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Tag: michael flynn

Nearly 2,000 former DOJ Employees Call on Barr to Resign for Moving to Drop Michael Flynn Case

AG William Barr in Detroit, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Nearly 2,000 former Justice Department employees on Monday urged Attorney General William Barr to resign in an open letter that says he “once against assaulted the rule of law” when he intervened in the case against Michael Flynn.

The decision to drop the prosecution of Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, was “extraordinarily rare, if not unprecedented.”

The letter, organized by the nonprofit Protect Democracy, also encourages Congress to censure Barr over “his repeated assaults on the rule of law in doing the President’s personal bidding rather than acting in the public interest.”

Ticklethewire.com was unable to immediately reach the Attorney General’s Office for comment Tuesday morning.

In February, Protect Democracy collected more than 2,600 signatures on a letter calling for Barr’s resignation for intervening in Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendation.

On Sunday, Mary McCord, former career Justice Department official, said Attorney General William Barr twisted her words to argue that former national security adviser Michael Flynn should not be prosecuted for lying to the FBI.

Former DOJ Official Claims Barr Twisted Her Words to Drop Charges Against Michael Flynn

Former acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary McCord.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Mary McCord, former career Justice Department official, said Attorney General William Barr twisted her words to argue that former national security adviser Michael Flynn should not be prosecuted for lying to the FBI.

McCord, who oversaw the early stages of the Russia investigation, said in a New York Times op-ed Sunday that the DOJ’s motion to dismiss the charges largely hinged on her account about what led up to the bureau’s interview with Flynn, who was President Trump’s first national security adviser.

“The account of my interview in 2017 doesn’t help the department support this conclusion, and it is disingenuous for the department to twist my words to suggest that it does,” McCord wrote. “What the account of my interview describes is a difference of opinion about what to do with the information that Mr. Flynn apparently had lied to the incoming vice president, Mr. Pence, and others in the incoming administration about whether he had discussed the Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia in his calls with (Russia’s then ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. Those apparent lies prompted Mr. Pence and others to convey inaccurate statements about the nature of the conversations in public news conferences and interviews.”

McCord acknowledged the FBI should have coordinated Flynn’s interview with the Justice Department, but said she does not believe the agencies lacked a reason to suspect Flynn may have violated crimes.

“It has no bearing on whether Mr. Flynn’s lies to the F.B.I. were material to the clear counterintelligence threat posed by the susceptible position Mr. Flynn put himself in when he told Mr. Pence and others in the new administration that he had not discussed the sanctions with Mr. Kislyak. The materiality is obvious,” she concluded.

McCord concluded, “In short, the report of my interview does not anywhere suggest that the FBI’s interview of Mr. Flynn was unconstitutional, unlawful or not “tethered” to any legitimate counterintelligence purpose.”

President Obama Says ‘Rule of Law is at Risk’ in Dismissal of Michael Flynn Case

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former President Barack Obama, who has tried to be low key and refrain from publicly criticizing President Donald Trump, said in a private conversation Friday with ex-members of his administration that the “rule of law is at risk” in the Michael Flynn case, Michael Isikoff of Yahoo! News reports.

Obama called the the Justice Department’s move to drop the charges against the former White House national security adviser unprecedented.

“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said in a web talk with members of the Obama Alumni Association.

“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”

Justice Department Moves to Drop Criminal Case Against Michael Flynn, Drawing Criticism

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department dropped its criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, citing documents detailing how FBI officials planned to handle a January 2017 interview with Flynn.

The decision to recommend that a judge dismiss the case drew immediate criticism from legal experts and Democrats, who raised serious questions about the motivations of the DOJ and Attorney General William Barr.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian diplomat and even cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.

In documents filed Thursday in federal court in Washington D.C., the Justice Department said, “The Government has concluded that the interview of Mr. Flynn was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn,” NBC News reports.

“The Government is not persuaded that the January 24, 2017 interview was conducted with a legitimate investigative basis and therefore does not believe Mr. Flynn’s statements were material even if untrue,” the filing said.

The decision follows the release of an internal review into the handling of the case. Flynn’s lawyers claimed the review shows Flynn had been entrapped into lying when FBI agents interviewed him.

Trump applauded the DOJ’s recommendation.

“I didn’t know that was happening at this moment. I felt it was going to happen just by watching and seeing like everybody else does,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

“He was an innocent man,” he said of Flynn. “He is a great gentleman.”

The move was “outrageous,” chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said.

“The evidence against General Flynn is overwhelming. He pleaded guilty to lying to investigators. And now a politicized and thoroughly corrupt Department of Justice is going to let the President’s crony simply walk away,” Nadler said in a statement.

Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, who responded to the DOJ’s actions by saying “This is not justice,” urged Justice Department lawyers not to resign.

“DOJ lawyers of integrity will be tempted to resign over today’s motion to dismiss the Flynn case,” McQuade tweeted. “My advice is to please stay. We need you instead of those who might replace you.”

The recommendation still needs to be approved by Judge Emmet Sullivan.

Stejskal: Why the FBI Was Right to Launch the Russia-Trump Probe and Investigate Flynn

The writer, an FBI agent for 31 years, retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office in 2006.

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com


Greg Stejskal: “When Flynn was interviewed, he did lie.”

I first met Bill Priestap (Edward William Priestap) in the mid-90s. I had been talking to University of Michigan football teams every Fall since 1982. I would bring along other agents and federal prosecutors, and we would talk about illegal sports gambling, drugs and other things that college players should avoid. Bill Priestap was head coach Lloyd Carr’s director of operations, responsible for arranging the FBI talks.

Bill and I became friends, and he expressed interest in becoming an FBI agent. He had a master’s degree in educational administration and business administration, and a law degree. He also had the experience of running a major college football program. I encouraged him to apply. 

He did and was accepted, entering duty in 1998. Bill opted to pursue administrative advancement and in 2015 became assistant director of counterintelligence at FBI HQ.

In July 2016, Bill Priestap faced probably the most consequential decision of his career. 

On July 22, Wikileaks released emails that had apparently been hacked from the Democratic National Committee, specifically from John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager. This resulted in the FBI initiating an investigation of the cyber intrusion of the DNC.

Five days later, the Australian government advised American intelligence services that in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a Trump presidential campaign advisor, had told the Australian High Commissioner to Britain that the Russian officials were in possession of politically damaging information relating to Hillary Clinton.


FBI Agent Bill Priestap

Presented with this information, Priestap authorized the opening of an investigation of possible Russian hacking and any connection to the Trump presidential campaign. The case was code-named Cross Fire Hurricane from the opening line in the Rolling Stones song, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” (The so-called Steele dossier played no role in the opening of the investigation. CFH investigators didn’t learn of the Steele dossier until September of that year.)

The FBI was careful not to make this investigation public, to avoid election influence. (Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal server for some emails involving Department of State business was already public information and was being investigated separately.)

Priestap continued to supervise the case. Following the election, the efforts of the Russian government to interfere and influence the election became public, and President Obama imposed significant sanctions on Russia.  

Michael Flynn and the Ambassador

Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, who had been a close campaign advisor to President Trump, was named to be national security advisor in the new administration. Flynn had several telephone conversations with Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, prior to the inauguration.

The substance of these calls was known to the FBI through established electronic surveillance of Kislyak. Among other things, Flynn asked Kislyak to advise the Russian government to not retaliate for the new sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. Flynn indicated that the sanctions would be mitigated by the Trump administration.


President Trump and Michael Flynn

When it became publicly known that Flynn had spoken with Kislyak prior to the inauguration, Vice President Pence made a public statement saying that Flynn had not discussed the Obama sanctions with Kislyak.  Apparently, Flynn had lied to Pence about his conversation with Kislyak. This was a big concern for the FBI and attorneys at the Department of Justice.

It was decided by Priestap and others in the FBI and DOJ that Flynn should be interviewed regarding his conversations with Kislyak. Any time an interview of this nature is contemplated, a pre-interview strategy is prepared. Priestap and others were involved in that strategy. 

Read more »

Trump Insists Newly Released FBI Documents Prove Michael Flynn Was Mistreated

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump insisted Thursday that newly released FBI notes “exonerated” Michael Flynn, reviving his conspiracy theories that federal authorities had schemed to bring down his national security adviser.

Trump seized on documents detailing how FBI officials planned to handle a January 2017 interview with Flynn, who was serving at Trump’s national security adviser at the time.

The documents indicated the FBI was preparing to close the case before top bureau officials made a last-minute reversal, The Washington Post reports. The documents don’t show why the reversal occurred.

Although Flynn eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian diplomat, Trump said the documents prove Flynn was treated unfairly.

“Look at what they did to the guy,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “What they did to this man, they tormented him.”

Trump later indicated he would “certainly consider” rehiring Flynn.

Legal experts say Flynn’s lawyers will have a tough time convincing a judge that he was entrapped.

“It is not a close call,” Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney who also served as FBI Director James Comey’s chief of staff, told The Washington Post. “In this situation, Flynn had three options: tell the truth, lie or refuse to talk. The FBI did not plant a lie, urge him to repeat the lie, record him in the lie, and then prosecute him for lying. That might be entrapment. Here, Flynn was predisposed to lie, chose to talk, and then lied. That’s not entrapment.”

Trump Says He’s ‘Strongly Considering’ Full Pardon for Michael Flynn, Citing ‘Lost’ Records

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump announced Sunday he’s “strongly considering” a “Full Pardon” for his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying the FBI and Justice Department lost some of his records.

“So now it is reported that, after destroying his life & the life of his wonderful family (and many others also), the FBI, working in conjunction with the Justice Department, has ‘lost’ the records of General Michael Flynn. How convenient,”Trump tweeted. “I am strongly considering a Full Pardon!”

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about interactions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. but has since tried to withdraw his plea. In January, federal prosecutors reversed course, calling for up to six months in prison for Flynn, saying he shows no signs of remorse after embracing a combative defense strategy.

The Justice Department initially suggested it was open to probation for Flynn, the only member of the Trump administration to plead guilty in the Robert Mueller investigation. At the time Flynn was cooperating with investigators. But after that, Flynn took a different course and tried in vein to get the case dismissed.

In September, Flynn’s lawyers claimed prosecutors were unable to produce an internal Justice Department memo that cleared Flynn of being a Russian agent. Prosecutors countered that the allegations were irrelevant because Flynn was not accused of being a Russian agent.

Trump offered no explanation of his claims that the FBI and Justice Department lost records.

Michael Flynn Wants to Withdraw His 2017 Guilty Plea in Mueller Probe

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn wants to withdraw his guilty plea to lying to the FBI during the special counsel investigation into Russian interference, his lawyers said in a court filing obtained by Reuters.

Flynn’s change of heart comes after federal prosecutors reversed course and called for up to six months in prison for Flynn, the only member of the Trump administration to plead guilty in the Robert Mueller probe.

The prosecutors called for the stiffer sentence after Flynn began arguing that prosecutors violated his rights.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about interactions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.