Author’s Note: This essay is largely based off of our new book “Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald Trump.”
On December 29th, 2016, Michael Flynn received a phone call while on vacation in the Dominican Republic from Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that would change his life forever.
Earlier in the day, in retaliation for Russian interference in the election (not collusion), then-President Barack Obama forced the closure of Russian-owned compounds in New York and Maryland, and slapped new sanctions against Russia. Is there any doubt that such a move would prompt Ambassador Kislyak to call Flynn, Trump’s National Security Adviser at the time, to discuss what had just happened?
In taking Kislyak’s call, Flynn must’ve been aware that the call would be intercepted and monitored, given that he was speaking on an unsecured line in the Dominican Republic. Had Flynn been on U.S. soil he would’ve been able to prevent such surveillance, but due to the timing of Obama’s firings and Flynn’s location in the Dominican Republic, his conversation with Kislyak was intercepted and recorded.
The two discussed the sanctions against Russia Obama had just passed, and Kislyak promised that Russia would not react with sanctions of their own.
Since the call was recorded, the FBI had an entire transcript of the conversation. If there were any wrongdoing, it would be evident in the transcript. Clearly, it was not, as at the direction of Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Flynn was questioned about the contents of his conversation with Kislyak on January 24th, 2017 by special agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka in a meeting set up by then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Rather than try to pry information from Flynn about the call, Flynn was merely quizzed about the contents of his own conversation, with Strzok and Pientka presumably looking for any deviation from the script to claim Flynn was technically “lying to the FBI,” even if unintentionally.
Sally Yates immediate concern from the Kislyak phone call was that Flynn violated the “Logan Act,” a rarely enforced law from 1799 that prevents Americans from corresponding with foreign governments (which is ridiculous, given’s Flynn’s political position). If the Logan Act actually were enforced, it would’ve been used to prevent Dennis Rodman from visiting North Korea, or Jimmy Carter’s various peace efforts. If Flynn had truly done something wrong, why would Yates be so desperately grasping at straws in citing the Logan Act?
Setting the Trap: Flynn Advised Against Legal Counsel
In a stunning new development, we’ve learned from a 302 report that proper protocol wasn’t followed to protect Flynn against entrapment. A 302 report contains accounts from the agents of what they said and did while interviewing Flynn, and the FBI waited over half a year to detail the Flynn interview. According to Fox News:
The August date on the FBI 302 cited by the Flynn team is nearly seven months after the Flynn interview took place, and about a week after reports surfaced that Strzok had been summarily removed from Mueller’s Russia probe because his persistent anti-Trump communications had surfaced.
Flynn “clearly saw the FBI agents as allies,” according to the 302 prepared by Strzok and another agent.
Flynn’s attorneys alleged that Andrew McCabe pushed Flynn not to have an attorney present during the questioning that ultimately led to his guilty plea on a single charge of lying to federal authorities. According to Flynn’s legal team [and the 302 itself], FBI agents in his case deliberately did not instruct Flynn that any false statements he made could constitute a crime, and decided not to “confront” him directly about anything he said that contradicted their knowledge of his wiretapped communications with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Bear in mind, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign was a secret at the time. Flynn had no reason to have his guard up.
Comey and McCabe’s Defense Seems Unbelievable
Even stranger, despite the charges Flynn now faces following the Kafkaesque line of questioning, when James Comey briefed a number of Capitol Hill lawmakers about the Bureau’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign, two sources familiar with the meetings said Comey told lawmakers the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn didn’t believe he lied or intentionally provided any misleading answers. The report also said FBI Director McCabe testified that the FBI agents didn’t suspect wrongdoing either. Yet McCabe also pushed Flynn to speak without a lawyer. For those reasons, and the role that Peter Strzok played in trying to thwart a Trump presidency, I find these claims doubtworthy.
It also doesn’t help the FBI’s credibility when two of those involved in Flynn’s entrapment (Strzok and McCabe) have since been fired for misconduct. Clearly, their claims that they “actually thought Flynn was innocent” cannot possibly be true, as if they were, Flynn wouldn’t have had to plead guilty to manufactured charges to avoid a personal bankruptcy. And let’s suppose for a second that they are true – that McCabe, Strzok, and Pientka all thought Flynn did nothing wrong. Then who was pulling the strings to decide otherwise?
What do you think is more likely? That Michael Flynn couldn’t perfectly recall the contents of a phone call made while on vacation, or that Flynn decided that he’d lie to the FBI’s face without any legal counsel over the contents of a phone call where nothing illegal is discussed? To ask such a question is to answer it, so it’s no wonder that entrapment was the goal all along.