“Missouri U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen has provided additional information to the Flynn defense team highlighting a January 25th meeting between officials in the DOJ-NSD and FBI the day after Michael Flynn (code-named Razor) was interviewed in the White House.
The DOJ officials attending the meeting included: Mary McCord (NSD head), George Toscas (NSD principal deputy), Stu Evans, Tashina Guahar, and “Matt A” (possibly Matthew Axelrod (lawyer for the Deputy Attorney General). Additionally, from the FBI there was: James Baker (chief legal counsel), Bill Priestap (CoIntel head) and a redacted name. It is clear from the meeting notes the group was trying to find something to target Michael Flynn and brainstorming on what approach to take.
As noted they discussed the “Logan Act” yet found there was no reasonable way to use it and Flynn’s contact with Russian Ambassador Kislyak, during the transition, was normal.
FBI Legal Counsel James Baker asked how could you prosecute Flynn for a 1001 violation (lying to FBI officials) when you couldn’t prosecute any underlying crime because the contact with Kislyak was normal.
The “we know truth of something being falsely stated to the public” surrounds the January 15, 2017, CBS interview with Vice-President Mike Pence who conflated a question about contact with Russians during the election; with Flynn’s contact with Kislyak in the transition period.
John Dickerson: Just to button up one question, did any advisor or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE: Of course not. And I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy. (link)
The DOJ/FBI team was going to hang their hat on this conflation as a conflict between Pence and Flynn. That’s the beginning of the Russian “blackmail” narrative.
The redactions following Stu Evans and Tashina Guahar are likely only purposeful in hiding more corrupt institutional evidence. It’s doubtful those are sources and methods.
The last lines of the January 25th notes are very telling:
“assessment of whether [Flynn] is in a covert relationship with Russia ⇒ No, probably not based on facts to date and interview.”
They knew all along they were investigating a nothing-burger. That’s why they took no action from January until the special counsel came along in May and took the FARA approach in June as pressure to get Flynn to plea to a lie he never made. It was all a set up.
Here is the filing:
And with that in mind, it’s worth taking all the current information and reviewing the fully cited (soup-to-nuts) background of how the Pence -vs- Flynn ‘lying’ narrative was created.
♦In mid-December 2016 the Obama administration was deploying a full-court-press using their media allies to promote the Russia conspiracy. However, despite their extreme public proclamations DNI Clapper & CIA Brennan were refusing to give any specifics to congress.
The hard narrative was that Russia interfered. That was the specific push from within the Obama intelligence apparatus writ large. All IC officials, sans Mike Rogers (NSA), had a self-interest in pushing this narrative; after all, it was the defensive mechanism to justify their illegal spying operation and block Trump. This was their insurance policy.
The media was doing their part; and using the information leaked to them by those who were part of the 2016 operation(s) began battering the Trump transition team every hour of every day with questions about the Russia hacking narrative; thereby fertilizing the seeds of a collusion conspiracy. The Trump-Russia narrative was relentless.
On December 29, 2016, the IC produced, and rushed to completion, a ridiculous document to support their false-premise. This was called the Joint Analysis Report which claimed to outline the details of Russia’s involvement in hacking into a targeted political database or computer systems during the election. Within the JAR we were introduced to “Grizzley Steepe” and a goofy claim of Russian hackers.
On the same day (December 29, 2016) President Obama announced a series of sanctions against Russians who were located in Maryland. This was Obama’s carefully constructed response to provide additional validity to the Joint Analysis Report. After fueling the Russia conspiracy for several weeks the Obama administration knew this action would initiate a response from both Russia and the incoming Trump administration.
On the day the JAR was released and Obama made the announcement, President-elect Donald Trump and some of his key members were in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. Incoming National Security Adviser Mike Flynn was on vacation in the Dominican Republic. As expected the Obama action spurred calls between Russian emissary Kislyak and Flynn.
The Obama IC were monitoring Kislyak communications and waiting for the contact. Additionally, it was suspected Flynn was under a surveillance warrant which seemed confirmed by the Weissmann/Mueller report. Flynn was the target of an ongoing FBI investigation. He was codenamed “Crossfire Razor.”
The FBI intercepted, recorded, and later transcribed the December 29th conversation between Sergey Kislyak and incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
The media continued to follow the lead from the Obama White House and Intelligence Community (writ large) fueling a narrative that any contact with the Russians was proof of collusion of some sort. In addition, the communications team of the White House, DOJ, FBI and aggregate IC began pushing a narrative surrounding the obscure Logan Act.
The ridiculous Logan Act promotion was targeted to infer that any action taken by the Trump campaign prior to taking office was interference with the political Obama Russia action, and would be evidence of collusion. That was the plan. DOJ Deputy AG Sally Yates was in charge of pushing the Logan Act narrative to the media.
The first two weeks of January 2017 was now a merging of two necessary narratives: (1) Russian interference; and (2) the Logan Act against Flynn. Each deployed against any entity that would counter the Russia narrative story. The media were running this dual narrative 24/7 against the incoming Trump officials and demanding repeated answers to questions that were framed around this story-line.
On January 3rd, 2017, the new congressional year began. SSCI Vice-Chair Dianne Feinstein abdicated her position within the Gang-of-Eight and turned over the reigns to Senator Mark Warner. Warner was now the vice-chair of the SSCI; and a Go8 member.
On January 4, 2017, the FBI was going to drop the investigation of Flynn because they found no derogatory evidence. FBI Agent Peter Strzok demanded the investigation be kept open and the “7th Floor” agreed with him (FBI Director Comey and Deputy McCabe).
On January 5, 2017, FBI Director James Comey went to the White House for a briefing with President Obama, VP Biden, ODNI James Clapper, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.
DAG Yates had no idea the content of the Flynn Kislyak call was captured; and she had no idea ODNI James Clapper had briefed President Obama about the call.
President Obama asked Sally Yates and James Comey to remain behind after the briefing. This was memorialized by Susan Rice:
On January 6, 2017, FBI Director James Comey and ODNI James Clapper went to Trump Tower to brief the incoming administration. Simultaneously the Obama White House published the Intelligence Community Assessment and declared:
We assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence. (pdf link)
It is not coincidental the ICA was “high confidence” by Brennan and Clapper; and less confidence by Mike Rogers (NSA).
With the Flynn Dec. 29, 2016, transcript in hand, the DOJ and FBI began aiding the Logan Act narrative with Obama intelligence officials supporting the Russia Conspiracy claims and decrying anyone who would interfere or counter the official U.S. position.
On January 14th, 2017, the content of the communication between Flynn and Kislyak was leaked to the Washington Post by an unknown entity. Likely the leak came from the FBI’s counterintelligence operation. ONA Col. James Baker is suspected of leaking the content.
The FBI CoIntel group (Strzok, McCabe etc.), and the DOJ-NSD group (Sally Yates, Mary McCord etc.) were the largest stakeholders in the execution of the insurance policy phase because they were the epicenter of spygate, fraudulent FISA presentations and the formation and use of the Steele Dossier for surveillance warrants.
The media leak of the Flynn conversation with Kislyak was critical because the DOJ/FBI were pushing a political narrative. This was not about legality per se’, this effort was about establishing the framework for a preexisting investigation, based on a false premise, that would protect the DOJ and FBI. The investigation they needed to continue evolved into the Mueller special counsel. This was all insurance.
The Flynn-Kislyak leak led to Vice-President Mike Pence being hammered on January 15th, 2017, during a CBS Face the Nation interview about Trump campaign officials in contact with Russians.
Pence was exceptionally unprepared to answer the questions and allowed the media to blend questions about campaign contacts with necessary, and entirely appropriate, transition team contacts.
•Sunday January 15th, 2017 – Five Days before the inauguration VP-elect Mike Pence appears on Face The Nation. [Transcript Here]
JOHN DICKERSON: But there’s a distinction between that feeling about the press and legitimate inquiry, as you say, that the Senate Intelligence Committee is doing.
Just to button up one question, did any advisor or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE: Of course not. And I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy. (link)
*NOTE* The incoming administration was under a false-narrative siege created by the media. At the time (early Jan, 2017) ‘any contact’ with Russians was evidence of meddling/election-collusion with Russians. VP-elect Mike Pence poorly answered the question from Dickerson from a very defensive position.
The toxic media environment and Mike Pence speaking poorly during a Face The Nation interview now became a much bigger issue. The FBI was prepared to pounce on this situation.
Once Vice-President Mike Pence made the statement that Flynn had no contact with anyone from Russia etc. any contradictory statement from Flynn would make Pence appear compromised.
NSA Advisor Michael Flynn is now contrast against Pence’s false point without clarification. As National Security Advisor Flynn was interviewed by the FBI on January 24th, nine days after Pence made his comments.
•Tuesday January 24th – Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn was interviewed at the WH by the FBI.
During this ambush interview, disguised as a meeting, FBI Agent Peter Strzok and FBI Agent Joe Pientka were contrasting Vice-President-elect Pence’s statements to CBS against the known action of Mike Flynn. [Flynn has three options: either (1) Flynn contradicts Pence, or (2) he tells a lie; or (3) Flynn explains Pence misspoke, those were his options.]
How Flynn responded to the line of inquiry and explained/reconciled the difference between Pence’s statement on Jan 15th and what actually took place on December 29th, 2016, is why the FBI ended up with the initial conclusion that Flynn wasn’t lying.
It is within this dynamic where the FD-302 reports, written by Strzok and Pientka, then became the subject of political manipulation by Asst. FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
The FBI knew the content of the Flynn call with Sergey Kislyak because they were listening in. The FBI were intercepting those communications. So when Pence said no-one had any contact on January 15th, the FBI crew IMMEDIATELY knew they had an issue to exploit.
We see the evidence of the FBI knowing they had an issue to exploit, and being very nervous about doing it, in the text messages between Lisa Page and FBI Agent Peter Strzok who would end up doing the questioning of Flynn.
The day before the Flynn interview:
♦January 23, 2017, the day before the Flynn interview, Lisa Page says: “I can feel my heart beating harder, I’m so stressed about all the ways THIS has the potential to go fully off the rails.” Weird!
♦Strzok replies: “I know. I just talked with John, we’re getting together as soon as I get in to finish that write up for Andy (MCCABE) this morning.” Strzok agrees with Page about being stressed that “THIS” could go off the rails… (Strzok’s meeting w Flynn the next day)
“John” is Jonathan Moffa and “Bill” is Bill Priestap, FBI Deputy Director in charge of Counterintelligence. “Jen” is Jennifer Boone, FBI counterproliferation division.
So it’s the day before they interview Flynn. Why would Page & Strzok be stressed about “THIS” potentially going off the rails?
The answer is simple: they knew the content of the phone call between Mike Flynn and Sergey Kislyak because they were listening in, and they were about to exploit the Pence statement to CBS. In essence, they were admitting to monitoring Flynn, that’s why they were so nervous.
They were planning and plotting with Andrew McCabe about how they were going to exploit the phone-tap and the difference in public statements by VP Mike Pence. However, FBI Counterintelligence Director Bill Priestap has doubts about the validity of interviewing Flynn. Priestap has a meeting with with “DD” Deputy Director McCabe to share his concerns:
FBI Agent Strzok is worried that his boss, Bill Priestap, may disrupt the plan. He texts with Lisa Page (top of page): “I worry Bill isn’t getting the underlying distinction that I think is clear. But maybe I’m wrong.”
The day of the interview (bottom half of page above) Bill Priestap still has issues about the purpose of interviewing Flynn over a perfectly legitimate conversation. Priestap has another meeting this time with “d” FBI Director Comey and “dd” Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
FBI Agent Peter Strzok is stressed out; Bill Priestap could blow the plan if he doesn’t back down from his concerns. Lisa Page says McCabe “is frustrated” with Bill Priestap’s reluctance to go along with the plan.
Priestap, sensing something could really backfire with the plan; and questioning the overall legality of their purpose; memorializes his concern with more handwritten notes during their meeting:
The Interview Takes Place:
NSA Michael Flynn was honest but his honesty contradicted Pence’s national statement on CBS; and Flynn likely tried to dance through a needle without being overly critical of VP-elect Pence misspeaking. Remember, the alternative: if Flynn is brutally honest, the media now runs with a narrative about Vice-President Pence as a national liar.
•Wednesday January 25th, 2017, – The Department of Justice, National Security Division, (at this timeframe Mary McCord was head of the DOJ-NSD) – received a detailed readout from the FBI agents who had interviewed Flynn. Yates said she felt “it was important to get this information to the White House as quickly as possible.” That is the meeting where today’s notes come into play: