The political prosecution of Lt. General Michael Flynn began on January 24, 2017, just the second business day following the inauguration of Donald Trump. He was set up by then FBI Director James Comey and his second in command, Andrew McCabe.
They sent two FBI agents, Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, to conduct what McCabe said was part of “an FBI training session.” The training session was obviously real-time practice on how to get a high ranking Trump official to perjure himself.
One of these two wasn’t just any FBI agent. Peter Strzok was the No. 2 official in the FBI’s counterintelligence division before joining Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators. Strzok became famous last year after he was fired by Mueller after the publication of his strongly anti-Trump texts to his extramarital girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
But Peter Strzok’s fingers have extended far beyond his affair with Ms. Page. He was also the agent who questioned Hillary Clinton in July 2016 about the cavalier treatment of classified information in her possession. He also apparently edited the summary report for Comey of the Clinton interview mitigating the former director’s words (well in advance of the actual July interview) to absolve Clinton’s guilt of any federal crime.
It is the same Peter Strzok who assured Ms. Page that he would have an “insurance policy” in the event Trump was actually elected president.
The plan to nail Flynn was apparently conceived by James Comey, or he at least takes credit for it now. On MSNBC this week, when asked how FBI agents ended up in the White House questioning the National Security Advisor, Comey told Nicole Wallace, “”I sent them. … I probably wouldn’t have done or maybe gotten away with in a more organized investigation, a more organized administration. …I thought, ‘It’s early enough, let’s just send a couple of guys over.'”
Just consider the coordinated deception and effort that went into this attack on General Flynn though they suspected him of committing no crime.
Comey correctly thought that he could do an end run around the White House counsel’s office that would surely not have permitted such a meeting without an attorney being present. Comey rightly guessed that with Trump being a Washington outsider and new to the political arena, his new administration wouldn’t yet have their guard up completely. Combine this accurate belief along with McCabe’s lie that the agents were there for a “training session” and the trap was ready to go.
The first public act Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was to throw his fury at Comey for the underhanded mission. Rosenstein said Comey had “violated longstanding Justice Department policies and tradition…” It was clearly an unapologetic, rogue action by the top people at the FBI.
Such DOJ protocols are in place because the department knows that the FBI is a tremendously powerful organization and can’t have its leaders or agents acting improperly or more importantly, taking actions or conducting investigations based on their personal political desires. It is another necessary layer of vigilance against the possibility of a (unlikely but frightening) rogue or runaway FBI.
What is ironic is that the highly partisan Peter Strzok didn’t even think Flynn lied to them. Recently Comey and the Mueller team have been trying to downplay the original belief by the agents that Flynn intended to be truthful.
Last April as Comey appeared on Fox News’ Special Report, Bret Baier asked him, “”Did you tell lawmakers that FBI agents didn’t believe former national security adviser Michael Flynn was lying intentionally to investigators?”
Comey replied, “No. I didn’t believe that and didn’t say that.” He repeated the denial to Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press.
On Friday, December 7 at a House Judiciary hearing, Rep. Trey Gowdy asked Comey if the agents who interviewed Flynn had believed that Flynn had not been intentionally deceptive, Comey replied that was not the case. Gowdy then asked Comey if he had ever given a different answer in testimony. Comey denied that as well.
But the former director may have some future trouble of his own. His recent testimony is 180 degrees opposite of what he testified to the House Intelligence Committee in March 2017, shortly after the trap on Flynn but two months prior to Mueller being appointed.
Comey at that time said (under oath), “…the agents . . . discerned no physical indications of deception. They didn’t see any change in posture, in tone, in inflection, in eye contact. They saw nothing that indicated to them that he knew he was lying to them.”
McCabe likewise confirmed that the agents didn’t believe Flynn was trying to be deceptive according to the Intelligence Committee’s report. It said McCabe “‘confirmed the interviewing agent’s initial impression and stated that the ‘conundrum that we faced on their return from the interview is that although [the agents] didn’t detect deception in the statements that he made in the interview . . . the statements were inconsistent with our understanding of the conversation that he had actually had with the ambassador.’”
Subsequently, all three of the key players in this set-up were fired. Trump fired Comey, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe and Mueller fired Strzok.
The FBI’s FD-302 (interview) summaries were submitted to U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Monday (Dec. 17) night and appear to show a tale of two different interpretations on Flynn’s veracity. It looks like the FBI may not have even prosecuted this anemic crime had Robert Mueller not been appointed Special Counsel in May 2017. After the appointment, the FBI and prosecutors hardened their positions. This is clearly evident with Comey’s contradictory testimonies as well.
Today at his sentencing hearing, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn repeatedly told Judge Sullivan that he did not want to retract his guilty plea. Sullivan gave him ample opportunity to do so and almost appeared annoyed when Flynn did not.
For whatever reason, Flynn has stuck with his plea deal with the special prosecutor. Perhaps we’ll know in the future whether it was due to him being truly penitent, fearful of additional charges or simply out of money for defense counsel. Or it could have been all of the above.
The judge spared no words in condemning Flynn for not being truthful with FBI agents but made an astonishing error for a federal judge when he told Flynn, “You were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security adviser to the president. … Arguably, this undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably, you sold your country out.”
Sullivan was referring to Flynn’s time as a lobbyist for Turkey. But Flynn resigned that position when Trump picked him to be National Security Advisor soon after the November 2016 election. Even the prosecutors told the judge that this was not true; that there was no consideration of treason and that the judge should correct the record.
Sullivan did so but his erroneous reprimand of “you sold your country out” has already been picked up as the headline of choice by a mostly dishonest news media.
Lt. General Flynn’s sentencing hearing was postponed until March 2019. This was not good news for him as he likely expected to plead guilty today, be done with it and move on with his life. But he’ll at least have another 90 days of legal fees to deal with along with the real possibility of jail time.
In any event, the impact on Flynn and his family has been grim. A source close to the family said Flynn is now close to nearly $3 million in legal debt and has already sold his Alexandria, VA town home along with his car.
So this nauseating period in American history continues. Lt. General Michael Flynn, an Army Ranger who served for over three decades has been caught up in a much grander mission.
The overarching goal of this entire episode has been to send a strong message to outsiders: the next time some billionaire decides he wants to run for president, all those around him or riding his coattails better prepare to pay a heavy price as the Deep State will absolutely extract its pound of flesh.
So beware to all who naively try to invade the exclusive domain of the ruling class — sadly, even to America’s true heroes.