Damming new internal FBI documents unsealed Wednesday revealed that top bureau officials developed a plot to get former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn fired.
The documents openly questioned if their “goal” was “to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”
The documents are handwritten notes – written by the FBI’s former head of counterintelligence Bill Priestap following a meeting with then-FBI Director James Comey and then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
“What is our goal?” one of the notes read. “Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
“If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ + have them decide,” another note read. Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley called the document’s implications “chilling.”
The memo appears to weigh the pros and cons of pursuing those different paths. “I don’t see how getting someone to admit their wrongdoing is going easy on him,” one note reads. Flynn did not ultimately admit to wrongdoing in the interview.
The document indicates that the White House was monitoring the situation: “If we’re seen as playing games, WH will be furious.”
Flynn previously charged that top FBI officials, including McCabe, pressed him not to have the White House counsel present during the questioning with two agents that led to his guilty plea on a single charge of lying to federal authorities.
Flynn has withdrawn his guilty plea and has been seeking exoneration, saying the FBI engaged in “egregious misconduct.” Flynn, who has said more recently that he did not lie to the FBI, pleaded guilty in late 2017 as mounting legal fees pushed him to sell his home.
One Flynn interviewer was Peter Strzok, an anti-Trumper who has since been fired from the bureau after the discovery that he typed series of Trump hating text messages.
Strzok and ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page regularly texted to each other about their shared disdain for Trump, and affection for Clinton, even as they worked on investigations involving both Clinton and Trump. Page is now suing the government, saying she wants her therapy bills paid because Trump has mocked her.
Flynn has since obtained new counsel — and his old attorneys, it emerged this week, then failed to turn over thousands of documents to his new lawyer, Sidney Powell. Powell has maintained that Flynn’s old lawyers at Covington & Burling had conflicts of interest and were otherwise ineffective – including by not focusing on Strzok’s evident bias.
Strzok certainly wasn’t alone in his distortion of the rules when targeting Flynn.
Comey admitted in 2018 that the fateful Flynn interview at the White House didn’t follow protocol, and came at his direction. He said it was not “something I probably wouldn’t have done or maybe gotten away with in a more… organized administration.”
The documents also revealed that Page emailed Strzok concerning how to conduct the Flynn interview.
McCabe, who has admitted to lying to FBI investigators in a leak investigation, was fired for multiple violations of the FBI’s ethics code.
He has not faced any criminal charges.