The dozen belated disclosures that turned the tide in Michael Flynn’s case
Long-withheld evidence of innocence revealed the FBI never thought it had a case against former Trump national security adviser.
What a difference three years makes.
During Thanksgiving 2017, retired three-star general Michael Flynn was somberly making plans to head to court and plead guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI during a late January 2017 interview, his reputation in tatters and his bank account drained.
A day before Thanksgiving this year, a jubilant Flynn took a phone call from President Trump to learn his conviction had been erased by a full pardon.
In between, a legal drama of epic proportions unfolded, one that exposed deep flaws with the FBI, the Justice Department and a news media industry that had been sold a story with many conflicting secrets.
The dramatic reversal of the Flynn case began with the determination of a new lawyer, Sidney Powell, who took over the former Trump national security advisor’s defense and relentlessly fought to unseal evidence of innocence the government had long tried to conceal.
Here are the 10 biggest (and belated) disclosures that Powell forced to light that turned the tide in a case that became a symbol of prosecutorial excesses during the Russia collusion case.
Case Closure Memo. Weeks before the FBI sought to interview Flynn, the lead FBI agent who had investigated the retired general for five months wrote a memo to close the investigation on Jan. 4, 2017, concluding he had found "no derogatory" evidence that Flynn committed a crime or posed a national security threat. FBI management then ordered the closure to be rescinded and pivoted toward trying lure Flynn into an interview.
Agent’s ‘Get Trump’ Confession. In an extraordinary interview with prosecutors this fall, the FBI agent who led the Flynn case, William Barnett, admitted there was never evidence of wrongdoing by the retired general or Russian collusion by Trump, but the probe was kept open by Special Counsel Robert Mueller because his team was obsessed with punishing the president. "With respect to Flynn’s [phone call] with the Russian ambassador in December 2016 BARNETT did not believe Flynn was being directed by TRUMP. BARNETT did not believe FLYNN had any additional information to provide SCO. Barnett believed the prosecution of Flynn by SCO was used as a means to 'get TRUMP,’” the interview stated.
Not a Russian agent. A Justice Department memo exonerated Flynn of Russia collusion on Jan. 30, 2017, nearly a year before he pled guilty. "The FBI did not believe Flynn was acting as an agent of Russia," the DOJ memo states.
‘Playing Games.’ The rush to interview Flynn in the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing created significant concerns for Assistant FBI Director for Counterintelligen