missing?
  • The subsequent reports went through many rounds of editing.
  • The first version that is not missing has no mention of sanctions in it.  There is no mention that Flynn was asked about sanctions.
  • How can Flynn lie about sanctions when according to the FBI document, he was never asked about sanctions?

The Unmasking Controversy

One controversy relating to the Flynn case was that Obama officials made numerous requests to unmask Flynn,  The law states that the United States does not need a warrant to wiretap foreigners.  If the wiretap picks up a US citizen, then that citizen’s identity is masked.  If there are security concerns, then there can be a request to unmask that person.  For example, if a terrorist plot was overheard, the US citizen could then be unmasked,  Properly used, unmasking is a normal activity.

The key word here is proper.  Typically unmasking is done by security people such as the FBI and CIA.  In Flynn’s case some of the unmasking requests came from political people such as UN Ambassador Samantha Power, Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and even Joe Biden made requests to unmask Flynn. Why would they need to do that.

Perhaps the most interesting unmasking, is the unmasking that did not happen.  Flynn’s call was on December 29 and we know the call was discussed on January 5, but there were no unmasking requests for Flynn between those days.  How did they know about the conversation without the unmasking?  This is still an open question.

Obama’s Involvement

We now now definitively that Obama participated in the January 5, 1017 meeting where the FBI decided to pursue Trump.  Strzok’s notes indicate that Obama himself directed the FBI to go after Flynn.  Is there any doubt if Trump was found to send the FBI after a Democrat under these circumstances that Democrats, the media, and most likely Republicans would be calling for Trump’s impeachment.  Obviously Obama cannot be impeached now.  Should there be any consequences for this action?

Conclusion

Based on these facts, I cannot see how any reasonable person can conclude anything other than Michael Flynn was the innocent victim of a political persecution.  There is also strong evidence, which should prompt further investigation, showing that Obama directed this persecution and Biden participated in it.

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