Yet another bombshell development emerged Thursday in the case of former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn: the release of additional exculpatory evidence FBI officials had withheld from the courts and the defense for three years.
Crucially, this includes evidence that the Bureau’s official “302 report” filed by the lead agent who interviewed Flynn was edited multiple times, including by an official who never participated in the interview.
Thursday’s revelations come on top of yesterday’s disclosures indicating an apparent attempt by FBI officials to trap Flynn into committing a criminal offense during an interview.
The new revelation could prove even more significant: In addition to the apparently calculated effort to get Flynn to commit perjury or obstruction, top FBI figures, including FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, repeatedly altered the “302 report” that was filed after the Flynn interview.
That interview was conducted under highly unusual circumstances. Ordinarily, an FBI interview of a top West Wing official would be requested through the White House Counsel’s office, and would be conducted in the presence of legal counsel representing the official being interviewed.
That did not occur in the case of the FBI’s interview with Flynn, and Comey later stated that under “a more organized administration” he “probably wouldn’t have gotten away with it.”
Initially, when the lead FBI agent handling the case was asked whether Flynn lied during the interview, he stated that he did not believe so.
But over the coming days Strzok and Page would edit and revise the agent’s 302 report repeatedly, according to a document providing text messages between FBI officials that the defense counsel finally received this week.
Prosecutors and investigators are required to turn over information that might tend to indicate a suspect’s innocence to the defense counsel prior to trial and sentencing. Most legal analysts would consider the information withheld from Flynn’s legal team potentially exculpatory.
An inside source familiar with efforts to defend Gen. Flynn tells Newsmax an unadulterated, original 302 document exists that was created by the lead agent from his notes of the interview with Flynn.
Jonathan Turley, the George Washington University law professor who testified before the House during President Trump’s impeachment, wrote Thursday the decision to keep the case open occurred when “Special counsel Robert Mueller … decided to bring the dubious charge.”
In a column posted on TheHill.com on Thursday, Turley said the case against Flynn should be dismissed. “Justice demands a dismissal of his prosecution,” he wrote.
At the time Flynn was being prosecuted, Mueller was seeking evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 campaign.
Critics say he was prosecuting Flynn to get him to turn state’s witness against Trump, but the general never implicated him.
Mueller eventually determined there was no evidence of a Russian-collusion conspiracy. But by then Flynn, under intense financial pressure from the prosecution and buckling under the threat that his son could be drawn into a legal quagmire, had pled guilty to one count of lying to the FBI.
He has since requested to withdraw that plea, and he is awaiting sentencing.
President Trump weighed in on the controversial case Thursday morning tweeting, “What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!”
Later the president told reporters he believes Flynn is “in the process of being exonerated.”
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik reacted strongly on Thursday to the news FBI officials to altered a 302 report and reopened the case when the initial analysis indicated no crime had been committed.
Kerik told Newsmax Thursday that if evidence or records had been unduly altered under his watch as police commissioner, he would have referred the matter to the district attorney for possible prosecution.
“They intentionally went back and doctored the original 302,” he said. “That’s because they were not looking for the truth.
“They were looking for a mechanism to trap Gen. Flynn, to prosecute him, to get him fired in order to go after the president. That was their motive, that was their agenda. It’s absolutely clear at this point they were not looking for the truth.”
Kerik added, “This was done at the highest levels of the FBI. At the most senior level of the FBI, they falsified records, they suppressed evidence.
“This is irresponsible, it’s outrageous… They used and abused their authority to deprive Gen. Flynn of his constitutional right to freedom,” he said.
According to the source, as supported by text messages also obtained by Newsmax, Stzrok, who also participated in the Flynn interview, rewrote the 302 extensively -- although a text message from him stated he tried not to “completely re-write it so as to save [redacted] voice,” presumably a reference to the lead agent who originally wrote it.
Stzrok then shared the document with a “pissed off” Page, who had not participated in the interview, and who revised it significantly again, according to the Newsmax source.
The objective of the interview was to probe whether Flynn had violated the Logan Act, an 18th-century statute that has never been used in any criminal conviction. The Act makes it a crime for a U.S. citizens to interfere with the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. Many legal scholars find the law to be unconstitutional.
The documents received by Newsmax indicate the case had virtually been closed – suggesting the lead agent was satisfied no crime had been committed -- prior to it being reopened by the direct intervention of Strzok and Page.
The documents, for example, show the probe of Flynn was about to be put to bed when the lead agent received a text from Strzok stating, “Hey, if you haven’t closed [the case], don’t do so yet.”
Apparently, Page was pleasantly surprised to find the matter had not yet been closed.
On Feb. 10, 2017, Page texted Strzok, “This document pisses me off. You didn’t even attempt to make this cogent and readable? This is lazy work on your part.”
Strzok replied, “Lisa you didn’t see it before my edits that went into what I sent you. I was 1) trying to completely re-write the thing so as to save [the lead agent’s] voice and 2) get it out to you for general review and comment in anticipation of needing it soon.”
Wednesday’s revelation included notes of a meeting conducted a short time after the 2016 election between FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. The notes stated, “What is our goal? Truth and admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
The notes were written by then-FBI head of counterintelligence Bill Priestap.
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