Two and one-half years ago, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller unveiled charges against Michael Flynn for "lying to Federal agents." At the time I gave Mueller the benefit of the doubt and assumed, incorrectly, that the investigation was fair and honest. We now know without any doubt that the so-called investigation of Michael Flynn was frame-up. It was a punishment in search of a crime and ultimately led the FBI to manufacture a crime in order to take out Michael Flynn and damage the fledgling Presidency of Donald Trump.
It is important to understand the lack of proper foundation to investigate Michael Flynn as a collaborator with Russia as part of some bizarre plot to steal the 2016 Presidential election for Donald Trump.
Flynn was perceived as a threat to the CIA and refused to cook the intelligence for the Obama Administration while he was Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
In 2010, Flynn co-authored an important analysis, Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan. Flynn's key conclusion warned that the U.S. intelligence effort in Afghanistan was failing:
The paper argues that because the United States has focused the overwhelming majority of collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, our intelligence apparatus still finds itself unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which we operate and the people we are trying to protect and persuade.
Flynn's work did not sit well with Jim Clapper and John Brennan. John Schindler, a rabid anti-Trumper, wrote a hit piece on Flynn in December 2017, that highlights the Deep State anger at Flynn. Schindler characterizes Flynn's work in unflattering terms and claims that Flynn:
lambasted American intelligence performance in Afghanistan. . . [It] pulled no punches, using words like “marginally relevant,” “ignorant,” “hazy,” and “incurious” to describe U.S. intelligence work in Afghanistan in a scathing fashion.
Flynn's honesty in that assessment did not derail his next promotion–he was sworn in as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in July 2012. Once in that position he refused to cook the intelligence. I saw this firsthand (at the time I had access to the classified intelligence analysis by DIA with respect to the war in Syria). During 2012=2013, DIA provided honest, objective analysis about the success of the Syrian Army in fighting against ISIS and Al Qaeda. If you go back and look at the media reporting at the time, there were dire reports claiming that the rebels were on the verge of ousting Syrian leader Assad and sweeping to power. Members of Congress, such as Senators McCain and Graham, were busy cheerleading the Syrian rebels progress.
Few knew at the time that the CIA was running a massive arms and training program to support some of the Syrian rebels. The program was a failure and the attack on the CIA base in Benghazi, Libya came close to exposing the covert effort. What the media was not reporting is that the rebels the U.S. backed were inept. The only rebels achieving some success were the radical jihadists aligned with ISIS and elements of Al Qaeda (e.g. Al Nusra).
This earned Michael Flynn the lasting enmity of DNI Director Jim Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan. Flynn would not play ball in down playing the jihadist threat in Syria. If you recall, President Obama referred to ISIS as the "junior varsity" during a January 2014 interview with the New Yorker:
“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.
But that was not the story that Flynn's DIA was telling. His refusal to downplay the ISIS threat was on of the contributing factors that led Obama to fire Flynn, who left the DIA position in August 2014.
Michael Flynn did not go quietly into retirement. He became a vocal critic of Obama's failed policies in the Middle East:
Since taking off his uniform last August, Flynn, 56, has been in the vanguard of those criticizing the president’s policies in the Middle East, speaking out at venues ranging from congressional hearings and trade association banquets to appearances on Fox News, CNN, Sky News Arabia, and Japanese television, targeting the Iranian nuclear deal, the weakness of the U.S. response to the Islamic State, and the Obama administration’s refusal to call America’s enemies in the Middle East “Islamic militants.”
This made him a target of both Clapper and Brennan. When Brennan put together a CIA Task Force in the late summer of 2015, I believe that one of the targets of the intelligence collection from that effort was Michael Flynn.
By March of 2016, Flynn was squarely in the crosshairs of the Obama political/intelligence hit squad:
They question why the retired general, who has earned criticism for his leadership style but has generally been regarded as a well-intentioned professional, would assist a candidate who has called for military actions that would constitute war crimes.
“I think Flynn and Trump are two peas in a pod,” one former senior U.S. intelligence official who knows Flynn told The Daily Beast. “They have this naïve notion that yelling at people will just solve problems.”
Flynn, who was forced out of his post as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in August 2014 after clashing with other senior officials, has said that “political correctness” has prevented the U.S. from confronting violent extremism, which he sees as a “cancerous idea that exists inside of the Islamic religion.” Flynn has authored a forthcoming book that argues the U.S. government “has concealed the actions of terrorists like [Osama] bin Laden and groups like ISIS, and the role of Iran in the rise of radical Islam…” His co-author, Michael Ledeen, is a neoconservative author and policy analyst who was involved in the Iran-Contra Affair.
Thanks to the document release on 30 April, 2020, we know that the FBI opened an unsuccessful investigation of Flynn. Here are the key points from the memo recommending the investigation be closed:
Th FBI opened captioned case based on an articulable factual basis that CROSSFIRE RAZOR (CR) may wittingly or unwittingly be involved in activity on behalf of the Russian Federation which may constitute a federal crime· or threat to the national security.
The FBI predicated the investigation on predetermined criteria set forth by the CROSSFIRE HURRICANE (CH) investigative team based on an assessment of reliable lead information received during the course of the investigation.
The FBI queried the FBI databases and at least two other intelligence community databases for incriminating information but found NO DEROGATORY INFORMATION.
The FBI used a Confidential Human Source (aka CHS probably Stefan Halper) to try to collect incriminating information. The CHS claimed that Flynn was in contact with Svetlana Lokhova, a British academic born in Russia, but a subsequent FBI search of their databases turned up NO DEROGATORY INFORMATION.
The FBI memo concludes:
the absence of any derogatory information or lead information from these logical sources reduced the number of investigative avenues and techniques to pursue. . . . The FBI is closing this investigation.
But that did not stop Jim Comey and his cronies from stepping up their efforts to find something they could use to charge and prosecute Flynn. Text messages from Peter Strzok to the author of the memo recommending the case be closed show that Strzok begged to keep the investigation open and cited "7th Floor" interest as justification. The 7th Floor of the FBI is where Jim Comey and Andy McCabe were located.
They decided to pursue two lines of attack. First, to go after Flynn for allegedly failing to register as a "Foreign Agent" because of a report his consulting firm prepared on a Turk living in the United States that Turkey named as a "terrorist." Second, the FBI had in hand the transcript of Flynn's conversations with Russia's Ambassador and wanted to entrap him into lying about those conversations.
Who authorized that collection of those conversations? Flynn was the acting National Security Advisor to President elect Donald Trump. Listening in on such a phone call was a pure act of domestic espionage against a political opponent of Obama. There was no justification to UNMASK General Flynn. But that is exactly what the FBI did.
The news of Mike Flynn's plea agreement in late 2017 with special prosecutor Robert Mueller was trumpeted on the media as if Flynn admitted to killing Kennedy or having unprotected sex with Vladimir Putin. But read the actual indictment and the accompanying agreement.
Here is the chronology of Michael Flynn's entirely appropriate actions as the National Security Advisor to President-elect Donald Trump. This is not what an agent of Russia would do. This is what the National Security Advisor to an incoming President would do.
December 21, 2016–Egypt submitted a resolution to the United Nations Security Council on the issue of Israeli settlements ("resolution").
December 22, 2016–a very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team (reportedly Jared Kushner) directed FLYNN to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, to learn where each government stood on the resolution and to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution.
December 23, 2016–FLYNN again spoke with the Russian Ambassador, who informed FLYNN that if it came to a vote Russia would not vote against the resolution.
On this same day, President-elect Trump spoke with Egyptian leader Sisi, who agreed to withdraw the resolution (link).
[I would note that there is nothing illegal or wrong about any of this. Quite an appropriate action, in fact, for an incoming President. Moreover, if Trump and the Russians had been conspiring before the November election, why would Trump and team even need to persuade the Russian Ambassador to do the biding of Trump on this issue?]
December 28, 2016–President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13757, which was to take effect the following day, imposing sanctions on Russia. Russian Ambassador Kislyak called General Flynn (who was vacationing in the Caribbean).
December 29, 2016, FLYNN called a senior official of the Presidential Transition Team ("PTT official"), who was with other senior members of the Presidential Transition Team at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, to discuss what, if anything, to communicate to the Russian Ambassador about the U.S. Sanctions. On that call, FLYNN and the PTT official discussed the U.S. Sanctions, including the potential impact of those sanctions on the incoming administration's foreign policy goals. The PTT official and FLYNN also discussed that the members of the Presidential Transition Team at Mar-a-Lago did not want Russia to escalate the situation.
- FLYNN called the Russian Ambassador and requested that Russia not escalate the situation and only respond to the U.S. Sanctions in a reciprocal manner.
- Shortly after his phone call with the Russian Ambassador, FLYNN spoke with the PTT official to report on the substance of his call with the Russian Ambassador, including their discussion of the U.S. Sanctions.
December 31, 2016–the Russian Ambassador called FLYNN and informed him that Russia had chosen not to retaliate in response to FLYNN's request.
After his phone call with the Russian Ambassador, FLYNN spoke with senior members of the Presidential Transition Team about FLYNN's conversations with the Russian Ambassador regarding the U.S. Sanctions and Russia's decision not to escalate the situation.
Michael Flynn's contact with the Russian Government and other members of the UN Security Council in the month preceding Trump's inauguration was appropriate and normal. He did nothing wrong. But President Obama's henchmen, including James Comey, John Brennan, Jim Clapper and Susan Rice were out for blood and relied on the FBI to stick the shiv into General Flynn's belly.
That travesty of justice is being methodically and systematically revealed in the documents delivered to the Flynn defense team thanks to the efforts of Attorney General William Barr. Barr is relying on the US Attorney in the Eastern District of Missouri (EDMO) to review the case and provide Brady material to the Flynn defense team. This is by the book. Doing it this way provides the legal foundation for future prosecution of the FBI and prosecutors who abused the General Flynn's rights and violated the Constitution. Stay tuned.
Terence Gore says
All true in my book but it would be very hard to prosecute and get convictions as the defense would be “We were working in the best interests of the US against the dastardly Russkies”
At least half the country believes it goes the Russians interfered materially in the 2016 election.
Now the 64 dollar question, WHEN are the DOJ/FBI/CIA/Obama administration perpetrators of this debacle upon Flynn going to be brought to justice, and put in Federal Prison orange. The sooner these perpetrators are ALL sent to prison, the better!
A lot of Police forces have an internal investigation unit, sometimes called “professional standards” units. They have wide ranging powers and very big teeth. It is very easy for the general public to refer a matter to them. Does the FBI and IC have the equivalent’?
Ray - SoCal says
Great analysis, your article added a lot of context on why Flynn was targeted. What a horrible thing to do to a person.
http://meaninginhistory.blogspot.com/ that has been doing A+ work on the Flynn set up, linked to you.
Diana Croissant says
Thank you for this excellent summary.
I remember these events well from your posts exposing what was going on in Syria as it happened. I also recall your suggestion that Seymour Hersh’s “The Red Line vs. the Rat Line” was something we should read. (Hersh was important for my generation because he brought to light the details of the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War.)
Hersh’s “Red Line” essay was indeed an important read. Wasn’t it written in response to Obama’s statement that he was drawing a red line against the use of chemical weapons…which he did not follow but which Hillary did use as an excuse somehow.
It’s all a little hazy now, but this article clarifies a lot that I had forgotten.
If and that’s a big IF, somehow these scumbags (Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Strzok, et. al) ever got to a courtroom, they’d be facing –
in DC – a jury of 12 Trump-haters and an Obama judge;see Roger Stone’s trial.
Until the swamp is drained and then burned (meaning all SES and over a certain GS level bureaucrats gone), we will continue to live under the thumbs of this corrupt “ruling class.”
And getting rid of all these people wouldn’t make much of a difference to most Americans;witness the notorious “shutdowns” in recent years.
Excellent summary. Yes, Flynn was scapegoated and dragged through the mud for embarrassing his “betters” with the truth. He made mistakes and was naive himself, but he did the right thing exposing their plan to arm and support a jihadi takeover of Syria and Iraq. The plan was to let them takeover and then take the “JV team” out.
They didn’t want to send too many more troops to war. Americans had grown weary due to Bush’s madness, so they used jihadis to carry out their plan in the Middle East and North Africa, to fill in the void while they could before Russia remained weak and China yet to fully emerge, to checkmate the grand chessboard Zbigniew wrote of while the US held unchallenged supremacy.
Obama was very naive about what Muslims are really like in some of those parts. It’s best to liken them to Comanches. He bought into the Zbigniew/Neocon belief that they’ll just be another Taliban, but ask any Afghan who managed to escape the country at the time and they’ll tell you these guys are all devils, djinns.
It was very naive policy making and in the end Obama grew paranoid he was being screwed like Carter, that Benghazi was going to be turned into another Iranian hostage-like situation. It’s a curious thing that Obama warned Trump of Flynn. In Obama’s mind, Flynn was part of a conspiracy to screw him for choosing to back “Syrian and Libyan farmers” over American troops. That this was the US military brass showing him who’s really boss and that they were trying to embarrass him. In reality, he made a bad policy decision based on failure to understand the region. His failures to under these people, exactly as Flynn warned, precipitated these failures.
Obama made a lot of mistakes, but thankfully he didn’t make it worse by invading in spite of his red line. I have to credit him that much, but his failures in Libya and Syria are on par with Bush’s failures in Afghanistan and Iraq. Disastrous doesn’t even begin to describe these failures.
Trump showed a lot of promise that these circumstances would change for the better. Sadly, he has performed no better. Netanyahu and Pompeo are so far up his ass that they are now his ventriloquists. Obama should have warned him of those two instead.
“… internal investigation unit”. If I run the IG and change the definition of “whistle blower” to allow hearsay evidence that is not admissible as evidence in any court in the Western world that still makes it okay to use hearsay, right? Of course it does. You forgot about Horowitz and his IG report already, you guys must really be getting desperate. Thanks for the laugh.
As much as I would love to see this “ruling class” brought low, by which I mean burnt to the ground, we face the problem of The Ruling System, outlined in this post on the Z-Man blog:
A little snippet from the post:
…We see the same thing has evolved in the American Empire. If you take time to read up on the Flynn case or the much larger plot around it, you see a large cast of people with one thing in common. They all live together as a social class. Some were having sex with one another. Others had been friends since college. Others developed their relationships when they came to Washington. All of these social relationships transcend the formal positions and titles of the people…
Z-Man examines this in various historical settings, Versailles, Communist Russia, before arriving at The Swamp. Interesting angle.
Small world, speaking of Seymour Hersh’s lengthy CIA gun-running to Syria expose in “The Red Line and Rat Line”, that all his prior media connections refused to publish at the time (Benghazi-Obama days), until it finally appeared in the London Review of Books- or something like that.
At that time of the Syria events, it appeared one of the biggest names in the background pushing for more support for Syrian “rebels”, was the shadowy activist group AVAAZ.
Now comes the present day kicker, the mistress Antonia Staats of the recently fired UK “expert” Neil Ferguson that caused our global shut down with his wildly inaccurate corona death count numbers, works for US based AVAAZ. Did she have any influence over his draconian pronouncements based up on her known AVAAZ activism?
Who was it that says there are no coincidences? Long time since I saw any media attention given to AVAAZ, nor any final answers why the CIA was running such a big operation in Benghazi in 2012. However, all the same names and players still swirling around gives one pause.
Is AVAAZ just one more name for Bernnan’s CIA, not like unlike CNN? Should these dots be connected or just discarded as one more right-wing wacko conspiracy theory.
Keith Harbaugh says
Thanks for the excellent summary of how Flynn became “persona non grata” to various powers in the IC.
But there is another powerful group in Washington whose fervent enmity he drew: the Democratic establishment.
Keith Harbaugh says
Adding to my comment just above, my personal feeling
on why there was such a push
to find something to prosecute Flynn over
was as a direct response to Flynn’s leading of chants to “lock her up.”
“What goes around comes around” seems to be an operative policy for some in Washington.
I can’t help but believe that is what drove DOJ’s otherwise inexplicable drive to find something to prosecute Flynn over.
Not yet confirmed, but it appears almost certain that Strzok’s predicate for keeping the Flynn file open relied entirely on the Logan Act.
AVAAZ pushed FaceBook and Zuckerberg to ban about half of FB content on novel coronavirus, starting last month, Politico gleefully reported. [Two medical doctors in California ‘out of step’ with the diktats of some medical cartel’s message, among those FB canceled, for example.]
AVAAZ, which pushed regime change in Syria, no fly zone in Libya, spews hatred of Russia, etc. is alive and well, working hard at increasing online censorship.
Their clicktivism business model and lock downs go hand in hand.
[[Avaaz discovered that over 40 percent of the coronavirus-related misinformation it found on Facebook. . .]]
[[Avaaz said that these fake social media posts — everything from advice about bogus medical remedies for the virus to claims that minority groups were less susceptible to infection — had been shared, collectively, 1.7 million times on Facebook in six languages]]
[[Avaaz tracked 104 claims debunked by fact-checkers to see how quickly they were removed from the platform]]
Keith Harbaugh says
Acting DNI Grenell wants to release some transcripts; HPSCI Chairman Schiff wants to keep them under wraps.
Sundance discusses the situation here:
“ If I run the IG and change the definition of “whistle blower” to allow hearsay evidence that is not admissible as evidence in any court in the Western world that still makes it okay to use hearsay, right? Of course it does. You forgot about Horowitz and his IG report already, you guys must really be getting desperate. Thanks for the laugh.”
No laughing matter. The IG position is obviously politicized. It may be a surprise to you, but many police forces have an internal investigation unit that has extremely wide powers that. go far beyond those available in ordinary investigation. The staff of such units are a rare and disliked breed and the units are managed by the natural enemies of the police – criminal lawyers.
Given that I’ve seen what these units do here, I am surprised that Strzok, Page and others were not apprehended and charged very quickly.
Jim, thank you for the further AVAAZ info.
Call me gob-smacked. Hope the investigative media picks up this thread. Seymour Hersh, are you listening? AVAAZ felt sinister during the Benghazi days – also reacll some connections with Samantha Power and Susan Rice – Barry’s Girls.
Maybe mistress Antonia Staats was on a mission; and not just being a scofflaw mistress? In fact is she trying out to be the new S.P.E.C.T.R.E Bond Girl?
IG’s are no surprise to me nor the politicalization, such as Baltimore and Chicago, cities run by the same politcal party for decades. Or the “intelligence community” IG, who changed to rules to allow the scam of Schiff’s supersecret whistleblower fraud to go forward. But then you probably forgot that guy like you did Horowitz.
“I am surprised that Strzok, Page and others were not apprehended and charged ….”
Larry insists that will happen. I’m not holding my breath.
The Twisted Genius says
You all forget that Flynn pled guilty, under penalty of perjury, to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russians. He never said his contacts were wrong and I don’t think the plea deal said the contacts themselves were wrong either. I don’t think they were wrong at all, but that’s immaterial. As are any other of his alleged dealings with Turkey, Israel or Saudi Arabia. Short of proving prosecutorial misconduct, I think Flynn is SOL.
A curious timeline:
Feb 29 – DNC candidate Bernie Sanders, heavily favored by AVAAZ loses in South Carolina effectively handing the DNC nomination to Biden. AVAAZ also heavily supported Sanders against Clinton in 2016
March 2 – In Australia, FACEBOOK news pushes unsubstantiated toilet paper shortage rumors, hoarding TP quickly spreads to japan and Hawaii, making everyone suddenly aware of this “novel corona” virus. Panic buying grips the US, even when business experts said there would never be a TP shortage in the US.
March 11 – WHO declares global pandemic because of “novel corona virus”
March 16 – Imperial College of London Ferguson publically projects huge projected global”novel corona virus” death numbers.
US states and city lock-downs begin. Be safe – stay home.
March 30 and April 8 – AVAAZ key employee Antonia Staats breaks London quarantine and meets with long time lover, who just happens to be Imperial College of Medicine epidemiologist Ferguson
Could it be? The AVAAZ agenda reads like the most radical new wing of the Democrat party and its new breed of socialist activists – from overturning Citizens United to climate change. At best, they share many interests, agendas and buzzwords. At worst, they are a certain wealthy Hungarian octogenarian wet dream.
AVAAZ and their 60 million members world wide has certainly learned to exploit their agenda through very engaged global “click-tivism” and global petitioning of world leaders.
AVAAZ is worthy of more than passing curiosity, at this critical time of global melt down. My own gut feeling sensed some connection to the unfounded TP panic and the now embedded global corona panic that has just about destroyed the world’s economy, along with lives and ways of life.
I read the essay;thanks for recommending a good read.
That is a part of what I was trying – clumsily – to get at.
An incestuous “ruling class” that will fight to the death to preserve its privileges and wealth (note that the richest counties in the US are in Virginia and Maryland) as Trump has belatedly found out.
The FBI internal affairs unit (OPR) exists to investigate low level agents doing stupid low level things.
NO law enforcement agency is going to seriously investigate itself.
Keith Harbaugh says
The following is,IMO, an excellent summary of the situation, by Kevin Brock, former AD for Intel at the FBI:
Keith Harbaugh says
There’s quite an impressive list of court filings concerning the Flynn case this afternoon, dealing with, among other things, the withdrawal of Brandon Van Grack from the case, and a schedule for resolving the tiff between Covington&Burlington and Sidney Powell.
The best and easiest way to view these, IMO, is to Google
michael flynn courtlistener
Then click on the top entry, which yields the court docket for this case, starting with the first entry.
To put it in reverse order, showing the most recent first, click the button that shows a 9 above a 1.
The Twisted Genius says
DOJ just dropped all charges against Flynn. He’s free as a bird.
He can never be made whole for what has been done to him and his wife. BTW, Judge Sullivan accepted the DoJ motion.