The Continued Frameup of General Flynn

In an unprecedented act, the D.C. Court of Appeals denied General Michael Flynn’s emergency petition for writ of mandamus, keeping the prosecution alive despite all charges dropped and an earlier order by an appeals court panel to dismiss the case. The prosecution of General Flynn is an open display of Washington corruption, but one that cannot be fully understood without the story in its entirety.

Against the strong objections of the Obama administration, General Flynn was appointed to National Security Advisor by President Trump at the beginning of his presidency, prompting attacks on his reputation by the intelligence community through selective leaks to various media outlets. On February 9th, 2017, the Washington Post reported that Flynn had discussed sanctions against Russia on the phone with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, implying that a backdoor deal was being struck against America’s best interests. The next day, the Post reported that Flynn may have lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his call with Kislyak. Pence had already made high-profile TV appearances stating that the campaign team had no improper contact with the Russians. The Trump team had been putting out fires relating to accusations of collusion with Russia and the possibility that Flynn had misled Pence concerning his call with the Russian ambassador was gasoline on the flames. After an FBI transcript of the call confirmed that Kislyak had brought up sanctions, Trump asked Flynn for his resignation on February 13th, twenty-four days after appointment.

Image courtesy of Bosch Fawstin.

After the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate claims of Russian collusion, the FBI and the Department of Justice swarmed General Flynn, investigating his past business dealings, business partners, even his son. Every salacious detail was leaked to the Washington Post and the New York Times, both churning out propaganda stories implying that Flynn had betrayed his country by selling out to foreign powers.

In the end, there was no evidence of illegal activity or collusion with Russia. Instead, Flynn was accused of lying to the FBI about discussing sanctions with Kislyak. Half of America watched with horror, the other with glee, as Flynn surrendered himself after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI and entering a plea deal with Mueller. James Comey, the disgraced former FBI Director, tweeted a bible verse:

But justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24)

The day after Flynn’s guilty plea marked the beginning of an unravelling that would make Machiavelli blush. The Justice Department’s inspector general found text messages between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and FBI Agent Peter Strzok showing incredible bias and illegal collusion. While on the team investigating Hillary Clinton’s illegal email server, Page and Strzok had discussed plotting to tip the 2016 election to Clinton. Both would later be on Mueller’s investigation team, with Strzok handling the investigation into Flynn. Texts came out showing that the Russian collusion accusation was fabricated by the FBI as an “insurance policy” to undo the 2016 election if Trump managed to win. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of texts would be destroyed by FBI technicians, but among those which survived had incredible significance to General Flynn. Judge Rudolph Contereras, the Obama appointee overseeing Flynn’s case, had not disclosed that he had a close friendship with Page and Strzok, recusing himself without explanation only after learning the texts proving this relationship would soon surface, six days after accepting Flynn’s guilty plea.

Page and Strzok had schemed up a cocktail party with “Rudy” so Strzok could meet face to face without arousing suspicion of collusion. Strzok asked Page to come to the party with other coworkers so “Rudy” would not have to recuse himself from any of Strzok’s investigations:

[REDACTED] suggested a social setting with others would probably be better than a one on one meeting... I’m sorry, I’m just going to have to invite you to that cocktail party… Have to come up with some other work people cover for action.

Worse yet, “Rudy” had been assigned to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in May 2016, just in time for the FBI’s spy warrants on Trump in Operation Crossfire Hurricane in July. Who presented the government’s case for FISA approval? Peter Strzok.

Additional blows were made to Mueller’s credibility. It became obvious that the Mueller team had browbeaten Flynn into pleading guilty by threatening his son. Flynn became more aggressive as the legitimacy of the Mueller team waned, arguing that he was the victim of an elaborate frame-up. Emmet Sullivan, the new presiding judge, blasted Flynn’s lawyer, forcing him to retract the entrapment claim.

In June 2019, after the complete collapse of Mueller’s Russian investigation, Flynn fired his attorney and hired Sidney Powell, an aggressive anti-DoJ lawyer. Powell attempted to retract the guilty plea and formally accused the Justice Department of malicious prosecution and withholding evidence. One by one, her motions were denied by Judge Sullivan.

In the backdrop, President Trump’s loyalists were finally seizing partial control of the intelligence agencies and the Department of Justice. Richard Grenell was installed as Acting Director of National Intelligence and proceeded to declassify Flynn’s call with Kislyak and the list of Obama officials who had authorized illegal espionage against Flynn. In the call which had caused so much controversy, Flynn had sidestepped talk of sanctions with Ambassador Kislyak by simply asking him not to escalate against the United States.

Additional declassified FBI documents showed that the FBI had wiretapped Flynn without cause, broken protocol by sending FBI agents to the White House without authorization, attempted to trick Flynn into thinking he was not under investigation, and called Flynn beforehand to warn him not to have counsel present during the interview. The agents selected to interview Flynn were Joe Pientka and Peter Strzok.

The FD-302 summary of the interview, written by agent Pientka, stated that Flynn had been sincere in his recollection of his call with Kislyak. On Lisa Page’s order, Strzok would go on to almost completely rewrite Pientka’s form. Judge Sullivan had ordered for the original 302 to be entered into evidence, receiving instead the edited version without acknowledgement by the prosecution of the substitution.

Declassified FBI documents show how the frame-up plot came about. On January 4th, 2017, after finding no derogatory information against Flynn, the Washington FBI field office notified Strzok that operation CROSSFIRE RAZOR was slated to close. Strzok replied, “Don’t close RAZOR.” The next day, Strzok was in the Oval Office with President Obama, Joe Biden, Sally Yates, James Comey, and Susan Rice, discussing how to attack Flynn. Strzok took handwritten notes, discovered and declassified by Grenell. Biden suggested using the Logan Act. Obama stressed the importance of having the “right people” investigate Flynn. Comey reminded everyone that Flynn’s calls with Russian Kislyak were legitimate. They knew Flynn was not a Russian asset and had the transcript of the phone call to prove it, but decided to question him about the call anyway “to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”

Judge Sullivan did everything he could to stop this mountain of evidence from being entered into both the court and public view, prompting a media beatdown by Sidney Powell. Soon, Grenell’s declassifications made it clear that prosecutor Brandon Grack, a former member of Mueller’s team, had withheld exculpatory evidence, prompting him to withdraw from the case. Deeply embarrassed, the Justice Department dropped all charges.

Incredibly, Judge Sullivan decided to keep the proceedings alive despite prevailing case law prohibiting him from doing so. Sullivan requested a “friend-of-the-court” brief from retired judge and Clinton appointee John Gleeson to oppose dropping the charges. A federal appeals court ordered Sullivan to explain his actions. Sullivan, in an unprecedented move, hired a criminal defense attorney to assist in his reply to the appeals court, a reply which the appeals court read before promptly granting Flynn’s request to dismiss charges with prejudice. Sullivan then petitioned the D.C. Court of Appeals to rehear the case, a petition which the Court granted, making it the ninth such case since 2010.

On August 11th, after a four-hour charade consisting mostly of bizarre hypotheticals, the court ended oral arguments over whether the case should be reheard. On August 31st, the court decided to deny Flynn mandamus relief, indefinitely putting off a resolution of Flynn’s case.

The Court of Appeal’s decision may undo Flynn’s legal relief, but it cannot undo his exoneration.

Image: Gage Skidmore