Michael Flynn departs a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., December 1, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Newly released documents in the Michael Flynn case include a January 2017 DOJ draft memo that states “FBI leadership” decided against showing Flynn transcripts of his calls with the Russian ambassador in the White House interview that led to his guilty plea.
The DOJ document, dated January 30, 2017 — along with a batch of handwritten notes from DOJ and FBI officials describing Flynn’s White House interview with former FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI agent Joseph Pientka on January 24, 2017 — shed further light on the FBI’s spontaneous interview with Flynn, who had just begun his role as national-security adviser for President Trump.
“FBI advised that based on this interview, they did not believe General Flynn was acting as an age of Russia,” the DOJ draft document, which is heavily redacted, states. “FBI also advised that although they recognized the statements were inconsistent with the FISA collection, they believed that Flynn believed what he was telling them. FBI did not confront Flynn with the communications during the interview.”
The document explains that while the Bureau “prompted Flynn with language used during the call,” Flynn was not shown his actual words because of a decision “made by FBI leadership not to confront Flynn with the actual tech cuts.”
The mentioning of “tech cuts” about the interview’s subject matter — Flynn’s December 2016 conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak — adds further context to the questions over how Flynn’s calls were monitored in the first place. “Tech cuts” are commonly referred to as internal FBI documents that contain and describe FISA intelligence, suggesting that the FBI picked up Flynn’s calls through FISA surveillance. DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz has said his office found no evidence of a FISA application on Flynn, raising the possibility that Flynn’s calls with Kislyak were picked up through FISA surveillance of the Russians.
In texts between Strzok and then-DOJ lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, Strzok references the cuts that the Bureau had obtained of Flynn’s calls, saying that then-FBI Assistant Director Bill Priestap was concerned with “sharing” information on Flynn — dubbed Crossfire Razor, or “CR” for short — with the Obama White House.
“He, like us, is concerned with over sharing,” Strzok texted Page on January 3, 2017, according to a transcript obtained by John Solomon. “Doesn’t want Clapper giving CR cuts to WH. All political, just shows our hand and potentially makes enemies.”
In April, unsealed documents from the Flynn investigation showed that Flynn was investigated in a case predicated by the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” probe of the 2016 Trump campaign, but the Bureau moved to close the investigation on January 4, 2017, after an “absence of any derogatory information” about Flynn’s Russian contacts. Strzok then intervened to keep the case open, explaining that “7th floor involved” — referencing the floor in Bureau headquarters that houses senior FBI leadership.
Transcripts of Flynn’s calls with Kislyak were released in May, showing that Flynn never mentioned “sanctions” and asked Russia not to “escalate” after the Obama administration sanctioned the Kremlin for election interference.
Flynn released the documents in a Friday court filing after they were handed over to his defense team by the Justice Department this week. Flynn is currently locked in a battle with U.S. District Court judge Emmet Sullivan, who has so far refused to drop Flynn’s guilty plea despite the DOJ’s move to withdraw its case, citing previously undisclosed exculpatory information.
“In short, there was no crime for many reasons,” Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell wrote of the new information. “These documents were known to exist at the highest levels of the Justice Department and by Special Counsel, yet they were hidden from the defense for three years.”
On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered Powell and the DOJ to respond within 10 days to Judge Sullivan’s Thursday “en banc” petition for Flynn’s case to be heard by the full appeals court. A panel for the D.C. Circuit has already ruled that Sullivan must dismiss the case.
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