‘What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) The Justice Department’s release of new material from corrupt FBI agents blew open the agency’s plot to frame Gen. Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, in a perjury trap during the early days of the Trump administration.
The disclosure included handwritten notes, believed to be from former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Bill Priestap, and email correspondence from Priestap’s deputy, Peter Strzok, who was overseeing the field operations for the “Crossfire Hurricane” probe into Russian collusion.
Strzok’s secret lover, Lisa Page, who was one of the attorneys advising FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, was also among those included in the email chain, although several other names remained redacted.
In his notes, Priestap indicated that the FBI was “playing games” with Flynn during his January 2017 interrogation, according to Just the News.
He also openly questioned whether the FBI’s objective in pursuing the interview was ethically and legally sound.
“What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” said the notes.
Flynn, who was charged with lying to the FBI officials as part of the Mueller investigation, was due to be sentenced in February.
‘Playing Games’ with Justice
Flynn, a three-star general and lifelong Democrat who had served in the Obama administration, became embroiled in the FBI’s anti-Trump sting operation after taking phone calls from then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016, prior to Flynn’s official appointment as national security adviser for the incoming Trump administration.
Acting in an unofficial capacity, he sought to ease tensions after President Barack Obama belatedly expelled Russian diplomats and retroactively imposed sanctions for their alleged interference in the 2016 election.
Obama had avoided action prior to the election out of concern that it could undermine public confidence in a victory for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Flynn’s January 2017 interrogation itself was set up under false pretenses, with Strzok and others intending to surprise him by the line of questions about his contacts with the Russian diplomat.
In the newly released materials, in fact, Strzok appears to ask then-FBI General Counsel James Baker for legal advice on how to conduct the ruse should Flynn become suspicious or uncooperative during the interview.
Strzok debates with the lawyers how best to time the issuance of a Miranda Rights-style “admonition” and whether the agents doing the interrogating should read it at the start or wait until Flynn gave what they believed to be a false statement.
Priestap’s notes also discuss the apparent consensus that interrogators shouldn’t show evidence to Flynn.
The Conspiracy Unravels
Prior to the interrogation, the FBI not only knew of the call between Flynn and the Russian diplomat, but it likely also access to the full transcript due to its wiretapping of Trump campaign officials.
Yet, the circumstance surrounding the agency’s authorization to spy on Trump officials via the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has itself become the subject of tremendous scrutiny.
The FISA abuse revealed last December in a report by the DOJ inspector general returned to headlines after a recent revelation that Christopher Steele—whose now-discredited dossier provided the backbone, if not the only source, for the FBI surveillance warrants—had been deeply involved in a Russian disinformation campaign.
Declassified footnotes from the IG report further revealed that FBI officials (Strzok and Priestap) were aware of Steele’s credibility concerns prior to launching the operation but proceeded anyway.
Leading GOP senators, including powerful committee chairs Charles Grassley of Iowa, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have called for the Justice Department to release additional details about the role that the dubious dossier played in the probe.
Coincidentally, on Wednesday it was revealed that Steele recently testified in a British court saying he believed then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton—in addition to Susan Rice, Flynn’s immediate predecessor as national security adviser during the Obama administration—both were directly aware of his anti-Trump research in the summer of 2016.
Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee ultimately commissioned the dossier, using the left-wing firm Fusion GPS to convey it to top FBI officials via a back-door channel in the Justice Department.
During the ongoing British court case—brought by Russian oligarchs who allege they were libeled in the dossier—Steele also linked high-up State Department official Victoria Nuland in the deep-state smear campaign, Just the News reported.
So Many Questions…
Last week, after maintaining silence on social media for the past 31 months, Flynn tweeted out a declaration he had filed requesting to withdraw his former guilty plea over the allegations that he had violated the Foreign Agent Registration Act and had lied to FBI investigators.
Like the interrogation itself, in which Flynn was deliberately tricked into falsely incriminating himself, he said his original attorneys with the law firm of Covington and Burling had offered him bad counsel, leaving him unprepared for the case and then encouraging him to accept the original plea deal.
Another tweet on Wednesday from Flynn suggested that he was enjoying his freedom after the exculpatory revelations.
— General Flynn (@GenFlynn) April 29, 2020
The tweet’s image, panning from a thicket of green trees to an open sky with an American flag waving from it, seemed a fitting coda to the former national security adviser’s bit part in what history may deem one of the most disgraceful perversions of justice ever orchestrated by the U.S. intelligence community.
Flynn’s tweet—whether by design or not—seemed to mirror a March 2019 tweet from disgraced former FBI Director James Comey in the immediate aftermath of the Mueller Report‘s release, which showed Comey gazing upward in a copse of towering trees with the words “So many questions.”
So many questions. pic.twitter.com/66KaR52Kk8
— James Comey (@Comey) March 24, 2019
But one of the questions now lingering is precisely what the former director’s role was in engineering the setup.
Comey—the subject of his own inspector general investigation last year, which reported evidence of misconduct but stopped short of recommending prosecution—is known to have leaked classified memos of his early meetings with Trump for the express purpose of triggering the Mueller probe.
He publicly acknowledged that he was conducting his own intelligence assessment on Trump during a January 2017 meeting in which he told the president-elect about the salacious innuendo contained in the Steele Dossier. The dossier leaked to the media shortly thereafter.
During another meeting outlined in his memos, Comey said that Trump asked him to call off the FBI’s attack on Flynn.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump allegedly told Comey. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Comey used the statement to suggest publicly that Trump was trying to unduly influence the FBI’s investigation. But the exchange is now cast in a far more sinister light as Comey was likely aware of the calculated set-up that his agents were conducting.
Currently, “Justice Department officials are investigating whether Priestap’s notes were written in conjunction with meetings he had with top leaders” including Comey and McCabe reported Just the News.
Justice Department special prosecutor John Durham, who has overseen the far-reaching criminal probe into the origins of the Russia hoax and all related matters, is also said to be investigating how an illegal leak of Flynn’s conversation with the Russian emissary made it into the hands of a Washington Post reporter.
Attorney General Barr, meanwhile, has given recent signals that Durham’s investigation is nearing an end and that there may be indictments in the pipeline.