The defense team for Michael Flynn presents their sentencing memo [see here] to support the special counsel recommendation. However, within the memo the Flynn team smartly uses pre-approved (by Special Counsel) language to highlight how the FBI structured the set up Yes, Flynn’s lawyers had to get permission to write this:
The FBI knew the content of the Flynn call with Sergey Kislyak because they were listening in. The FBI were intercepting those communications. So when Pence said no-one had any contact on January 15th, the FBI crew IMMEDIATELY knew they had a bombshell issue to exploit.
We see the evidence of the FBI knowing they had an issue to exploit, and being very nervous about doing it, in the messages between Lisa Page and FBI Agent Peter Strzok who would end up doing the questioning of Flynn.
The day before the Flynn interview:
♦January 23, 2017, the day before the Flynn interview, Peter Strzok says: “I can feel my heart beating harder, I’m so stressed about all the ways THIS has the potential to go fully off the rails.” Weird!
♦Page replies: “I know. I just talked with John, we’re getting together as soon as I get in to finish that write up for Andy (MCCABE) this morning.” Page agrees with Strzok about being stressed that “THIS” could go off the rails… (Strzok’s meeting w Flynn the next day)
Why would Page & Strzok be stressed about “THIS” potentially going off the rails? The answer is simple: they knew the content of the phone call between Mike Flynn and Sergey Kislyak because they were listening in, and they were about to exploit the Pence statement to CBS. That’s why they were so nervous. They were planning and plotting with Andrew McCabe about how they were going to exploit the phone-tap.
I’m not convinced that Flynn lied. There’s a good possibility Flynn was honest but his honesty contradicted Pence’s national statement on CBS; and he likely tried to dance through a needle without being overly critical of VP-elect Pence misspeaking. Remember, the alternative, if Flynn is brutally honest, is for the media to run with a narrative about Vice-President Pence is now a national liar in the media.
That’s why the issue of how the FBI interviewers write the 302 summary of the interview becomes such an important facet. We see that dynamic again playing out in the messages between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok with Andrew McCabe providing the guidance.
♦February 14th, 2017, text messages – here is a note about the FBI reports filed from the Flynn interview. Peter Strzok asks Lisa Page if FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is OK with his report: “Also, is Andy good with F-302?”
Lisa Page replies: “Launch on F 302”.
That would be Flynn’s 302. The FBI interpretation of the Flynn interview, is now the way the FBI can control the interview content…. and, specifically because the only recourse Flynn would have to contradict that FBI interpretation would be to compromise the Vice President… Flynn cannot challenge the structure of the narrative within the 302 outline.
See what happened?
It is important to note the operational DOJ and FBI never pursued Flynn. It was the special counsel, Robert Mueller’s group, who targeted Flynn with instructions and support from Rod Rosenstein.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in later effort to help the scheme team cover-up the entire surveillance operation, charged Flynn (full pdf) with falsely telling FBI agents that he did not ask the ambassador “to refrain from escalating the situation” in response to the sanctions.
According to the plea, while being questioned by FBI agents on January 24, 2017, Flynn also lied when he claimed he could not recall a subsequent conversation with Kislyak, in which the ambassador told Flynn that the Putin regime had “chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of [Flynn’s] request.”
Furthermore, a week before the sanctions were imposed, Flynn had also spoken to Kislyak, asking the ambassador to delay or defeat a vote on a pending United Nations resolution.
The criminal complaint charges Flynn lied to the FBI by denying both that he’d made this request and that he’d spoken afterward with Kislyak about Russia’s response to it.
There was nothing wrong with the incoming national-security adviser’s having meetings with foreign counterparts or discussing such matters as the sanctions in those meetings.
However, lying to the FBI -or McCabe structuring the FBI position of the 302’s to give the appearance of Flynn lying- is the process crime that led to Flynn’s admissions.