Reporter Jason Leopold obtained a FOIA release of the 302’s of interviews between retired General Michael Flynn and the Special Counsel’s office during the Mueller probe. What did we learn in this release?
We learned that the Mueller Special Counsel and the FBI essentially gaslit General Flynn. Over and over throughout the interviews, they seemingly lead him to “confess” that he had calls with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak centering around the sanctions the Obama administration had imposed as they prepared to transition out of the Presidency. General Flynn did nothing of the sort.
We know this because transcripts of his calls with the ambassador were released in May of 2020. The transcripts are 28 pages in length and detail each of the phone calls the former Trump administration official had with Kislyak as the transition was ramping up. The word “sanctions” is mentioned three times among the 28 pages- twice in one sentence, and always by Kislyak, with Flynn never directly addressing them.
General Flynn spoke about reciprocity for the expulsion of diplomats. The Obama administration had expelled 35 Russian diplomats in December of 2016, just as the Trump administration was transitioning. The move was aggressive and seen by many as more aggressive even than the sanctions imposed on the government.
General Flynn never spoke about sanctions with Sergei Kislyak. Again, General Flynn, not even once, spoke about sanctions with the Russian diplomat. You would never know that from these 302’s or the posture of officials within the FBI and the Obama administration at the time. Yates, Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Pientka, and even Vice President Biden had successfully convinced an immature and inexperienced incoming administration that General Flynn had spoken about the sanctions with the diplomat, even though he was sure he hadn’t. They approached General Flynn about the sanctions so often that he began to believe it was possible he DID speak about them.
Riddled with leading questions and innuendo, the agents interviewing Flynn, often in the presence of Andrew Weissman and Robert Mueller himself, would conflate conversations General Flynn had about the sanctions with other transition officials, and craftily use that conflation to entice General Flynn to somehow “admit” these discussions with Kislyak occurred.
Here are some examples. Reading this paragraph, you can note the subtlety in which the agents drafted this initial 302. The interview was given on November 17, 2017; however, this particular 302 wouldn’t be entered into the system until January 5 of the following year, something completely outside of normal protocol for documenting a 302.
The entire transition team had been convinced due to news reporting sourced from leaks from the very people who set General Flynn up to take the fall about sanctions never discussed, and the peppering of this information by the FBI, that General Flynn had discussed sanctions. At the time, General Flynn had maintained that he did NOT speak with Kislyak about sanctions:
On and on and on- dozens and dozens of examples over a period of a year or so, where the Special Counsel tried to create an event for their purposes in order to prosecute an innocent man who didn’t do what he was accused of doing. Remember, the Special Counsel charged General Flynn for lying to them about discussing sanctions with Kislyak. When the FBI and Special Counsel came up empty on everything else, they invented a bogus Logan Act violation and attempted to get him charged there. Biden was noted as creating this angle in declassified meeting notes.
Also, there isn’t one page of 302’s in this particular release that addresses the painted as controversial, yet completely legal dealings that General Flynn had with Turkey. A complicated topic, and included in General Flynn’s plea deal, there doesn’t seem to be a single 302 to read about the supposed FARA violations that caused a completely uneducated judge to accuse a decorated patriot and war hero in General Flynn, of treason.
In essence, we didn’t learn much new information from these 302’s, other than a few things being reaffirmed. The FBI and Special Counsel were responsible for a setup. They set General Flynn up, and they did so in the most nefarious of ways. While having the transcripts of the General’s call with Kislyak- they continued to parrot the manufactured narrative that General Flynn had spoken to the Ambassador about sanctions, something that had never happened. They used Obama holdovers to parrot that narrative throughout the brand new and unorganized Trump administration. They were so effective that an honest man in General Flynn actually started to believe that he might have spoken about sanctions with Kislyak. In a declaration filed in the case when he sought to withdraw his plea, he made several statements to that effect (General Flynn’s declaration starts on page 161):
The entire dark power establishment came for General Flynn because he was set to fundamentally change diplomacy and the Intelligence Community in the Trump administration. Weak members of the transition didn’t do their due diligence and instead “fired” one of the greatest assets they had.
General Flynn was an innocent man, and these 302’s further prove that innocence.