President Trump Pardons General Michael Flynn
In 2014, Michael Flynn was the US Army general in charge of the Pentagon?s Defense Intelligence Agency, and widely regarded as a respected military intelligence expert. Two years later, he was named as President-elect Donald Trump?s White House National Security Advisor.
Today, Flynn is a broken man. His reputation has been dragged through the mud. He was forced to resign in disgrace from his prestigious White House position and fought to defend himself over the past four years against a politically-instigated criminal prosecution that was really aimed at President Trump. As a result, Flynn?s means of earning livelihood as a world-class intelligence consultant has been destroyed and his finances have been bankrupted by the fees of his defense lawyers.
When Flynn was pardoned by President Trump last week, he was still awaiting sentencing in federal court for a crime he did not commit, but which he could not deny because he had been ensnared in a perjury trap engineered by senior FBI officials.
Trump announced on Twitter that, ?It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon.?
In a statement, Flynn?s family said it was ?grateful? to Trump ?for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation by removing the heavy burden of injustice off the shoulders of our brother Michael, with a full pardon of innocence.? Flynn?s lead defense lawyer, Ms. Sidney Powell, appeared on TV to thank Trump, but called the pardon ?bittersweet,? claiming that the justice system had failed to work properly for Flynn, who should never have been prosecuted.
But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) criticized the pardon, calling it ?undeserved, unprincipled, and one more stain on President Trump?s rapidly diminishing legacy.?
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, noted that ?there is no doubt that a president has broad power to confer pardons, but when they are deployed to insulate himself, his family, and his associates from criminal investigation, it is a corruption of the Framers? intent.?
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agreed, tweeting, ?This administration is corrupt to the core.?
Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel came to the opposite conclusion from the three Democrats, writing that ?Flynn?s pardon was necessary to correct a corrupt Federal Bureau of Investigation, a rogue special counsel, an unprincipled federal judge, and an embarrassingly complicit media.?
FORCED TO PLEAD GUILTY
On December 1, 2017, Flynn was forced to plead guilty in federal court to one count of ?willfully and knowingly? making ?false, fictitious and fraudulent statements? to two FBI investigators, under intense pressure from Special Counsel Robert Mueller?s prosecutors.
They had threatened to launch a criminal prosecution against Flynn?s adult son unless he agreed to the plea and give the prosecutors evidence they could use against President Trump. Flynn resisted, but in the end, he could not stand by and watch his son?s life be destroyed, along with his own.
In a statement at that time, Flynn said: ?It has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of ?treason? and other outrageous acts. Such false accusations are contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for. But I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in G-d, I am working to set things right. My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel?s Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions.?
In his original 2017 plea agreement, Flynn acknowledged lying in foreign-agent disclosure forms he filed with the federal government in which he claimed he did not know the extent of the Turkish government?s involvement in a contract his firm had obtained, a minor offense that is rarely prosecuted. Flynn also claimed that an op-ed he wrote encouraging the US government to expel a Muslim cleric living in exile in the United States, and who is viewed as an enemy by Turkey?s Islamic dictator, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was the result of his own initiative.
But in the three years since Flynn pled guilty, newly revealed evidence made it clear he was the victim of an investigation directed by top FBI officials and ruthless federal prosecutors, as well as a vicious media campaign blackening his reputation based upon anonymous sources. Their goal was to discredit Flynn personally, in revenge for his outspoken criticism of President Obama?s passive policies towards international Islamic terrorism. They also hoped that by destroying Flynn?s reputation, they could damage the credibility of the incoming Trump administration.
FLYNN?S LONG ORDEAL
Flynn?s ordeal began even before he assumed his job as the new White House National Security Advisor. His reputation was destroyed by leaks of classified information concerning a wiretapped phone call he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29, 2016, while on vacation abroad. Flynn told the ambassador that the Russian government should wait until Trump took office before reacting to sanctions that Obama announced the day before in retaliation for Russia?s meddling in the election.
The day after their conversation, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he would hold off on any retaliation against the sanctions that Obama had announced. Trump?s political enemies were quick to use media reports based upon misleading leaks from the wiretap to portray Flynn and Trump as, at best, stooges, and at worst, collaborators with Putin.
Even Flynn?s critics now acknowledge that his conversations with the Russian ambassador that day were innocent. They were part of a series of about 30 phone calls to foreign diplomats which had been assigned to Flynn as a routine part of his duties on the Trump transition team.
Before Flynn spoke to Kislyak, he had consulted with his deputy, K.T. McFarland, ?to discuss what, if anything, to communicate to the Russian ambassador about the US sanctions. McFarland informed Trump transition team members Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus that Flynn was going to talk to Kislyak, and was told that the Trump transition team wanted to avoid Russia escalating the situation.
According to the Mueller report, McFarland and Flynn ?both understood that Flynn would relay a message to Kislyak in hopes of making sure the situation would not get out of hand.? When Kislyak later informed Flynn that Russia would not retaliate for Obama?s sanctions, Flynn passed that information to senior members of the transition team.
WAS FLYNN SET UP BY OBAMA?S SANCTIONS?
Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino suggests that the Obama administration deliberately timed its new sanctions on Russia to maneuver Flynn into a conversation that would later turn out to be politically embarrassing.
Obama?s team had expected the announcement of the new sanctions to prompt Ambassador Kislyak to call Flynn to find out Trump intentions. They also knew that while on vacation in Dominican Republic, Flynn would have to use an open phone line which could be easily wiretapped. According to Bongino, the Obama team?s plan was to then interview Flynn and compare his answers to the transcript of the conversation in an effort to catch him ?in the smallest of lies and charge him with false statements [in order] to shut him down.?
TRYING TO DEFEND ISRAEL?S INTERESTS AT THE UN
Flynn?s phone calls to the 30 foreign diplomats were also part of an effort by the Trump transition team to block passage during the final days of Obama?s presidency of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlements in ?Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem? as illegal. Similar resolutions had been introduced in the Security Council by sworn enemies of Israel for many years, only to be routinely vetoed by the United States.
Egypt?s abrupt introduction of the resolution on Dec. 21, and the scheduling of a vote for the next day, took much of the Security Council, and the Obama administration, by surprise.
As Obama consulted with aides on the US vote, Israeli officials mobilized to head off passage. Trump?s position was the same as Israel?s: The resolution should be vetoed, Trump tweeted before dawn on Dec. 22.
That same day, Jared Kushner directed Flynn to contact foreign leaders, including from Russia, to urge them to oppose the resolution or at least delay it. Trump himself called Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to discuss the resolution, the Egyptians announced at the time.
At first, Trump?s gambit appeared to have worked. Just before the vote was to take place, Egypt withdrew the resolution. But by the next morning it had been reintroduced by New Zealand, reportedly at Obama?s personal request, and a vote was quickly held. Obama?s instruction to the US ambassador to the United Nations to abstain on the resolution, allowing it to pass, broke an understanding with Israel that went back to 1980 to block all anti-Israel resolutions at the UN. As a result, the resolution was adopted by a 14-0 vote.
Trump reacted by tweeting angrily, ?We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.?
However, Flynn?s faulty recall of his mention of Obama?s sanctions in the phone call with the Russian ambassador resulted in vice president-elect Mike Pence being embarrassed when he repeated what Flynn had told him in a broadcast interview. That undermined Flynn?s credibility in the White House and ultimately led to him being forced to resign as White House National Security Advisor on February 14, after just three weeks on the job.
FLYNN WAS AMBUSHED BY THE FBI
A review ordered by Attorney General Bill Barr in 2020 revealed how the FBI had ambushed Flynn at his White House office on January 24, 2017, his first full day on the job as Trump?s national security advisor. Two FBI investigators asked Flynn about the phone call with the Russian ambassador while surreptitiously checking his answers against the transcript of the call.
Flynn?s interview had been set up by a phone call from FBI director James Comey?s deputy, Andrew McCabe, who told Flynn that the agents would drop by for an informal discussion of other matters. Flynn was unprepared for their questions about his conversation with Kislyak and did not have a White House lawyer present to protect his legal rights during the interview. The two agents also failed to give Flynn the standard warning about the true nature of their interview and the fact that Flynn could be prosecuted for any false statement that he made. Caught in a classic perjury trap, Flynn failed to recall some of the details in the transcript, leaving him subject to criminal charges for lying to federal investigators.
Caught in the perjury trap, Flynn was subjected to intense pressure ? first by the FBI, and then by Special Counsel Robert Mueller?s prosecutors ? to turn against President Trump. When he resisted, prosecutors gave him an ultimatum. If he cooperated by producing evidence they could use against Trump, he would be sentenced to little or no jail time, but if he didn?t cooperate, they would recommend a lengthy jail term and prosecute his adult son on criminal charges related to their jointly-owned intelligence consulting business.
Bankrupted by huge legal defense bills, and desperate to protect his son, Flynn had no choice. He pled guilty in federal court to one count of lying to investigators in return for a reduced sentence. But even though Flynn did give Mueller?s team inside information about the activities of the Trump campaign, he never offered prosecutors the incriminating evidence they wanted to prove that Trump or members of his campaign colluded with the Russians. That is why Trump still considers Flynn to be his friend, and pardoned him last week after a federal judge refused to allow Flynn to dismiss the case despite the ambush interview and other serious errors committed by the prosecutors.
FLYNN?S CLASHES WITH OBAMA OVER TERRORISM AND IRAN
By the end of his distinguished 33-year military career, Flynn was considered to be the Pentagon?s senior counter-terrorism intelligence expert. He had been in charge of developing the counterterrorism strategy for dismantling the terrorist networks in Afghanistan and Iraq, but after two years as Director of the Pentagon?s Defense Intelligence Agency, he was forced to resign because of his criticism of Obama?s weak response to growing threats from Islamic terrorism.
Flynn disagreed with Obama?s tolerance for terrorist groups which took over the armed opposition to the Assad regime after Obama refused to support the pro-democracy opposition groups which started the Syrian civil war. Flynn was also opposed to Obama?s determination to finalize a nuclear deal with Iran at almost any price. He also dismissed Obama?s 2012 reelection campaign boast that after the assassination of Osama bin Laden, his administration had al Qaeda ?on the run.?
The globalist policymakers who dominated the Obama White House saw Flynn?s criticisms as a threat to Obama?s foreign policy legacy. They circulated stories to the media claiming that Flynn was forced to resign as head of the DIA because he was ?abusive with staff, didn?t listen, worked against policy, [and] had bad management policies.? They also told the New York Times that Flynn had ?a loose relationship with the truth.?
While his opponents succeeded in forcing him out, Flynn refused to leave quietly. In his final media interview as DIA director, he said that was the only person in the Obama administration who understood that the United States was less safe from the threat of Islamic terrorism in 2014 than it was just prior to the 9/11 attacks, and that the leaders of the Obama administration ?did not want to hear the truth? about the terrorist threat.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Flynn said Obama?s initial refusal to provide military support for the pro-democracy Syrian moderates had enabled terrorist groups such as Al-Nusra to gain control of the opposition forces to Assad, and created the conditions which enabled ISIS to develop into a new menace to the entire region.
When the 2016 presidential primary cycle began, Flynn was a national security consultant to several of the GOP candidates. In a November 2015 appearance on Fox News, Flynn called for an investigation into allegations that the US intelligence community had been pressured to downgrade the threat posed by ISIS, and recommended that it ?start right at the top? of the Obama administration.
Soon after joining the Trump campaign in February 2016, Flynn became one of its most effective surrogates at campaign rallies. He was known for his blistering attacks on Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, leading the crowd in its chants of ?Lock her up.?
FLYNN BECAME A CONVENIENT TARGET FOR REVENGE
Flynn became a key member of Trump?s inner circle, and was considered at one point for the vice-presidential nomination. His fiery keynote speech on the first night of the 2016 GOP national convention gained widespread attention. ?We are tired of Obama?s empty speeches and his misguided rhetoric. This has caused the world to have no respect for America?s word, nor does it fear our might,? Flynn declared.
As Trump?s most credible national security advisor, after the election, Flynn became a convenient target for the revenge of frustrated Obama and Clinton supporters within the FBI, the Justice Department, and the mainstream media.
Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway noted that Flynn had been targeted by President Obama himself in his traditional post-election meeting with President-elect Trump. ?I will remind everybody that President Obama told President-elect Donald Trump he had two things to worry about, North Korea and Michael Flynn!? Conway recalled.
FLYNN?S INVESTIGATION WAS ALMOST CLOSED
It was also revealed that the FBI was ready to close its original investigation of Flynn on January 4, 2017, for lack of evidence. The original FBI team investigating the Trump-Russia conspiracy, led by the senior case agent William Barnett, had done an exhaustive check on Flynn?s alleged ties to the Russians.
In its closing document, the team declared it had turned up ?no derogatory information? against Flynn who ?was no longer a viable candidate? for investigation. Barnett would later say that he became so frustrated at his FBI superiors for refusing to accept his urging to close the investigation that he asked to be transferred to another case.
But the same day that memo was written, FBI investigator Peter Strzok sent a text to his colleagues, saying, ?Hey, if you haven?t closed Crossfire Razor [the FBI code name for the Flynn investigation], don?t do so yet.? Strzok explained that the ?seventh floor was involved,? referring to the executive suite at FBI headquarters containing the offices of Comey and McCabe.
THE PLOT IN OBAMA?S OVAL OFFICE
Strzok sent that text message the day before a crucial meeting in President Obama?s Oval office.
All the senior members of the administration were present, including Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, deputy?Attorney General Sally Yates, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, as well as the national security agency heads, including Jim Comey. Based upon cryptic notes written by Rice and Strzok, the January 5 meeting appears to have been a planning session to map out the strategy for the Democrat resistance movement after Trump was to take office. Flynn?s conversation with Kislyak was also part of that conversation, including a mention by Biden that Flynn might have violated the obsolete and never-enforced Logan act.
Less than three weeks later, Comey, McCabe and former assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestab set up the ambush interview with Flynn as part of the larger effort to discredit and cripple Trump?s presidency from the start.
Another recently surfaced document in Priestab?s handwriting reveals his doubts at the time about the ambush interview of Flynn. Priestab asks, ?What?s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired??
Two days after the ambush interview, acting attorney general Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, asked for an interview with Trump?s White House Counsel, Don McGahn, to tell him that Flynn had ?compromised? himself by not being fully truthful with Pence about his phone conversation with the Russian ambassador. Yates warned McGahn that Flynn was a security risk because he could be blackmailed by the Russians who also knew what Flynn had told their ambassador.
President Trump fired Yates four days later, on January 30, when she refused to order Justice Department lawyers to defend Trump?s executive order barring entry to travelers arriving at US ports of entry from seven terrorist-infested countries.
THE IRAN CONNECTION
Fox News reported that Obama?s CIA director John Brennan, his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and his Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes, were probably the former Obama administration officials most responsible for the leaks to the media about Flynn?s phone call with the Russian ambassador. It has been suggested that Flynn was also targeted to prevent him from disclosing the secret side deals that Obama had made with Iran as part of the nuclear deal and which were hidden from Congress and the American public.
Brennan had been the anti-terrorism advisor in the Obama White House before taking over the CIA. Rhodes was Obama?s top foreign policy adviser, and had once boasted to the New York Time that he had helped create an ?echo chamber? of prominent people endorsing the Iran nuclear deal to help convince the American public to accept it.
Bloomberg News security affairs commentator Eli Lake agrees that Flynn was a victim of a ?political assassination.? Lake described Flynn as ?a thorn in the side? of the Obama White House after he was forced out of the DIA. Flynn focused his critique on the fatal flaws in the Iran nuclear deal, and ?publicly accused the administration of keeping classified documents found in the Osama bin Laden raid that showed Iran?s close relationship with al Qaeda,? Lake wrote.
A congressional adviser who participated in the failed 2015 fight to kill the Iran nuclear deal agreed that Flynn had been targeted by Obama loyalists who ?knew that Flynn was going to release the secret documents. . . which would blow up their myth that it was a good deal that rolled back Iran. [They] started going to work with their favorite reporters, selectively leaking damaging and incomplete information about Flynn.?
DISTURBING ASPECTS OF THE CASE AGAINST FLYNN
After Flynn made his deal with prosecutors and pled guilty in December 2017, his sentencing seemed to be only a matter of time. But then the first evidence began to surface indicating how the FBI and Mueller?s prosecutors had violated established procedures and to increase the pressure on Flynn to incriminate Trump, which prompted Emmet Sullivan, the new judge who took over Flynn?s case, to repeatedly delay the sentencing date.
First, video surfaced of former FBI Director Jim Comey boasting during a 2018 book tour about how he could ?get away? with sending ?a couple guys over? to the White House to set up Flynn to incriminate himself. Comey also admitted circumventing the usual FBI procedure of giving the White House counsel advance notice before interviewing a senior member of the administration. As his audience laughed, Comey said that it was ?something I probably wouldn?t have done or gotten away with in a more organized administration.?
It also emerged that the two investigators who conducted the ambush interview of Flynn, Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, said in their initial FD-302 reports that they didn?t believe he was intentionally trying to deceive them. But that initial report was suppressed by senior FBI officials. The FD-302 form submitted to the court trying Flynn?s case was not written on the day of the ambush interview, but rather the ?FD-302 of an interview of Strzok, conducted months later, based upon his recollections of the original interview? with Flynn. In that later version, Strzok changed his original finding to conclude that Flynn had been deliberately lying.
WHAT WAS THE FBI AFTER?
In June 2019, Flynn fired his original defense team and hired a new and more aggressive lawyer, Sidney Powell. In August, she filed a motion with Judge Sullivan to hold prosecutors in contempt for withholding evidence from Flynn?s defense team. In October, she filed a motion claiming that ?high-ranking FBI officials orchestrated an ambush-interview … not for the purpose of discovering any evidence of criminal activity … but for the purpose of trapping him into making statements they could allege as false.?
But the defense motions were rejected because Flynn had also told Judge Sullivan under oath that his original guilty plea was authentic, in an effort to protect his original bargain with prosecutors. Judge Sullivan then set another sentencing date for Flynn and asked prosecutors to submit a new sentencing recommendation. They previously promised Flynn they would ask for little or no jail time in return for his guilty plea, but their new sentencing recommendation called for a jail term of up to six months.
At that point, Flynn moved to withdraw his guilty plea, because the government had violated the plea agreement. Flynn then declared under oath that he was innocent of lying to the FBI agents, and that he still did not remember whether he had discussed the new sanctions on Russia with Ambassador Kislyak or not.
In February 2020, Attorney General Bill Barr appointed the US Attorney in St. Louis, Jeffrey Jensen, to review the Flynn case to see if the proper procedures were followed. Jensen found that the FBI and Mueller?s prosecutors were still withholding contemporaneous notes, emails and other exculpatory evidence from Flynn?s lawyers.
On May 7, Timothy Shea, the interim US attorney for the District of Columbia, filed a motion to dismiss the criminal charges against Flynn, but Judge Sullivan refused to accept the motion and insisted on keeping the case against Flynn alive, necessitating Trump?s recent pardon.
WHO ?UNMASKED? MICHAEL FLYNN?
Federal law gives national security agencies the authority to wiretap the phone conversations of foreigners in this country, but it also requires strict privacy protections for US citizens with whom they may be speaking. In their desire to strike back at Trump through his national security advisor, senior Obama administration officials, including Susan Rice and Obama?s UN ambassador Samantha Power, ignored those protections.
They ?unmasked? many Americans involved in such conversations, including Flynn, who was revealed be the American speaking to Kislyak in the wiretapped conversation. That classified information was then leaked to Washington Post reporter David Ignatius, whose January 12 story was attributed to an anonymous senior US government official. In an attempt to embarrass the Trump transition team and cast suspicion on Flynn?s loyalty, the story asked, ?What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the US sanctions??
Flynn?s anonymous accusers had access to the transcript, and knew that he told the Russian ambassador nothing unlawful or even improper. By talking to Kislyak, Flynn was just doing his job as the incoming president?s national security advisor. In fact, there is no doubt that members of president-elect Biden?s transition team are now making exactly the same type of phone calls to foreign diplomats and government officials around the world.
Reuters picked up the story the next day, and cited three sources familiar with the phone calls. One source suggested that the Russians probably wanted to get a sense of the Trump team?s opinion of the new sanctions Obama had announced, although the sources admitted they did not know exactly what Flynn and the Russian ambassador had discussed.
The top security officials in the Obama administration were aware of Flynn?s conversation with Kislyak and closely monitoring the Trump?s team?s reactions to the Washington Post report. They knew that Flynn had misled Pence about what he had said to the Russian ambassador, but decided not to notify the administration until a few days after Trump took office, when Yates met with McGahn ? two weeks after the Washington Post story was published.
FLYNN SAID NOTHING WRONG
Because it also had access to the transcripts of the wiretapped conversations, the White House was able to confirm that Flynn had not said anything improper to the Russian. Flynn did mislead Pence about the phone call, but that was a political mistake, not a criminal act requiring his resignation.
Flynn apologized to Pence and the others in the administration, but in the end, he was asked to resign, since officials felt that Flynn could no longer be completely trusted. In addition, the hostile media attention on Flynn?s phone call with the Russian made his presence in the White House a political liability.
TRUMP STILL VIEWS FLYNN AS A FRIEND
Even after he forced Flynn to step down, Trump still valued their friendship. On February 14, the day he asked Flynn to resign, Trump made a private request to Comey to be lenient with Flynn in the ongoing FBI investigation into the Russian collusion charges. ?I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,? Trump said, adding ?he?s a good guy.?
It was an innocent request which Trump?s enemies later sought to use as the basis for a charge of obstruction of justice against the president. Trump could have used his presidential authority to order Comey to drop the investigation against Flynn, but never raised the issue with the FBI director again.
At his press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu two days after Flynn resigned, Trump said that, ?General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he has been treated very, very unfairly by the media.? Trump added that the criminal leaking of intelligence papers and documents about Flynn to the media was done by ?people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton.?
However, Trump never abandoned Flynn, or criticized him for what he said in his phone call with Kislyak. On the contrary, Trump later said that he never told Flynn to discuss Obama?s sanctions with the Russian ambassador, but that he ?would have directed him [to do so] because that?s his job.?
THE REAL CRIME WAS FLYNN?S PROSECUTION
Conservative columnist Andrew McCarthy argues that the FBI effort to entrap Flynn, ?to try to charge him with false statements or otherwise get him fired,? was a more serious violation of the public?s trust than Flynn misremembering what he said in a phone call to the Russian ambassador a month earlier.
McCarthy doubts that Flynn could have been successfully tried for lying to the FBI investigators even if he had admitted to doing so deliberately, because there was no other real crime involved. ?Under federal law,? McCarthy wrote, ?a false statement made to investigators is actionable only if it is material to the matter under investigation. If there was no basis to believe Flynn had committed a crime, his counsel could have argued that any false statements allegedly made by Flynn when he was questioned in January 2017 were immaterial.?
Columnist Kimberley Strassel wrote that what the FBI did to Michael Flynn was an example of ?law enforcement abusing its most tyrannical power to strip citizens of their reputations, their livelihoods and their liberty.?
Former FBI special agent Thomas Baker noted that in its determination to incriminate Flynn, the FBI had violated the integrity of the FD-302 interview report forms, which are supposed to remain inviolate so that they can be used later as evidence in a courtroom trial.
Agent Strzok admitted in a message to an FBI colleague, Lisa Page, that he heavily edited the FD-302 form that his fellow agent had written after the ambush interview with Flynn, which almost amounted to a ?complete re-write.? Strzok even invited Page to contribute her own edits to the FD-302 form, even though she was not even present for the interview with Flynn.
Former FBI agent Thomas Baker was also disturbed that lying to FBI agents was being prosecuted as ?a stand-alone crime,? even though most FBI agents assume that ?everyone lies? at some point. In Flynn?s case, the FBI reversed the usual procedure. ?Rather than using the [statute against lying to FBI agents as a] warning to get to the truth, agents set a trap for a lie to manufacture a violation.?
Several legal experts were also amazed that senior FBI officials could suggest that Flynn?s could be prosecuted for his authorized phone call with the Russian ambassador under the long obsolete Logan Act of 1799, for whose violation nobody has ever been convicted in federal court.
CREATING A CRIME INSTEAD OF INVESTIGATING ONE
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley noted that Flynn was never charged with treason or with being a foreign agent. ?I have been a criminal defense attorney for decades,? Turley wrote. ?I have seen abusive tactics. However, this is one of the most thuggish records I have seen. Most concerning is that they were trying to create a crime, not investigating a crime. The use of Logan only highlights that bias.?
?Flynn was a useful tool for everyone and everything but justice,? Turley added. ?Mueller had ignored the view of the investigators and coerced Flynn to plead to a crime he did not commit to gain damaging testimony against Trump and his associates that Flynn did not have. The media covered Flynn to report the flawed theory of Russia collusion and to foster the view that some sort of criminal conspiracy was being uncovered by Mueller. Even the federal judge [Sullivan] used Flynn to rail against what he saw as a treasonous plot. What is left in the wake of the prosecution is an utter travesty of justice.?
Of all the innocent victims of the bogus Russian collusion theory against Donald Trump, Michael Flynn has been punished most cruelly for a ?crime? that he never committed.
Senior FBI officials and the Mueller team knew from the outset that Flynn did not deliberately lie to the FBI agents. When it became clear he was a victim of a perjury trap, and that exculpatory information was withheld from Flynn?s lawyers, Judge Sullivan should have agreed to drop all charges against him, but stubbornly refused to do so.
FLYNN SHOULD NOT HAVE REQUIRED A PARDON
Perhaps the best commentary on Flynn?s fate came from White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who said that Trump?s pardon brought ?an end to the relentless, partisan pursuit of an innocent man,? adding that ?General Flynn should not require a pardon.?
She called Flynn?s case ?yet another reminder of something that has long been clear: After the 2016 election, individuals within the outgoing administration refused to accept the choice the American people made at the ballot box, and worked to undermine the peaceful transition of power. These efforts were enabled by a complicit media that willingly published falsehoods and hid inconvenient facts from public view, including with respect to General Flynn.?
Trump?s pardon of Flynn after almost four years of unwarranted persecution was no doubt welcome, but comes far too late. Flynn?s old enemies in the Obama camp have gotten their revenge. Flynn will never recover the reputation he built over more than 30 years of distinguished military service to his country, or the opportunity to guide the national security policies of the Trump administration.
As Kimberley Strassel concluded, ?Mr. Trump acted correctly. And there could have been no more fitting, final rebuke to four years of [unfair prosecution] than to release the man the [anti-Trump] cabal claimed as its very first victim.?
Michael Flynn?s sad fate should be taken as a warning to the American people of what can happen when arrogant government officials and their allies in the media abuse their power over our lives to further their own political ends.