Total Setup? FBI Told Michael Flynn To Ditch Lawyer During Interview With Strzok
Andrew McCabe – the FBI’s former Deputy Director, advised then-national security adviser Michael Flynn that he wouldn’t need a lawyer present during a January 24, 2017 White House interview with two FBI agents, according to the Washington Examiner, citing a sentencing memo filed Tuesday by Flynn’s attorneys. During a phone call with Flynn, McCabe suggested that if anyone else was in the meeting, the FBI would have to escalate things to involve the Justice Department.
Citing McCabe’s account, the sentencing memo says that shortly after noon on Jan. 24 — the fourth day of the new Trump administration — McCabe called Flynn on a secure phone in Flynn’s West Wing office. The two men discussed business briefly and then McCabe said that he “felt that we needed to have two of our agents sit down” with Flynn to discuss Flynn’s talks with Russian officials during the presidential transition.
McCabe, by his own account, urged Flynn to talk to the agents alone, without a lawyer present. “I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between [Flynn] and the agents only,” McCabe wrote. “I further stated that if LTG Flynn wished to include anyone else in the meeting, like the White House counsel for instance, that I would need to involve the Department of Justice. [Flynn] stated that this would not be necessary and agreed to meet with the agents without any additional participants.” –Washington Examiner
One of the agents conducting the interview was disgraced counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, whose text messages to his FBI mistress revealed that he harbored extreme animus towards President Trump – and ostensibly those in his orbit, which would include Flynn.
According to the so-called “302 report” – a document FBI agents use to summarize interviews, the two agents were in Flynn’s office within two hours of the phone call with McCabe, and said he was “relaxed and jocular,” offering the agents “a little tour” of his section of the White House.
“The agents did not provide Gen. Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 before, during, or after the interview,” reads Flynn’s memo.
Also contained within the 302 report is an admission that McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport.”
As Byron York of the Examiner notes – the FBI agents had already seen transcripts of Flynn’s wiretapped conversations with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. “Before the interview, FBI officials had also decided that if ‘Flynn said he did not remember something they knew he said, they would use the exact words Flynn used … to try to refresh his recollection. If Flynn still would not confirm what he said … they would not confront him or talk him through it,” reads the 302 filing.
That is all the sentencing document contains about the interview itself. In a footnote, Flynn’s lawyers noted that the government did not object to the quotations from the FBI 302 report.
In one striking detail, footnotes in the Flynn memo say the 302 report cited was dated Aug. 22, 2017 — nearly seven months after the Flynn interview. It is not clear why the report would be written so long after the interview itself.
The brief excerpts from the 302 used in the Flynn defense memo will likely spur more requests from Congress to see the original FBI documents. Both House and Senate investigating committees have demanded that the Justice Department allow them to see the Flynn 302, but have so far been refused.
In the memo, Flynn’s lawyers say that he made a “serious error in judgment” in the interview. Citing Flynn’s distinguished 30-plus year record of service in the U.S. Army, they ask the judge to go along with special counsel Robert Mueller’s recommendation that Flynn be spared any time in prison. –Washington Examiner
Following a recommendation from the special counsel that Flynn face no jail time due to the “substantial” assistance he reportedly provided to Mueller’s team, the former national security adviser asked the court to do 200 hours of community service, according to the memo. “As the Government has made clear, his cooperation was not grudging or delayed,” Flynn’s attorneys Stephen Anthony and Robert Kelner wrote in the sentencing memo. “Rather, it preceded his guilty plea or any threatened indictment and began shortly after he was first contacted for assistance by the Special Counsel’s Office.”
Federal sentencing guidelines call for Flynn to serve a sentence of up to six months in prison and pay up to a $9,500 fine.
Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Kislyak.
“Even when circumstances later came to light that prompted extensive public debate about the investigation of General Flynn, including revelations that certain FBI officials involved in the January 24 interview of General Flynn were themselves being investigated for misconduct, General Flynn did not back away from accepting responsibility for his actions,” states the memo.