Government notes about the FBI’s interview with former Trump national security adviser Lt. Gen Michael Flynn show the agents believed he was truthful and “very open and forthcoming” about his contacts with Russians.
Just the News investigative reporter John Solomon reported the evidence conflicts with the bureau’s charge that Flynn was lying to agents.
The handwritten notes by Tashina Gauhar, who then was a deputy assistant attorney general, said FBI agents during the Jan. 25, 2017, meeting told the Justice Department Flynn was “telling truth as he believed it” and he “believe[d] that what he said was true.”
The notes were turned over to Flynn’s defense counsel this month.
A DOJ memo describing Flynn as “very open and forthcoming” said he did not commit any crime. Nevertheless, Flynn was charged with lying in a prosecution that was part of special counsel Robert’s Mueller’s multi-million dollar special counsel investigation. After nearly two years, Mueller found insufficient evidence to back the claim of Trump-Russia collusion.
Solomon reported the notes were written by Gauhar, fired FBI lead investigator Peter Strzok and former DOJ and FBI official Dana Boente.
The notes add to the large body of belatedly released evidence indicating the FBI did not believe it had grounds to charge Flynn.
Boente wrote that the FBI believed Flynn was not an agent of Russia.
And the notes indicate the DOJ didn’t believe a Logan Act prosecution was possible.
“The notes also confirm previously released evidence showing the FBI planned on Jan. 4, 2017, to close down its investigation of Flynn but then reversed course,” Solomon reported. “Remarkably, the FBI claimed to DOJ the reason it kept the Flynn probe open and interview him was because a news media leak of a classified transcript of his call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.”
The case against Flynn now is before a federal appeals court, which ordered a trial court judge, Emmet Sullivan, to grant the DOJ’s request that the prosecution be dropped. He’s refused so far and has asked the appeals court for another chance at making charges stick.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said it is giving Flynn and the Department of Justice 10 days to respond to the petition from Sullivan for a rehearing.
Sullivan essentially moved from the role of judge to prosecutor when he refused the DOJ’s request to dismiss the case. He’s continued despite orders from an appellate court.
Judge Neomi Rao, a 2019 Trump appointee, authored the opinion of the three-judge panel ordering Sullivan to dismiss the case. She was joined by George H.W. Bush appointee Judge Karen Henderson.
Rao wrote: “In its motion, the government explains that in light of newly discovered evidence of misconduct by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the prosecution can no longer prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any false statements made by Flynn were material to a legitimate investigation.”
The judge said it is “plainly not the rare case where further judicial inquiry is warranted.”
“To begin with, Flynn agrees with the government’s motion to dismiss, and there has been no allegation that the motion reflects prosecutorial harassment,” Rao said. “Additionally, the government’s motion includes an extensive discussion of newly discovered evidence casting Flynn’s guilt into doubt. … Insufficient evidence is a quintessential justification for dismissing charges.”
Flynn withdrew his plea of guilty to the charge of lying to FBI agents, claiming he was the victim of a “perjury trap.”
Evidence recently unsealed in the case confirmed his claim, showing FBI agents — after the bureau was prepared to close the investigation for lack of evidence — discussing how to get him to lie.