Posts Tagged ‘Michael Flynn’

Needed in the Russia investigation: More skepticism of Manafort and the media (Lynch Mob Doesn’t Need a Rope, At Least Not Yet)

January 11, 2019

Don’t fall for the media “bombshells,” and never count Manafort as a friend.

The Russia-collusion story manages to be at once frenetic and humdrum. Apparent bombshell revelations arise but without advancing the public’s knowledge beyond a couple of truths we all knew back in 2016: First, when it comes to President Trump, the media can’t control itself. Second, Paul Manafort is no friend.

In perhaps the 1,000th “ bombshell” report on the Russia investigation, the New York Times reported earlier this week that Manafort, as Trump’s campaign chairman, had sent internal polling data to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is “close to the Kremlin.”

Washington Examiner

This revelation perturbed us. Seeing how close Manafort and Michael Flynn were to both Russia and Trump, we have kept an open mind about the investigation into collusion. We don’t know all the facts, and so we try to process all new information on its merits.

Oleg Deripaska — Credit Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images

Yet while many media outlets — see Esquire, Talking Points Memo, and others — took the Times report as conclusive proof of collusion, we held our fire. Why? Because while we have tried to keep cool about this investigation, the largest media outlets have not. We recall ABC reporting that Flynn met with the Kremlin during the campaign. That was a “bombshell” of the first order. Except that it turned out to be false.

And so it was with the latest Times report. Manafort was sending the polling data to Ukranians, it turns out, not to Russians as the Times claimed.

Former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn leaves after the delay in his sentencing hearing at US District Court in Washington, DC, December 18, 2018. - President Donald Trump's former national security chief Michael Flynn received a postponement of his sentencing after an angry judge threatened to give him a stiff sentence. Russia collusion investigation head Robert Mueller had proposed Flynn receive no jail time for lying to investigators about his Moscow ties. But Judge Emmet Sullivan said Flynn had behaved in a "traitorous" manner and gave the former three-star general the option of receiving a potentially tough prison sentence now -- or wait until Mueller's investigation was closer to being completed to better demonstrate his cooperation with investigators. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images Photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP or licensors

Mike Flynn outside the courthouse

This incident confirmed both of our general operating assumptions on the Russia investigation: Don’t fall for the media “bombshells,” and never count Manafort as a friend.

Manafort went to work for the Trump campaign in the spring of 2016. Trump wasn’t paying Manafort, which should have been a clear warning sign. Manafort was free to Trump for the same reason Facebook is free to you: You are not the customer; you’re the product. Manafort was working for Ukrainian oligarchs and other shady foreign clients, and part of the value he was delivering was proximity to the Republican presidential nominee and the information, such as internal polling, that proximity allowed him.

We have repeatedly warned Trump about this. “Manafort is not your friend,” we wrote in an editorial addressed to the president. “Manafort is a shady foreign agent who tried to exploit you. And if he had never been involved in the Trump campaign, there may not be a Russia investigation at all.”

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There’s some worry that Trump has considered pardoning Manafort. At the very least, we’ve seen Trump praise Manafort. This praise is unwarranted.

Trump should turn his back on this double-dealer who has caused him so much trouble. And we all should show more skepticism of the media “bombshells” that have caused commentators and other reporters so much trouble.


Michael Flynn’s Sentencing Hearing Should Be a Wake-Up Call

December 20, 2018
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn departs after his sentencing was delayed at U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., December 18, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

The conjecture from Trump’s base was that Robert Mueller would finally get his comeuppance. That’s not what happened.Those of us old enough to remember the controversies of the George W. Bush administration just might remember a particular word – a word that symbolized the excitement of the Netroots Left for the moment that would finally reveal the true corruption of the Bush administration. That word was “Fitzmas,” the day when special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald would “frog-march” the likes of Karl Rove and even Dick Cheney out of the White House in handcuffs.

Except Fitzmas never really came. Yes, Fitzgerald prosecuted Scooter Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice, but that was small potatoes. The gap between expectations and reality was vast. It turns out that it’s very possible for a political movement to get lost in its own spin.

I thought of Fitzmas yesterday, when the high hopes of talk radio and Fox News for the would-be martyr, Michael Flynn, turned to ashes and dust in a D.C. courthouse. Rather than blowing the lid off alleged FBI misconduct and special-counsel overreach in the prosecution (persecution?) of General Flynn, the judge blew his stack at the general.

Judge Emmett Sullivan unleashed an angry — and, quite honestly, over-the-top and inappropriate — tirade after Flynn accused the FBI of misconduct in his sentencing brief but backed away from its claims in open court. It was a brief that read well in conservative media but was singularly inappropriate to file in a court with a judge who has more complete command of the facts of the case than the talking heads on television or the Twitter lawyers online.

Two excerpts from the sentencing hearing are key to understanding what happened. Here’s the first, the dialogue is between Judge Sullivan and Flynn’s legal counsel:

Adam Goldman


This sorta sums up today’s events at the Flynn hearing in a nutshell.

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All that spin you’ve been hearing about perjury traps? Those arguments you heard that the FBI mistreated Flynn and duped him into lying? When it was time to put up or shut up — when it was time to be held accountable rather than please the crowd — Flynn’s team failed.

And why did they fail? Because they knew more than you knew. They knew that Flynn was more vulnerable than any of us thought. How do we now know that? Because the judge made it plain that he could have been indicted for more crimes, and only his cooperation had prevented further legal jeopardy:

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Adam Goldman


Prosecutor tells judge that Flynn could have been indicted in secret Turkey lobbying effort. Two of Mr. Flynn’s former business associates were just charged in that scheme.

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Judge Sullivan is referring to last week’s indictments of Bijan Kian and Ekim Alptekin. According to prosecutors, Kian and Alptekin “conspired covertly and unlawfully to influence U.S. politicians and public opinion concerning a Turkish citizen living in the United States whose extradition was then being sought by the Government of Turkey.” The defendants allegedly, “sought to discredit and delegitimize the Turkish citizen in the eyes of politicians and the public, and ultimately to secure the Turkish citizen’s extradition.”

And who did Kian and Alptekin work with as part of this scheme? Michael Flynn. Here’s a summary of the case by Natasha Bertrand in The Atlantic:

It began with a meeting in New York in September 2016 between the future national-security adviser Michael Flynn and Turkish government officials, in which they discussed kidnapping an exiled cleric and turning him over to Ankara. A curious op-ed followed, in which Flynn alleged that the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, led a “dangerous sleeper terror network” and needed to be extradited. U.S. prosecutors soon took notice, and Flynn and two of his business associates were ultimately revealed to have been on a foreign government’s payroll in 2016, lobbying against the interests of the United States—and to have tried to cover it up when they got caught.

Consider the yawning gap between the Flynn spin and the Flynn case. The spin said he was “only” guilty of lying to the FBI, and he was trapped into that crime. The reality is that he lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russia, lied about his relationship with Turkey, and is now an unindicted participant in the strange influence operation outlined above — and that’s just based on our current knowledge. There is a considerable amount of cooperation still ongoing. There is much we still don’t know.

Yes, it was way over the line for the judge to raise the question of treason. But it was not wrong for Sullivan to disclose his “disgust” and his “disdain” for Flynn’s crimes. A three-star general knows better.

This was not supposed to happen. Yesterday was supposed to be the moment of the special counsel’s reckoning, not Flynn’s. There were signs last week that the judge might be “checking” Robert Mueller. After all, he ordered the release of FBI summaries — called a “302” — of its Michael Flynn interview. As the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel wrote:

Judges have the ability to reject plea deals and require a prosecutor to make a case at trial. The criminal-justice system isn’t only about holding defendants accountable; trials also provide oversight of investigators and their tactics. And judges are not obliged to follow prosecutors’ sentencing recommendations.

She also called the judge a “no-nonsense straight shooter.” True enough, and yesterday that straight shooter held Flynn’s team to account. The straight shooter gave him the choice to fight or fold. That Flynn chose the latter course tells us something important about the hundreds of thousands of words of public defense on his behalf.

We do not know the ultimate outcome of the Mueller investigation. And yes, there are many people on the Left who are deep into their own spin — dreaming dreams of unveiling a vast criminal conspiracy with Trump the Machiavelli in the middle. But yesterday’s events should serve as a wake-up call for Trump’s base.

Beware of what you don’t know. The long-awaited days of reckoning may not bring the outcome you desire.

DAVID FRENCH — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Flynn Fiasco

December 19, 2018

A sentencing hearing devolves into a spectacle of misinformation.

  • Former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn leaves after the delay in his sentencing hearing at US District Court in Washington, DC, December 18, 2018. - President Donald Trump's former national security chief Michael Flynn received a postponement of his sentencing after an angry judge threatened to give him a stiff sentence. Russia collusion investigation head Robert Mueller had proposed Flynn receive no jail time for lying to investigators about his Moscow ties. But Judge Emmet Sullivan said Flynn had behaved in a "traitorous" manner and gave the former three-star general the option of receiving a potentially tough prison sentence now -- or wait until Mueller's investigation was closer to being completed to better demonstrate his cooperation with investigators. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images Photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP or licensors



Well, that was bizarre. We’re referring to the fiasco Tuesday of what was supposed to be the sentencing of Michael Flynn. The sentencing was postponed until next year, but not before federal Judge Emmet Sullivan damaged his own reputation with an extraordinary public attack on the former national security adviser for a crime he’s not been charged with or admitted to.

Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty a year ago to a single count of lying to the FBI. Yet after being assured that the former three-star general is sticking with his plea,, Judge Sullivan unloaded on the defendant over his supposed violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.

“All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign government while serving as the National Security Adviser to the President of the United States. That undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably, you sold your country out,” said the judge. He also used the words “treason” and “treasonous.”

But Mr. Mueller has never charged Mr. Flynn with violating FARA…

A judge isn’t supposed to lose his cool on the bench and berate a defendant for  crimes that haven’t been adjudicated in court, much less spread false information.

… the falsehood made global headlines….

Read the rest:




‘Nothing More Damning’: Williams, Watters Debate Flynn Trial, Case of PA Cleric

Juan Williams and Jesse Watters debated the importance of the case against retired Gen. Michael Flynn — in which he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Williams said that Flynn’s case is extremely serious, adding that discussion in the courtroom Tuesday turned to whether the war veteran “sold out his country” in regard to contact with Russian diplomat Sergey Kislyak.

“I don’t think there’s anything more damning than that,” Williams said, adding that the case hasn’t yet delved into Flynn’s alleged role as an “agent of a foreign government” — in this case, Turkey.

Jesse Watters disagreed with Williams’ assertion, asking where Flynn could’ve “sold out” the United States in a serious way.  Regarding acting in the interests of foreign entities, Watters said that “everyone in the swamp does that.”

“He was just trying to track down some radical cleric in Pennsylvania hiding from [the Turkish government]… It was illegal by not registering [as a foreign agent], but let’s not make it out to be a huge scandal.”

Turkish President Recep Erdogan has demanded the United States government extradite Fethullah Gulen, who he claims is a political opposition leader allegedly behind the coup attempt in Ankara in 2016.

Gulen has lived for several years in relative seclusion at a religious retreat compound near Wind Gap, Pa., about 25 miles northwest of Easton.

Former Prosecutor: Flynn Judge Can Add Prison Time For ‘Aggravating’ Factors

Dem Lawmaker: Flynn Hearing ‘Put to Rest’ Notion He Was Tricked Into Committing a Crime

Flynn allegedly participated in a lobbying campaign to have Gulen extradited from the Poconos to Turkey, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported this week.

Speaking on the Flynn case in general, Greg Gutfeld said the court proceedings are only the focus of the media because “they can’t find collusion” involving Donald Trump and the Russians.

Donald J. Trump


Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn. Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign. There was no Collusion!

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The panel on “The Five” noted that the judge in the case, Clinton appointee Emmet Sullivan, is “highly respected” by all political sides, and once went so far as to throw out the conviction of late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) by citing “prosecutorial misconduct.”

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Treason Discussion at Mike Flynn Sentencing — Sentencing Unexpectedly Delayed

December 18, 2018

Judge had threatened to impose jail time on former national security adviser


President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn leaves federal court in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018.

WASHINGTON—Mike Flynn’s sentencing for lying to the FBI was unexpectedly delayed Tuesday after a dramatic court hearing in which a federal judge lambasted the former Trump adviser and suggested he first complete his cooperation that had drawn a request for leniency from prosecutors.

The hearing, before U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, came two weeks after federal prosecutors recommended no jail time for Mr. Flynn, a former Trump national security adviser who was one of the president’s first associates to be ensnared in the probe of Russian election interference and other matters. He pleaded guilty a year ago to having made false statements to the FBI about his interactions with Moscow’s ambassador to the U.S. before President Trump took office.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the judge questioned Mr. Flynn’s patriotism, asked prosecutors whether they had considered a treason charge against the retired Army general and suggested he might impose jail time despite prosecutors’ contention that Mr. Flynn deserved a low sentence.

Judge Sullivan, a veteran jurist who was appointed to the federal bench by President Clinton, repeatedly emphasized that he didn’t consider Mr. Flynn’s behavior to be a minor lapse and rejected the notion raised by defense attorneys that similar cases have resulted in no jail time. The judge later walked back some of his strongest comments against Mr. Flynn but said he was troubled by his conduct and unhappy with previous precedents that have allowed other senior government officials to avoid jail time for lying.

“This is a very serious offense—a high-ranking senior official of the government, making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation while on the physical premises of the White House,” Judge Sullivan said from the bench.

The judge ordered both sides to update him on the status of Mr. Flynn’s cooperation by March 13.

Attorneys for the government and Mr. Flynn had filed sentencing memos in advance of the hearing, and both encouraged the judge to impose a sentence that could include probation and no jail time in exchange for his help in several investigations. But the judge, who has the final say over sentencing, upended what was expected to be a routine hearing.

Mr. Flynn at first said repeatedly that he wanted to proceed with his sentencing on Tuesday, but after multiple, pointed questions from Judge Sullivan, he took the judge up on an offer to confer again with his attorneys. After a 20-minute discussion, Mr. Flynn re-entered the courtroom, and his lawyer said he had decided to wait until his cooperation was complete.

Judge Sullivan has the authority to impose a tougher penalty than the two sides had agreed, potentially including jail time. But the judge’s comments suggested Mr. Flynn’s additional cooperation could weigh in his favor.

GOP Operative Claimed Contact With Flynn, WikiLeaks

GOP Operative Claimed Contact With Flynn, WikiLeaks
Special counsel Robert Mueller is probing the activities and contacts of Peter W. Smith, a GOP operative who sought Hillary Clinton’s emails from hackers in 2016. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday explains. Photo: Getty Images.

The unusual nature of the hearing appears to have been triggered in part by a sentencing memo Mr. Flynn’s attorneys filed last week, in which they said the FBI agents who interviewed him didn’t warn him that lying to them is a crime, and said the FBI had encouraged him to not have an attorney present. That drew a reply from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, which said in its own filing that Mr. Flynn should have known not to lie to federal agents.

Still, Judge Sullivan said he was concerned about those points and asked Mr. Flynn whether he was seeking to withdraw his plea. Mr. Flynn said he accepted responsibility for his actions and knew they were wrong.

The judge then asked Mr. Flynn if he knew lying to the FBI was a crime, even without an attorney present. “I was aware,” Mr. Flynn responded.

Judge Sullivan had said it was uncommon to sentence a cooperating defendant without the benefit of a full account of their assistance to the government. Mr. Flynn’s business associates were indicted in a case unsealed Monday on charges related to work they performed together for the Turkish government in 2016, and Mr. Flynn may testify at their trial.

The judge appeared especially troubled by that foreign lobbying work, incorrectly stating that Mr. Flynn was an unregistered lobbyist while serving in the White House. The judge later amended his statements to clarify that the Turkey work ended before Mr. Flynn joined the Trump administration.

That lobbying work and the failure to disclose it “undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out,” the judge said.

In the Mueller team’s sentencing memo from early December, Mr. Flynn’s help on several investigations is described, but details were blacked out in the court papers. Mr. Mueller is known to be examining Trump associates’ ties to Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump.

Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty last year to one count of lying to the FBI in telling agents he hadn’t asked the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, to refrain from retaliating against Obama-era sanctions. He also admitted he lied about his interactions with the Russian governmentregarding a United Nations vote on Israel in the last weeks of the Obama presidency.

Judge Sullivan questioned whether an attempt to undermine the Obama administration’s foreign policy constituted “treasonous activity” on Mr. Flynn’s part and whether prosecutors had considered charging him criminally for it. He later said he wasn’t implying Mr. Flynn had committed treason, merely asking the question of prosecutors about their charging decisions.

Mr. Flynn is a former military intelligence officer who became close to Mr. Trump after being fired from a top national security post during the Obama administration. During the 2016 campaign, he became a surrogate for Mr. Trump—providing national-security guidance to a first-time presidential candidate with no experience in foreign affairs.

After winning the presidency, Mr. Trump installed him as national security adviser despite warnings from Mr. Obama not to hire him.

Mr. Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser after it emerged that he had lied to administration colleagues about his contacts with the ambassador. He told officials, including two FBI counterintelligence agents, that he hadn’t discussed sanctions with the ambassador, but intelligence intercepts contradicted his story.

The acting attorney general at the start of the Trump administration, Sally Yates, told Congress months later that she had warned White House officials she was concerned Mr. Flynn could be compromised by Russians for having misled administration officials.

Write to Byron Tau at and Aruna Viswanatha at

Dershowitz: Flynn lied, but the FBI acted inappropriately

December 15, 2018

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Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz weighed in Saturday on how federal authorities treated former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

“There are two issues: Did he lie at the time the FBI came to him? The answer is yes. Could he have told the truth? Yes. The second is: Does the fact that he pleaded guilty prove that he’s guilty? Absolutely not. He pleaded guilty because of the enormous pressures on him even though I think he could have won the case,” Dershowitz said in a Fox News interview Saturday.

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Dershowitz said prosecutors want to use anything in Manafort’s past to get him to spill the beans on any wrongdoings he witnessed during the 2016 presidential election. (Image courtesy screenshot)

Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who worked on Trump’s campaign before his short stint as national security adviser, pleaded guilty last December to lying to the FBI about his conversations during the campaign with Sergei Kislyak , the Russian ambassador at the time. Flynn’s charge came about through special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and Mueller cited Flynn’s cooperation with the probe when he requested earlier this month that Flynn not serve time.

“It’s not a proper function of law enforcement or of a grand jury to ask you a question that they know the answer to. Their function is to get new information. But if they already know the answer and ask you the question, it’s for one purpose only: to test your morality, to test your truthfulness,” Dershowitz said.

Earlier this week, the judge in the case requested documents related to Flynn’s FBI questioning, ahead of his expected sentencing next week. The FBI recommended Flynn not have a lawyer present, according to a court filing.

“The FBI shouldn’t be sending people in, telling you not to have counsel, and hope maybe you’ll commit a crime so then they can squeeze you and get you to sing or compose. That’s not way American law enforcement should operate,” Dershowitz said.

Dershowitz said civil libertarians should be concerned about these tactics by law enforcement, pointing to Judge T.S. Ellis III’s criticism of Mueller during the Paul Manafort trial.

“What Mueller is doing is trying it find low hanging fruit, figure out every way to get them to commit a crime, it’s their fault that they commit the crime and then squeeze them so they’ll sing or compose. Welcome to how special counsel operate,” Dershowitz said.

Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, was convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud in September in a Virginia trial presided over by Ellis and then pleaded guilty to two felony charges in Washington, a deal that involves cooperation with Mueller’s investigation. Mueller has since claimed Manafort violated his plea deal by lying to investigators.


Alan Dershowitz: Interview of Michael Flynn “The Most Unfair Use of the FBI”

December 14, 2018

Alan Dershowitz called the recent  news report on the FBI interview of Michael Flynn by Peter Strzok and others a “wrongful use of the FBI” and a “classic perjury trap.”

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Dershowitz appeared on the Fox News channel just before 10 am, on Friday, December 14, 2018.

He was commenting on several recent report in the news media that called into question the way the DOJ and FBI handled Michael Flynn, as port of the Robert Mueller investigation of Russia and its involvement in the U.S. 2016 election.

The Wall Street Journal called the FBI interview of Michael Flynn “dodgy.”


Trump: Michael Flynn’s ‘great deal’ is because of how he was treated

December 13, 2018

President Trump defended his former national security adviser Thursday, saying Michael Flynn’s light sentence recommendation is because prosecutors are embarrassed by how Flynn was treated.

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“They want to scare everybody into making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smallest of misstatements,” Trump tweeted.

Donald J. Trump


They gave General Flynn a great deal because they were embarrassed by the way he was treated – the FBI said he didn’t lie and they overrode the FBI. They want to scare everybody into making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smallest of misstatements. Sad!……

Flynn pleaded guilty last year to one count of making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Sergei Kislyak, at the time the Russian ambassador. Both Flynn’s lawyers and special counsel Robert Mueller recommended in their sentencing memos that Flynn, who also worked for Trump’s transition team, not have to serve prison time because of his cooperation with Mueller’s investigation.

Former FBI director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told lawmakers last year that FBI agents didn’t see anything that indicated Flynn was lying in the interview, though McCabe said his statements were at odds with evidence.

A memo that detailed Flynn’s interview with the FBI revealed officials suggested he not have a lawyer present. The judge in the case requested Wednesday documents related to the interview ahead of Flynn’s scheduled sentencing next week.

Trump, who has frequently decried Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling, reiterated his criticism of the probe Wednesday.

Donald J. Trump



Devin Nunes: I’m ‘glad’ federal judge wants more information on Michael Flynn’s FBI interview

December 13, 2018

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday welcomed a federal judge’s decision to seek more information about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s dealings with the FBI.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., made the comments on Fox News after the federal judge overseeing Flynn’s case demanded records from the 2016 Trump campaign surrogate and special counsel Robert Mueller’s team about his January 2017 interview with FBI agents, according to the Washington Post.

Flynn last December pleaded guilty to lying during the sit-down when he told investigators he did not discuss sanctions with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Michael Flynn, then the national security adviser, at the White House in early 2017. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

“I’m glad that the judge is looking at this. I think the judge had also asked the House Intelligence Committee to provide the transcript that we have of Director Comey testifying before our committee. He’d be interested in that also,” Nunes told the cable news network.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s request comes before Flynn’s expected sentencing next week and could reportedly delay the proceedings. Mueller recommended last Friday that the retired U.S. Army lieutenant general should not receive prison time given his “substantial assistance” to the Russia probe.

Flynn’s lawyers argued in court filings Tuesday that he should not be sent to prison because he was “unguarded” during the FBI interview, which took place shortly after President Trump’s inauguration, and was not advised that he was being investigated by law enforcement for alleged misconduct.

Comey Transcript Released – Didn’t Know the Answer to 245 Questions

December 9, 2018

156 “I don’t know” —  Said “I don’t remember” 71 times. —  Said “I don’t recall” 8 times

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House Republicans on Saturday released a transcript of their private interview on Friday with former FBI Director James Comey, detailing a lengthy closed door skirmish between Comey and GOP lawmakers over the origin of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and how Comey dealt with the probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as Secretary of State.

It was the first of two private sessions, as Comey is scheduled to return to Congress on December 17.

Because there were no television cameras, the transcript is the only way to get a bead on what was said in the interview, which was not under oath, but where Comey was bluntly warned to be truthful.

Under the agreement, Comey was allowed to speak out after the hearing – but lawmakers were not.

James Comey


Today wasn’t a search for truth, but a desperate attempt to find anything that can be used to attack the institutions of justice investigating this president. They came up empty today but will try again. In the long run, it’ll make no difference because facts are stubborn things.

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So what does the 235 pages of the transcript show? Here’s some tidbits to chew on.

1. When Comey hears “Russia investigation,” it’s two distinct probes. Asked by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) about the overall Russia probe, Comey indicated that he sees things differently than many. To him, there are two complimentary investigations going on: 1) dealing with Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and 2) the counterintelligence probes aimed at people with ties to the Trump campaign who were in touch with Russians or Russian government assets. “We opened investigations on four Americans to see if there was any connection between those four Americans and the Russian interference effort. And those four Americans did not include the candidate,” Comey added. He did not identify the four who were under review, as Comey refused to answer a number of specific questions related to the Russia probe.

2. What does the term ‘collusion’ mean to Comey? In the back and forth between Comey and GOP lawmakers, at one point Comey was pressed to define the word ‘collusion,’ which has become a central flashpoint of the Russia investigation. Often supporters of the President point out that there is no crime called ‘collusion’ – and Comey says he’s not familiar with the term, either. “What is the crime of collusion? I do not know,” Comey said in response to a question from Rep. Gowdy. Comey then gives his review of what collusion means to him with regards to the Russia probe: “I think in terms of conspiracy or aiding and abetting.”

Amanda Carpenter


Cummings asked Comey how serious it is that Flynn lied about foreign contacts. COMEY: “The reason it’s a
big deal is you have an adversary nation attacking America. If Americans in our country are assisting them, it’s aiding and abetting the enemy in attacking our country”

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3. Comey says Flynn did lie, even if he didn’t look it. Supporters of the President have made a big deal out of the evaluation of FBI agents that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn didn’t seem like he was lying about his contacts with the Russian Ambassador during the Trump transition. Pressed about that by Rep. Gowdy, Comey said it was clear that Flynn was lying. “I recall saying the agents observed no indicia of deception, physical manifestations, shiftiness, that sort of thing,” Comey testified, as he summed up by saying of Flynn, “There’s no doubt he was lying.”

4. Comey says he saw no bias from Strzok in Clinton probe. In an answer that is certain to leave many Republican critics fuming, Comey said he did not personally see any evidence that FBI official Peter Strzok was biased against President Trump. To buttress that argument, Comey talked about how Strzok helped draft the controversial letter that was sent to Congress just before the 2016 elections, which said the probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails was being re-opened. “So it’s hard for me to see how he was on Team Clinton secretly at that time,” Comey said, as he also reiterated a point made by Strzok in his combative testimony – that Strzok was one of the few people who knew about the investigations into Trump-Russia links, and that Strzok never leaked that information to the press or public. Comey though did say that based on the texts from Strzok, he would have taken Strzok off the Trump-Russia investigation.

Adam Goldman


Comey points out obvious: How could Pete Strzok be on team HRC if he helped draft the letter Comey sent to Congress on Oct. 28, 2016 – days before the election. Many folks think that letter damaged her chances to become president.

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5. Comey: I’m not buddies with Robert Mueller. One refrain from President Trump is that Mueller can’t be trusted with his probe because he and Comey are friends. “Robert Mueller and Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey are Best Friends, just one of many Mueller Conflicts of Interest,” the President tweeted on Friday, just a few hours before Comey went to Capitol Hill for his closed door questioning. So, Democrats asked Comey – are you friends with Mueller? “I am not,” Comey said, telling lawmakers he doesn’t know Mueller’s phone number, and has no relation with him ‘in any social sense.’ But Comey made clear he is a believer in Mueller. “There are not many things I would bet my life on. I would bet my life that Bob Mueller will do things the right way, the way we would all want, whether we’re Republicans or Democrats, the way Americans should want,” Comey said.

6. Comey okayed leak investigation involving Giuliani. In the final stretch of the 2016 campaign, Comey testified that he was concerned by a ‘number of stories’ and leaks about Hillary Clinton, which he believed were coming from the New York Field Office of the FBI – and were going to people like former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was a campaign booster for President Trump. “Mr. Giuliani was making statements that appeared to be based on his knowledge of workings inside the FBI New York,” Comey told lawmakers, as the former FBI chief said it seemed to him that the bureau had an ‘unauthorized disclosure problem’ – “so I asked that it be investigated.”

The Wall Street Journal


Comey said he ordered a leak probe after Giuliani made public statements that indicated he had inside knowledge of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails 

Comey took aim at Giuliani during Friday’s deposition.

Comey Tells House Panel He Suspected Giuliani Was Leaking FBI Information to Media

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Not quite all the president’s men are cooperating with Robert Mueller

December 9, 2018

Special counsel Robert Mueller filed papers in court over the past week that show he’s getting significant cooperation from former national security adviser Michael Flynn and President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.

Image result for Robert Mueller, photos

But while some think that bodes poorly for Trump, Mueller also indicated that former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is going against his agreement to help Mueller, and instead appears to be working against him.

Here’s a look at just how much Trump’s former senior staff members are helping Mueller, or not:

Paul Manafort

At first, the former chairman of Trump’s campaign was a cooperator, but Paul Manafort has since slipped up.

In filing Friday night, Mueller’s team said it can pinpoint five things Manafort lied about — even after he accepted a plea agreement in September in Washington to work with authorities.

In the plea deal in September, Manafort pleaded guilty to two felony charges — one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice for tampering with witnesses.

The plea agreement also required him to “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation and any other matters in which the government deems his cooperation relevant. That included interviews, handing over documents and testifying before the grand jury in Washington and in any other trials.

But on Friday, Manafort is accused of lying throughout 12 meetings with the special counsel’s office.

Those alleged lies were about things like his contacts with the Trump administration in 2018 and his communications with reputed Russian intelligence agent Konstantin Kilimnik.

“Manafort told multiple discernible lies — these were not instances of mere memory lapses,” the prosecutors wrote in the memo to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington.

Though he had told prosecutors when he reached his plea deal that he had “no direct or indirect communications” with any Trump administration official while they were in government, Manafort had in fact kept in touch with a senior official through February 2018, prosecutors said. And in May 2018, he authorized someone else to speak with a Trump appointee on his behalf, they alleged.

Mueller’s team has left open the possibility that it could file new charges against Manafort, who has been jailed since June after allegations that he tampered with witnesses.

Manafort has already been convicted on eight charges of bank and tax fraud in Virginia as part of Mueller’s probe.

Michael Flynn

The first court filing on Tuesday dealt with Michael Flynn, who had a short stint as Trump’s national security adviser. Flynn also served Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign and during his presidential transition.

The 13-page document is mostly redacted, but it makes clear that Flynn has been cooperating with the Mueller investigation and has provided “substantial” help. It said Flynn gave 19 interviews that federal prosecutors called “particularly valuable,” and also provided “documents and communications.”

Flynn provided Mueller with “substantial assistance in a criminal investigation” in addition to the special counsel’s probe of “any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald J. Trump.”

“While this [document] seeks to provide a comprehensive description of the benefit the government has thus far obtained from the defendant’s substantial assistance, some of that benefit may not be fully realized at this time because the investigations in which he has provided assistance are ongoing,” Mueller’s office said.

Flynn pleaded guilty to a single felony count of making false statements to the FBI in December 2017. The former U.S. Army Lieutenant General lied about the conversations he had with Russia’s ambassador in December 2016 about sanctions the U.S. was imposing.

According to a statement of offense filed in court, Flynn conducted had three calls with senior officials on the Trump transition team about his discussions with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak related to sanctions.

Those senior officials are widely believed to be Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and KT McFarland.

“[I]t seems like Michael Flynn has been providing quite a volume of information. And, you know, in his position as national security adviser, someone involved in the campaign and the transition, it does suggest that he is someone who had potentially quite a bit of information and that he has come through in sharing that information in ways that Mueller and his team have found productive,” former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade told NPR on Wednesday.

Michael Cohen

On Friday, prosecutors for Mueller’s team indicated that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, is also cooperating.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including violating campaign finance laws in a case being investigated by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Last week, he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in a separate case brought by the special counsel.

Federal prosecutors in New York said Cohen has not cooperated in their investigation and argued he should receive a “substantial” prison sentence of roughly 42 months. But Mueller’s office was more lenient and detailed how Cohen has has helped, noting he has meet with investigators on seven occasions, giving “lengthy” interviews.

And though Cohen lied during their first interview in August, he has since been forthcoming and even corrected former untruthful statements.

“In recent months, however, the defendant has taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct. He chose to accept responsibility for his false statements and admit to his conduct in open court. He also has gone to significant lengths to assist the Special Counsel’s investigation. He has met with the SCO on seven occasions, voluntarily provided the SCO with information about his own conduct and that of others on core topics under investigation by the SCO, and committed to continuing to assist the SCO’s investigation,” wrote Mueller’s team.

Cohen appears to be cooperating specifically on the question of whether Trump pushed Cohen to violate campaign finance laws in 2016.

“With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election,” the New York filing said. “Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments. In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” or President Trump.

The document said Cohen recorded conversations with Trump in which the payments Cohen made to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels were discussed. It said those payments, which were aimed at keeping the women quiet about their alleged affairs with Trump, were effectively campaign contributions in excess of federal limits.

Trump’s former lawyer also seems to be cooperating by providing information about the Trump campaign’s links to Russia. Cohen told Mueller’s office that he’d spoken with a Russian national who claimed to be a “trusted person” in the Russia Federation and could offer Trump’s campaign “political synergy.”

Mueller’s office said Cohen provided certain Russian-related information that got to the “core” of the special counsel investigation, and that he gave “relevant and useful” information about his contacts with those “connected to the White House” from 2017 to 2018.