There is a great deal of suspicion and analysis surrounding the latest developments in the Mueller case, or lack thereof, against Michael Flynn. Consider this a summary addendum to the CTH initial review. This is the Occam’s Razor that explains some contradictions.
We cannot view these actions through the transactional prism of modern judicial proceedings as they relate to you and me. These are political struggles taking place inside the venue of the legal system. The players use the legal system to game out the optics and narrative of political battles for ideological wins and losses.
After the November 8th, 2016, election everyone within the Obama network who was associated with the surveillance operation against the Trump campaign was at risk. This is the impetus for the “Muh Russia” conspiracy narrative that was used as a mitigating shield. Within a few weeks ODNI James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan began pushing the Russia election interference narrative in the media.
NSA Director Mike Rogers went to Trump tower on November 18th, 2016, and essentially informed the principals within the campaign they were under some forms of surveillance.
By mid-December the Obama administration was deploying a full-court-press using their media allies to promote the Russia conspiracy. However, despite their public proclamations Clapper and Brennan were refusing to give any specifics to congress.
The hard narrative was that Russia interfered. That was the specific push from within the Obama intelligence apparatus writ large. All IC officials, sans Mike Rogers (NSA) had a self-interest in pushing this narrative; after all, it was the defensive mechanism to justify their illegal spying operation throughout 2016. This was their insurance policy.
The media was battering the Trump transition team every hour of every day with questions about the Russia Narrative; and fertilizing the seeds of a collusion conspiracy.
On December 29, 2016, the IC produced, and rushed to completion, a ridiculous document to support the false-premise. This was called the Joint Analysis Report which claimed to outline the details of Russia’s involvement hacking into targeted political data base or computer systems during the election. We were introduced to “Grizzley Steepe” and a goofy claim of Russian hackers.
On the same day (12/29/16) Obama announced a series of sanctions against Russians who were located in Maryland. This was Obama’s carefully constructed response to provide additional validity to the Joint Analysis Report. After fueling the Russia conspiracy for several weeks, Obama knew this action would initiate a response from both Russia and the incoming Trump administration.
On the day the JAR was released and Obama made the announcement, President-elect Donald Trump and some of his key members were in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. Incoming National Security Adviser Mike Flynn was on vacation in the Dominican Republic. As expected the Obama action spurred calls between Russian emissary Kislyak and Flynn.
The Obama IC were monitoring Kislyak communications and waiting for the contact. They recorded, and later transcribed the conversation.
The media continued to follow the lead from the Obama White House and Intelligence Apparatus (writ large) and fuel the narrative that any contact with the Russians was proof of collusion of some sort. In addition the communications team of the White House, DOJ, FBI and aggregate IC began pushing a narrative surrounding the obscure Logan Act.
The ridiculous Logan Act promotion was targeted to infer that any action taken by the Trump campaign prior to taking office was interference with the political Obama Russia action and would be evidence of collusion; that was the plan. DOJ Deputy AG Sally Yates was in charge of pushing the Logan Act narrative to the media.
The first two weeks of January 2017 was now a merging of two necessary narratives. (1) Russian interference; and (2) the Logan Act; deployed against any entity who would counter the Russia narrative story. The media were running this dual narrative 24/7 against the incoming Trump officials; demanding repeated answers to questions that were framed around this story-line.
On January 3rd, 2017, the new congressional year began. SSCI Vice-Chair Dianne Feinstein abdicated her position within the Gang-of-Eight, and turned over the reigns to Senator Mark Warner. Warner was now the vice-chair of the SSCI; and a Go8 member.
With the Flynn Dec. 29, 2016, transcript in hand the DOJ/FBI began aiding the Logan Act narrative with Obama intelligence officials supporting the Russia Conspiracy claims and decrying anyone who would interfere or counter the official U.S. position.
On January 14th, 2017, the content of the communication between Flynn and Kislyak was leaked to the Washington Post by an unknown entity; likely the leak came from the FBI’s counterintelligence operation and/or the DOJ national security division – the same units previously carrying out the spying operation.
The FBI CoIntel group (Strzok, McCabe etc.), and the DOJ-NSD group (Yates, Carlin, McCord etc.) were the largest stakeholders in the execution of the insurance policy phase because they were the epicenter of spygate.
The leak of the Flynn conversation with Kislyak was critical because the DOJ/FBI were formulating a political case. This was not about legality per se’, this effort was about establishing the framework for an investigation, based on a false premise, that would protect the DOJ and FBI. The investigation they needed was the Mueller special counsel to protect them.
The leak led to Vice-President Mike Pence being hammered on January 15th, 2017, during a CBS Face the Nation interview about Trump campaign officials in contact with Russians. Pence was exceptionally unprepared to answer the questions and allowed the media to blend questions about campaign contacts with necessary transition team contacts.
•Sunday January 15th, 2017 – VP-elect Mike Pence appears on Face The Nation. [Transcript Here]
JOHN DICKERSON: But there’s a distinction between that feeling about the press and legitimate inquiry, as you say, that the Senate Intelligence Committee is doing. Just to button up one question, did any advisor or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE: Of course not. And I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy. (link)
*NOTE* Notice the incoming administration was under a false-narrative siege created by the media. At the time (early Jan, 2017) ‘any contact’ with Russians was evidence of meddling/election-collusion with Russians. VP-elect Mike Pence poorly answered the question from Dickerson from a very defensive position.
That toxic media environment and Mike Pence speaking poorly during a Face The Nation interview was the issue. Once Vice-President Mike Pence made the statement that Flynn had no contact with anyone from Russia etc. any contradictory statement from Flynn would make Pence appear compromised; so Flynn had to stick to Pence’s false point without clarification. Flynn was interviewed by the FBI on January 24th, nine days after Pence made his comments.
•Tuesday January 24th – Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn was interviewed at the WH by the FBI.
During this ambush interview, disguised as a meeting, FBI Agent Peter Strzok and FBI Agent Joe Pientka were contrasting Vice-President-elect Pence’s statements to CBS against the known action of Mike Flynn. [Flynn has three options: either (1) Flynn contradicts Pence, or (2) he tells a lie; or (3) Flynn explains Pence misspoke, those were his options.]
How Flynn responded to the line of inquiry and explained/reconciled the difference between Pence’s statement on Jan 15th, and what actually took place, is why the FBI ended up with the conclusion that Flynn wasn’t lying.
I have long believed it is within this dynamic where the FD-302 reports, written by Strzok and Pientka, then became the subject of political manipulation by Asst. FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Stay with me and think about this carefully.
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, Lisa Page 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!
♦Strzok 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.” Strzok agrees with Page 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?
Does it all make sense now?
Do you see why there are reports of the second FBI agent, Joe Pientka, saying he didn’t believe Flynn lied to them in the interview. Likely because Flynn didn’t…. but the McCabe crew jumped on the opportunity to frame a lose/lose. Either Flynn accepts a version of the 302 report where he lied; or, Flynn has to take the position that Vice President Mike Pence lied to the nation in the CBS Face The Nation interview.
See how that went down?
That’s also the likely reason why FBI Agent Joe Pietka has been kept quiet.
FUBAR !! All of it.
WATCH – The first three minutes are important :
•Wednesday January 25th – The Department of Justice, National Security Division, (at this timeframe Mary McCord was head of the DOJ-NSD) – received a detailed readout from the FBI agents who had interviewed Flynn. Yates said she felt “it was important to get this information to the White House as quickly as possible.”
•Thursday January 26th – (morning) Yates called McGahn first thing that morning to tell him she had “a very sensitive matter” that had to be discussed face to face. McGahn agreed to meet with Yates later that afternoon.
•Thursday January 26th – (afternoon) Sally Yates traveled to the White House along with a senior member of the DOJ’s National Security Division, “who was overseeing the matter”. This was Yates’ first meeting with McGahn in his office, which also acts as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF).
Yates said she began their meeting by laying out the media accounts and media statements made by Vice President Mike Pence and other high-ranking White House officials about General Flynn’s activity “that we knew not to be the truth.”
According to Sally Yates testimony, she and ???? reportedly presented all the information to McGahn so the White House could take action that they deemed appropriate. When asked by McGahn if Flynn should be fired, Yates answered, “that really wasn’t our call.”
Yates also said her decision to notify the White House counsel had been discussed “at great length.” According to her testimony: “Certainly leading up to our notification on the 26th, it was a topic of a whole lot of discussion in DOJ and with other members of the intel community.”
•Friday January 27th – (morning) White House Counsel Don McGahn called Yates in the morning and asked if she could come back to his office.
•Friday January 27th – (late afternoon) According to her testimony, Sally Yates returned to the White House late that afternoon. One of McGahn’s topics discussed was whether Flynn could be prosecuted for his conduct.
Specifically, according to Yates, one of the questions *McGahn asked Yates: “Why does it matter to DOJ if one White House official lies to another?” She explained that it “was a whole lot more than that,” and reviewed the same issues outlined the prior day.
*If you consider that McGahn was trying to thread the needle between Mike Pence’s poorly worded response to CBS, and Michael Flynn’s questioning that came after Pence’s statement. ie. McGahn could see the no-win situation Flynn was in during that inquisition.
McGahn then expressed his concern that taking any action might interfere with the FBI investigation of Flynn, and Yates said it wouldn’t: “It wouldn’t really be fair of us to tell you this and then expect you to sit on your hands,” Yates claims to have told McGahn.
McGahn asked if he could look at the underlying evidence of Flynn’s conduct, and she said they would work with the FBI over the weekend and “get back with him on Monday morning.”
•Friday January 27th, 2017 – (evening) In what appears to be only a few hours later, President Trump is having dinner with FBI Director James Comey where President Trump asked if he was under investigation.
Now, accepting the politicization of the entire Russian Conspiracy Narrative that was leading the headlines for the two months prior to this dinner; and knowing moments earlier your Chief White House counsel informs you that two political operatives (Yates and ????) from the DOJ were providing classified intelligence reports about General Flynn; and knowing the prior months (Nov/Dec/Jan) were fraught with leaks from intelligence reports identical to those discussed; wouldn’t you perhaps think that any action you take could be utilized to add fuel to this Russian narrative? And/Or be used by these same leak facilitators to make something seem like something it is not?
Think about it.
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.