Applebaum: Tell me what you think of the recent efforts to vindicate General Flynn. Do those have merit?
Strzok: No. What the Department of Justice is doing now, walking back his guilty plea, is an egregious miscarriage of justice.
Look, I don’t know what is in General Flynn’s head. What I do know is that when we interviewed him—and this is described in the book—just outside the Oval Office, he repeatedly told us things that were not the truth. We were asking him about phone calls he had had with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, calls where he had discussed the Russian response to the sanctions that the U.S. had just applied. We had listened to the calls; he knew we had listened to them. We tried to trigger his memory, multiple times, by using phrases he’d used in those conversations. And yet he kept denying that he had ever discussed them. He then didn’t tell the truth to two judges, and to the vice president.
Why? I don’t know. I will note that the Mueller investigation asked Trump, in written questions, whether he had discussed those conversations with Flynn. And he just didn’t answer.
We also uncovered deeply concerning work Flynn had done for the government of Turkey, and of course, [Barack] Obama made a point of warning Trump that his superiors had found some of his behavior troubling. But the fundamental question lurking beneath all that is: Did Flynn lie to us in order to cover up for Trump, perhaps for instructions Trump gave him to speak to Kislyak?” (The Atlantic, 9/04/2020) (Archive) (h/t @HansMahncke)
Sean Davis explains how General Flynn never discussed sanctions with Ambassador Kislyak but instead discussed the expulsion of several Russian diplomats:
(…) “Highly sought-after summaries and transcripts of intercepted phone calls between former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak contradict key claims made by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his criminal case against Flynn. The transcripts were provided to Congress on Friday and obtained by The Federalist. You can read the full documents here and here.
(…) Mueller’s operation also conflated discussions of financial sanctions levied against Russian entities and individuals via executive order on December 28, 2016 with the expulsion of Russian diplomats, which were two separate and distinct issues. In fact, the specific executive order cited by Mueller in his charging documents against Flynn pertained only to Treasury-enforced financial sanctions against nine Russian intelligence individuals and institutions, not to the separate expulsions of Russian diplomats, which were enforced by the U.S. State Department. In his remarks announcing the various maneuvers by his administration against Russia, President Obama even noted that sanctions and expulsions were entirely separate issues handled by different agencies and requiring different legal authorities.
(…) The executive order signed by Obama and referenced by Mueller had nothing to do with expulsions of Russian diplomats, which was the topic of Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak.
The transcripts show that while Kislyak obliquely raised the issue of financial sanctions against certain Russian intelligence officials, Flynn himself never discussed the financial sanctions against Russian individuals and entities levied by the Obama administration. Instead, Flynn focused on preventing U.S. “tit-for-tat” escalation following the Obama administration’s expulsion of Russian diplomats. Although Obama officials claimed via leaks to the press that Flynn, a decorated combat veteran and retired three-star Army general, was illegally operating as a secret Russian agent, the transcripts show that Flynn’s primary focus throughout his conversations with Kislyak was ensuring that Russia and the U.S. could work together to defeat Islamist terrorist and the growing influence of ISIS throughout the Middle East. Obama officials never explained how working with international partners to defeat ISIS constituted a federal crime.” (Read more: The Federalist, 5/29/2020) (Archive)