Newly unsealed documents indicate that FBI senior officials discussing ways to ensnare General Flynn in a “perjury trap” before an interview.
The four pages of documents were unsealed by US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan on Wednesday, revealing in handwritten notes and emails that the FBI’s goal in investigating Flynn may have been “to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”
The FBI — or at least the person who wrote the handwritten note most people are focusing on — seemed to be debating approaching Flynn with a several-pronged attack during a Jan. 24, 2017 interview:
(1) to seek a prosecution on the merits of his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak;
(2) to catch him in a lie; and/or
(3) to get him fired.
Handwritten notes: “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
The notes further suggest the FBI was concerned about political repercussions from newly-elected President Trump. “If we’re seen as playing games, WH will be furious,” the notes state. “Protect our institution by not playing games.”
The FBI, controversially, even floated targeting Flynn for violating the Logan Act. The law first hit the books in 1799 but was updated in 1948 and 1994.
“The suggested use of a flagrantly unconstitutional law, the Logan Act, to bag Flynn was particularly troubling. No one has ever been prosecuted under the Act for a simple reason: it is widely viewed as unconstitutional and unenforceable,” he said. “The email from Lisa Page on 18 U.S.C. 1001 is equally troubling where she suggests to Strzok that they set up Flynn for a charge under that statute since ‘it would be an easy way to just casually slip that in.'”
“Finally, the handwritten notes reveal high-level uncertainty as to the real purpose behind the interview in whether they want ‘to prosecute him or get him fired.’ That is a dangerous uncertainty and becomes quite chilling when you consider that Flynn committed no crime in speaking with the Russians about sanctions as the incoming National Security Adviser,” Turley said. “The clear impression is that that the Justice Department sought to bag a Top Trump official in the legal version of a canned hunt.”
“This new information magnifies long-standing doubts over the Flynn case. Mueller decided to pressure him into a plea despite the fact that the investigators indicated that they did not believe that he intentionally lied about this one aspect of the conversation with the Russian ambassador,” Turley continued. “In the meantime, various FBI figures lied and acted in arguably criminal or unethical ways … but all escaped without a charge. It is a record as a whole truly shocks the conscience. While rare, it is still possible for the district court to right this wrong since Flynn is not sentenced.”
But many other lawyers told Law&Crime that there was no such proof of a “set up.” On the contrary, these tactics by the FBI, especially in 18 U.S. Code § 1001 (false statements) cases, are quite common. They also invariably said that this will more than likely not affect the outcome of the Flynn case.
National security lawyer Bradley P. Moss, a partner at Zaid’s firm, said that the FBI’s tactics were “largely consistent” with what’s been going on for the last five decades.
“These tactics, while maybe unseemly to the public, are largely consistent with the very type of deceptive interrogation techniques law enforcement has been permitted to use for at least 50 years,” he said. “This isn’t a legal bombshell that is likely to save Flynn in court: it’s simply more political fodder to justify the imminent pardon from the president.”
Re Flynn: Yes, federal law enforcement routinely interviews people hoping they will confess (and get prosecuted) or lie (and get prosecuted). Yes, they plan that in advance of the interview. That's how it works. That's how it has worked for a very long time.
You: OMG, I can't believe they do this. It's outrageous!!!
Everyone involved in criminal law: Sit down. I have something to tell you and it's going to make you sad. https://t.co/xnvonSem7R
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