For those following the increasingly curious case against General Mike Flynn, events took another unusual turn yesterday as Special Counsel Robert Mueller -with agreement from all parties- filed a motion for a protective order to seal documents. These are documents compelled on behalf of the defense, by Judge Emmet Sullivan, prior to sentencing.
On November 30th, 2017, Mike Flynn signed a guilty plea; ostensibly admitting lying to investigators. The plea was accepted by Judge Ruben Contreras; who is also a FISA court judge. Six days later, December 7th, 2017, Judge Contreras “was recused” from the case without explanation. The case was reassigned to DC District Judge Emmet Sullivan.
The Contreras recusal always seemed sketchy. If the conflict existed on December 7th, wouldn’t that same conflict have existed on November 30th, 2017?
On December 12th, 2017, Judge Sullivan gave out a rather unusual set of instructions to Robert Mueller. The instructions included Sullivan telling Mueller to turn over to the Flynn defense anything that could be considered exculpatory:
[…] if the government has identified any information which is favorable to the defendant but which the government believes is not material, the government shall submit the material to the Court for in camera review. (link)
On January 31st, 2018, Robert Mueller requested a delay of sentencing pushing the sentencing phase into May of this year. And then yesterday, February 14th, 2018, Mueller asks for the information he is turning over to be sealed.
As Nick Falco points out on Twitter: “We haven’t seen text messages between Strzok-Page mentioning Flynn or around the time of Strzok-Flynn Interview on January 24, 2017. I’m sure Horowitz has the texts & has given them to the Mueller team. Starting today, Flynn will have access to this evidence for his defense.” … “Today’s Stipulated Motion gives the Flynn team access to ALL evidence, including the FD-302’s, as long as the evidence is kept secret.”
♦Going back to the 30,000 foot overview, the substance behind the application for the FISA Title-1 surveillance warrant is the eventual basis for the FBI’s surveillance of Mike Flynn.
That FISA application is now evidenced to have relied heavily upon the ‘Clinton-Steele Dossier‘; and with discoveries from the Devin Nunes memo, and Chuck Grassley memo, there is strong evidence of gross and intentional misrepresentation within the application.
That puts the spotlight back upon the FISA judge who approved the application despite the transparent flaws, political omissions and factual weaknesses. If Rudolph Contreras signed off on the Title-1 surveillance warrant, Judge Contreras is now in question.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has requested the FISA Application to be declassified by the DOJ. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has requested transcripts from the application hearing. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte -holding statutory oversight over the FISA court- has requested the actual FISA warrant and application (all documents).
Nunes and Goodlatte’s requests were made to presiding FISA Judge Rosemary Collyer.
Judge Collyer was the FISA judge who wrote the eye-opening 99-page opinion of the FISA abuses reported by NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers, DOJ National Security Division head John P Carlin, and FBI Director James Comey.
Coincidentally (or not) Judge Rosemary Collyer might have been the Presiding FISA Judge who -holding concerns over ongoing FISC revelations in late 2017- recused Rudolph Contreras from further contact with the Flynn case. The other option for a forced recusal would the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts.
As Clarice Feldman writes at American Thinker: “As the evidence mounts that the warrant was improperly granted, someone – perhaps the chief judge of the district – removed him from further participation in the case, likely because Contreras approved the warrant and its extension. If the warrant was improperly issued, all the evidence it garnered is tainted.”
This brightens the spotlight upon Judge Contreras and his involvement in the FISA Title-1 surveillance authority.
Additionally, if you think about when everything began to break out from the headlines it would be intellectually dishonest not to note all of the FBI conspiracy revelations happened immediately after Mike Flynn signed the guilty plea. The timing appears to show White Hats within the intelligence apparatus hitting back against the DOJ and FBI for perceived injustice against Flynn.
Regardless of how you view events there’s something about the use of the Clinton-Steele Dossier within the FISA application, and the subsequent approval therein, that doesn’t pass the proverbial sniff test. If Contreras was the authorizing judge; and it seems increasingly likely he was; this puts the judge in the center of the scandal.
What looks even worse for Contreras, amid the backdrop of a conspiracy of intent, is his direct relationship to former Attorney General Eric Holder, President Obama’s wingman:
2012 […] From 2006 until his appointment, Contreras was chief of the civil division in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington. He’s the third person to hold that job before being appointed to the D.C. court, joining Chief Judge Royce Lamberth and Judge John Bates.
Contreras began his career at Jones Day law firm after earning his J.D. in 1991. Gregory Shumaker, partner-in-charge of Jones Day’s Washington office, spoke yesterday about first meeting Contreras when Shumaker was running the firm’s summer associate program. He said Contreras had a gift for connecting with people, a skill that would serve him well on the bench.
In 1994, Contreras was hired by Eric Holder Jr., then the U.S. attorney for D.C., to join that office. Mark Nagle, vice president and general counsel for Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp. and Contreras’ predecessor as civil division chief, spoke about Contreras’ many victories, including his time leading the city’s Medicaid fraud unit. (read more)
In essence there’s a possibility Judge Contreras might have granted a little more leeway for the ideological endeavors of the DOJ given his prior personal and professional relationships. Was he willfully blind to the weakness and politics within the FISA application?
All of this is likely to come out as the outcry to release the FISA warrant gets stronger. Chairman Devin Nunes and Chairman Bob Goodlatte are directly asking the FISA court for information.
The Department of Justice will likely agree to more releases of investigative documents as IG Horowitz finishes his 14-month-long OIG investigation into the entire enterprise. The inspector general has been looking at the politicization, and subsequent weaponization, of the DOJ and FBI and his report will come out well in advance of the Flynn sentencing.