A Few Pieces on General Flynn

I admired now-retired Lieutenant General Mike Flynn during his time running intelligence in Afghanistan. I was thus really saddened to see both his failure to reform DIA, and the harm to his career it caused; but I was really sad to see him arrested and charged with being a foreign agent. The idea was that he was somehow involved in a quasi-treasonous conspiracy with the Russians.

Well, that turned out to be only sort-of true. The foreign government he was working for turned out to be not Russia but NATO ally Turkey; and the charge isn't so much that he was a spy as that he didn't file the right paperwork to lobby for a foreign government. Also, until that day the law had not been prosecuted as a rule; you just were required to go back and fill out the forms. The law was really on the books, even if it was unenforced, but it was a little unfair to make a special exception for this one guy -- especially in light of his history of genuinely excellent service in Afghanistan.

And then it turned out that the original frame was based on the Logan Act, that unconstitutional piece of nonsense that went unenforced for two centuries -- in spite of far grander and more obvious violations, by people who went on to become Senators and Secretaries of State.

So, at some point my sadness at Flynn's tragic downfall began to alter to a suspicion that he wasn't being fairly treated.

There is some new evidence coming to light now that makes clear that he really, really was not fairly treated. Even the scoundrels in the Mueller investigation have finally asked that he receive no jail time, perhaps in part out of a sense of guilt about what they've done to the man. Perhaps he should have known not to trust the FBI when they told him to meet with them without a lawyer; perhaps he should have known that he was subject to legal penalties for lying to them even if they characterized the meeting as a 'visit' rather than an 'interview,' and even if they didn't warn him about his liability. But he can't be held responsible for the fact that the FBI agents' conclusion that he was being open and forthcoming would be painted as 'lying,' or that he'd be forced by debt and massive overcharges to plead guilty to a crime that he plainly did not commit.

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial calling it entrapment. Sarah Carter has a story that says that the FBI mishandled evidence and rewrote the material statements about the interview months later. James Comey admitted that he took steps in the 'investigation' that were not standard.

The judge in the case has, a year after the guilty plea and at the sentencing hearing, suddenly had to demand that all exculpatory information be revealed to him by the prosecution.

I'm starting to think that the wrong man is in danger of prison time.

UPDATE: I'm going to forward one more just because I love the title: "James and the Giant Impeachment."


E Hines said...

Couple things on the Flynn situation. I don't have as much sympathy for him as I might (though I do have some); it's hard for me to understand how he could be so naive as to go to an FBI interrogation of him--which he had to know that "conversation" was, if not before hand, then about two questions into it--without a lawyer. And without notifying White House Counsel that he, a member of the administration, was going to have that conversation.

The other thing is the 302s the agents supposedly used to entrap Flynn. Even when done in good faith, 302s are agents' notes of the conversation/interrogation completed, whether just a few minutes ago, or immediately after the drive back to the office, or some time later than that. They are not real-time recordings of the conversation. As such, they are fraught with the potential for memory errors, misquotes, misapprehensions of what was said or left unsaid. And they contain none of the tones of voice or body language that real-time recordings, whether audio or visual, could have and which could completely change the meaning of the cold, written word.

However, given that the FBI cozened him into being interrogated without a lawyer and regardless of Flynn's actual guilt or innocence, IMNSHO, justice (and Justice) would be well-served were the judge to reject the plea deal altogether, dismiss all the charges against Flynn with prejudice, and require the FBI to pay Flynn's legal costs.

Eric Hines

Aggie said...

..."perhaps in part out of a sense of guilt about what they've done to the man."

That's quaint, projecting human impulses of decency onto the reptiles running the "Muh Russia" investigation. I would counter that it's probably less a sense of guilt and more a sense of cynical self-preservation, of not wanting to risk the wrath of the judge coming down on them any harder for their malfeasance.

My guess is that Flynn mistakenly thought, in the post-election world, that the DOJ was an extension of the Executive Branch, and therefore on the same team, or something similar. And I'm sure that McCabe and company played that angle with the same malice-aforethought that they engaged in all other aspects of the post-election world where Trump was concerned. A big mistake on Flynn's part. I hope the judge throws it all out.

E Hines said...

Apparently (I've not been able to corroborate), the judge has demanded Mueller stand and deliver all the classified and redacted stuff Mueller has withheld, too.

Eric Hines

David Foster said...

I'm currently reading a very interesting book about Russia in the last days of the Soviet Union, the Yeltsin era, as the transition to Putin's rule.

As Putin consolidated his power, it was demanded that many formerly-independent organizations come under the direct control of the government. One of these was an opinion-research group. When the government demanded that it be sold to the state, the group's leader declined.

He was told that "if you don't sell, you are going to prison. We will assign people to look at every aspect of your life until we find something for which you can be prosecuted."

Chillingly parallel to what is going on in the US today.

Christopher B said...

I've been reading off and on about this, and some people are starting to speculate that there *never were* 302s from the Flynn interview as the ones produced by Mueller were from later interviews of Strokz about his participation. That seems unusual, and to me indicates that maybe Flynn didn't say exactly what they wanted him to say. Andrew McCarthy thinks Flynn was in fact lying, and lays out a pretty good case for it in a recent article, but without some documentation it's hard to determine if he flat out denied discussing certain topics or was just vauge enough to be considered untruthful. Don't forget he also lied to Pence about the same topic which doesn't really help him. I am now getting the impression that he probably realized that his conversation wasn't sufficently couched in hypotheticals to be on the good side of the line.

Tom said...

Whatever else comes of this, I think the FBI needs to start being required by law to record interviews.