In a Bid to Jettison Flynn, Trump Suggests Hope Hicks and Steve Bannon Lied to the FBI

In the wake of yesterday’s disclosures in the Mike Flynn docket, Judge Emmet Sullivan issued three somewhat confusing orders demanding that the government provide transcripts and Mueller Report passages relating to Flynn

With respect, Judge Sullivan, if you’re going to order additional files released, please also ask the government to release a less redacted version of Mike Flynn’s original 302, which is docket #62-1, redacted sections of which (especially pertaining to the meeting at which Jared Kushner asked for a back channel with Russia) appear in unredacted form in the Mueller Report, and which was inexplicably not included in the WaPo request.

In any case, perhaps because Sullivan asked for files that may be very damning (especially if they include the contacts Flynn had with Kislyak before the election, which aren’t discussed in the Mueller Report), Donald Trump now claims he didn’t know Flynn was under a counterintelligence investigation and would have replaced him had he known.

Of course he knew. Obama warned Trump against hiring Flynn on November 10, 2016. And it’s no longer just three former Obama officials who say that. According to the Mueller Report, both Hope Hicks and Steve Bannon not only corroborate that Obama warned Trump, but their FBI testimony makes it clear that Trump was really bugged about Obama’s warning.

Several witnesses said that the President was unhappy with Flynn for other reasons at this time. Bannon said that Flynn’s standing with the President was not good by December 2016. Bannon 2/12/18 302, at 12. The President-Elect had concerns because President Obama had warned him about Flynn shortly after the election. Bannon 2/12/18 302, at 4-5; Hicks 12/8/17 302, at 7 (President Obama’s comment sat with President-Elect Trump more than Hicks expected). Priebus said that the President had become unhappy with Flynn even before the story of his calls with Kislyak broke and had become so upset with Flynn that he would not look at him during intelligence briefings. Priebus 1/18/18 302, at 8. Hicks said that the President thought Flynn had bad judgment and was angered by tweets sent by Flynn and his son, and she described Flynn as “being on thin ice” by early February 2017. Hicks 12/8/17 302, at 7, 10. [my emphasis]

No lesser Trump supporter than Bannon says that at the time Mike Flynn called up the Russian Ambassador and undermined the policy the President of the United States had just implemented, Trump was already concerned about the warnings that Obama gave him.

As I have noted, the evidence in the Mueller Report — as well as the silences about most earlier things Flynn did that raised counterintelligence concerns — suggest that Mueller has to believe that Flynn did what he did with Trump’s blessing. Otherwise Mueller would have had abundant evidence that Flynn, while freelancing, hiding that he was freelancing, and lying about it to the FBI, did things that directly benefitted the Russian state and undermined US policy.

Sullivan’s moves (which may be an attempt to explain why he raised such sharp questions about Flynn’s loyalty last December) may reveal evidence to substantiate that.

Which, in turn, may be why Trump is accusing two of his closest aides of lying to the FBI to pretend he didn’t get the warning from Obama they say he did.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

88 replies
  1. Jeremiah Kristal says:

    So how are the Q-idiots going to react to Trump trying to jettison Flynn? Do they side with Trump and turn on Flynn, or do they immediately decide that Flynn wasn’t being railroaded, and they knew he was compromised all along?

      • Avattoir says:

        Perhaps something like an off-setting effect might derive from Sullivan eventually turning out to have served as a kind of judicial Wilhelm Furtwängler in leading a chorus of his district court siblings to effectively un-redact those parts of the Mueller investigation entrusted to the courts by the Special Counsel’s Office.

        • LizB says:

          “…as a kind of judicial Wilhelm Furtwängler…”

          In an era of ‘la-la-la-I’m-not-listening,’ your reference makes me indescribably happy.

  2. klynn says:

    Tr—-p’s tweet today, that you note above, should have him removed from office immediately. It demonstrates he is a security risk.

    • P J Evans says:

      It certainly demonstrates that he lies to everyone, including himself, and needs to be in a secure residence where he won’t have to deal with unpleasant stuff like reality.

  3. Adam says:

    Marcy, on twitter you reference Trump’s attempts to “pay off” wikileaks. What’s that about? Honest question – did we/I miss something?

    • Flounder2 says:

      I think This refers to various schemes to pardon Assange, and also a conversation between Assange and Dim Jr about making Assange ambassador to Australia.

      • Adam says:

        Ah, that makes sense – also explains why Marcy keeps harping about Trump’s refusal to answer Mueller’s question about Assange pardons. Honestly, the amount of detail in the public reporting on this issue is overwhelming. I have a hard time keeping up.

      • Hika says:

        Assange’s message to Failson #1 was to ask his dad to ask Australia to make Assange the Australian Ambassador to the US, not US Amb to Aust. In any event, at least Assange had enough sense to know the Australia certainly wouldn’t do that, but he did think that Trump talking up Assange would somehow get Australia, the UK and Sweden to somehow think better of Assange and stop being mean to him. A desperate dream of a desperate, self-deluded man whose best possible future is living in a hotel room down the corridor from Ed Snowden.

  4. Willis Warren says:

    He’s fucked and he knows it. He’s obviously under a lot of duress, and the best play for him is this “deep state” bullshit from fat fuck Barr. This is going to get really, really, really ugly.

    • Hops says:

      Does he resign and get pardoned by Pence like Ford pardoned Nixon? Before or after the 2020 election?

      He doesn’t have to win in 2020 to stay out of jail in 2021 if he makes Pence #46…

      • J R in WV says:

        I would think that IF Trump resigns, and that IF Dence Pence subsequently pardons Trump for all unspecified high crimes and misdemeanors, there is no way Pence gets the nomination, and it he does grasp the nomination somehow, will lose the general election by totals impossible to fraudulently overcome.

        Gerald Ford was far more popular than Pence or Trump, and lost pretty well in his only general election run after his pardon of tricky Dick NIxon. I’m thinking that no one likes Pence outside of his core family, and Mother doesn’t appear to trust him or like him.

        • Barb says:

          Pence could just wait to pardon Trump until election is over and no sooner if he wants the nomination.

      • BobCon says:

        My first instinct is that he waits until after November 2020 if he does this. I’m not sure that he does, though — maybe he holds out hope for a Supreme Court rescue, who knows what his health will be like then, etc. Or, heavens help us, he is reelected.

        The wildcard to me is what Pence does. He may be thinking of the risks to his own ambitions if he pardons a guy with a bad reputation, especially if state charges are looming anyway. Another scenario is he may not want to be president for a short period, demands Trump resign soon in order to give Pence a chance to run a real reelection campaign, and Trump won’t do it.

        Of course, Trump may dump the decision on Pence by surprise, calculating that Pence when caught by surprise on Christmas Eve 2020 has no time to dither and goes ahead with a pardon.

        • Willis Warren says:

          We’re in a situation where, if he loses, he’s gonna go to jail. So, he’s gonna use EVERYTHING in his power to win, and that’s gonna result in mass uprisings and violence. This is stupid for Republicans to ignore.

        • RWood says:

          His only option at this point would be a deal; resignation in exchange for the dropping of all federal and state charges for him and his kids. Something I don’t see anyone offering or him accepting. He’ll go down with the boat and take the entire crew with him.

          But you’re right, desperate people do desperate things. So nothing would surprise me once this all comes down to the wire.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump was already concerned about the warnings that Obama gave him [about Flynn].

    Suggests that Trump was also worried about what else Obama and his law enforcement, treasury, and intelligence agencies knew about Trump’s businesses and his campaign to win the White House. He could not safely assume that information, if any, would have been siloed.

    • Mitch Neher says:

      I seem to remember something about Don Jr. knowing about Flynn’s contact with Kislyak in December of 2015. If Trump thinks that the FBI should have warned him about Flynn back in December of 2015, then . . . [Wait. There’s more than one way to complete that thought . . . (processing) . . . ] . . . Why didn’t the FBI warn Trump about Don Jr. way back in December of 2015?

  6. george says:

    General Flynn, was quite helpful to President Trumps campaign, as well as spending much time during the campaign with our future president. The retired General is a James Bond in real life. Knows a great deal about the various countries, and spying. I really think our president see’s himself in his imagination as a James Bond, a General Flynn. Oh well unfortunately he is not.

    There is much more to Trump, much more to this story, then we have been shown. It would be fun to play fill in the blanks.

    • Reader 21 says:

      Huh. The federal judge asked the prosecutors why “James Bond,” as you (and literally no one else) call him, wasn’t being charged with treason. I happen to think there’s not much “fun” about palling around with mobsters and poisonous dictators who plant bombs in the apartment buildings of their own citizens (see Litvinenko deathbed testimony, et al) but maybe that’s just me.

  7. OldTulsaDude says:

    With impeachment and removal impossible due to a complicit Senate, the best strategy for a Democratic contender for the WH may be a promise of criminal prosecution for the deeds of Individual-1 once he is out of office. It is about time someone in a blue jersey makes the actions and consequences personal.

    • bmaz says:

      For the nine millionth time, the question is NOT about actual articles of impeachment being voted on and sent to the Senate for trial. That is now, and has been all along absolutely BOGUS disinformation.

      The issue is merely opening an impeachment inquiry in order to solidify the House investigatory power with a direct Constitutional underpinning. When people, whether here or anywhere else, talk about the “impossibility” of removal by the Senate, they do the public and the Constitution a severe disservice. PLEASE stop doing this.

      • pjb says:

        Aren’t there really two important reasons for beginning a formal impeachment inquiry? One is clearly as you say, to “solidify the House investigatory power with a direct Constitutional underpinning” for purposes of maximizing the House’s position in Court to enforce its subpoenas. The other is to educate the electorate who cannot or will not read a 445 page single-spaced report or follow the ins-and-outs of emoluments cases, security clearance overrules or other of this President’s manifold abuses of office? People like to watch good tv shows, like impeachment hearings can be. Who knows, if done correctly, it might ultimately sway public opinion to the extent a Senate vote on removal might become feasible (even if that’s not the issue today)? Or soften Trump’s seemingly monolithic support within his party to encourage a primary challenge?

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, absolutely. But with the complete refusal of the Administration to comply with any oversight whatsoever, it is imperative to get that power immediately.

        • OldTulsaDude says:

          I agree that an impeachment inquiry is necessary, and the sooner the better. Regardless, political realities still apply.

        • bmaz says:

          I am of the opinion that the oath of office to defend the Constitution is not for only when it is politically expedient. Since the start of this Union, men and women have died to defend the Constitution that these chickenshit Dems are too timid to do.

        • P J Evans says:

          Neal certainly is a chickenshit D. He wasn’t happy about getting those tax returns, and put off doing anything as long as he could. (He should have gotten moving on it about a month earlier than he did.)

        • P J Evans says:

          If they can’t read the report, or find good summaries online, they’re unlikely to watch months of hearings – assuming they get actual coverage by anyone other than C-SPAN.

        • pjb says:

          Come on, fellow PJ. Who read Roots versus who watched Roots? TV is easy and it is passive. And it moves people’s minds – where would Trump be without The Apprentice to delude them to thinking he’s an actual successful businessman. Still stuck on page 6 of the NY Post.

          Iran-Contra, which was convoluted and far less cinematic than this shit-show, was truly riveting. Poindexter and Ollie North and Fawn Hall and the papers stuffed in her boots? That’s TV gold. Reading, especially a dry lawyerly report with footnotes and redactions is very hard. I find it quite hard to believe that House Impeachment Hearings would be relegated to CSPAN. It could be a nielson bonanza: make it episodic: a different instance of obstruction each month, a month on emoluments, a month on security clearance abuse, a month on Trump Tower Moscow. Sell it to Netflix and bingewatch!

        • P J Evans says:

          hearings are long, slow, and, most of the time, boring. (I watched the Watergate hearings.)

        • RWood says:

          The hearings will be held during the day and distilled down to the juicy parts by the time the evening news runs. They’ll see the front page headlines as well in both pixels and ink. It’ll be rehashed over and over every Sunday morning. There won’t be a place they can go to where it won’t be in their face.

          People will get the message.

          Now if Pelosi would just do her damn job….

        • P J Evans says:

          Pelosi IS doing her job. She’s trying to keep the Ds in the House on the same page, so that all the hearings will get to the news media (well, not to Fox) and people will find out what’s going on. It’s not easy, given that some of them would prefer not rocking that income boat (Neal), and some are people we really don’t need on our side. (Cuellar – Sinema – Lipinski).

        • Tom says:

          I recall there were complaints from afternoon TV soap opera viewers about their shows being pre-empted by the Watergate hearings.

        • Rayne says:

          Recall the soap operas’ core audience in the early 1970s: women who didn’t work outside the house who perceived themselves as mere chattel in a political machine.
          Women's participation in US workforce over time

          The workforce has changed substantially since then. The shift has nearly killed off soap operas; there are only four left now. More content from Congressional hearings actually becomes content consumed via the internet, augmenting entertainment. The change in women’s attitudes about themselves over nearly two generations since Watergate combined with increased representation by women in Congress will also factor into audience acceptance of impeachment hearings held today.

          Add the implicit contributions of Mr. Reality TV CEO and the response to impeachment hearings is sure to be night-and-day different from the Nixon hearings.

          Good gravy, having any of the Democratic women of this 116th Congress asking questions will make Must-See TV.

        • P J Evans says:

          I was watching the hearings while at my grandmother’s house – she was starting the process of cleaning up to sell the place. (There was still stuff in the garage from my grandfather’s shop – the baby-food jars of small stuff, as I recall – but it was otherwise empty. And he’d died in 1961.)
          Yes, Granny watched some soap operas. But at 88, she had the right to do that.

        • P J Evans says:

          I didn’t read OR watch “Roots”. But I’ve been working on my own family tree for more than 40 years…and there are some interesting sidelines to it.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A more effective promise would be to support an impeachment inquiry and to follow where its facts lead. But, yes, Trump might try to pardon himself, but that won’t limit state action. He would not voluntarily yield office to Pence (or to anyone else), whom he thinks is a dork and (ironically) a useful idiot. He also thinks, like an adolescent, that he’s invulnerable.

      • Mitch Neher says:

        The fullest possible measure of evidence that can be brought to bear against Trump at an Impeachment Trial in The Senate will make the Republicans pay a far stiffer penalty at the polls on election day in 2020 for their presumed acquittal of Trump. Or they could have a change of heart. And we could go out driving on Slow Hand Road.

        • bmaz says:

          There will never be an impeachment trial in the Senate. And it is not even necessarily the point in opening an impeachment inquiry. The media, and Dem House leadership does a pathetic job in conveying this.

        • Mitch neher says:

          Would a remaining point then be to get the fullest measure of evidence against Trump into the public record?

          It had previously been argued that we do a disservice to the constitution by decrying the supposed impossibility of Trump’s conviction and removal from office.

  8. PeteT says:

    Starting to get a twitch every time I think Obama might want to say some things in public at a House hearing sooner or later.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Note to MSM: Anti-abortion zealotry is manifestly NOT “pro-life.” The phrase is a euphemism for a vehemently anti-women agenda. Using words accurately and well is a journalist’s job. Start doing it.

    • J R in WV says:

      I agree with The Earl here. I would think that it’s obvious that Planned Parenthood and related people working to keep abortion like all other medical procedures are far more pro-life than the Patriarchal Theocratic women haters who call themselves pro-life.

      The quote from the ‘Bama legislator reveals it all “that fertilized egg (in a fertility clinic) isn’t in a woman, there is no pregnancy” shows that they don’t give a shit about zygotes at all, they just want more control over women and their sex parts. Despicable haters, all of them!

      • Mainmata says:

        Exactly. In most of these states, unless you have full health insurance, the states will not even provide prenatal care while the fetus that they fetshize is still a fetus let alone after the baby is born. This indeed is all about controlling women’s bodies. Full stop.

        • StickOUTNeck says:

          Follow the money. If you look at 39,000.00 per adoption then all the rest makes sense. Tracking the menstrual cycles of immigrants but not which children belong to which parents, disallowing abortion by calling an embryo a person and allowing in vitro fertilization even though it contradicts. It’s another form of human trafficking and the misery of women is just a necessary byproduct.

        • P J Evans says:

          They don’t think women and minorities are really people with rights. Start there, and everything else follows.

    • RWood says:

      One that subject.

      It’s “going low”, but I’d like to see Larry Flynt offer six figures to anyone with proof of a Trump abortion.

      I’d start with a certain Playboy Bunny, one who got a check from “David Dennison”.

    • Rayne says:

      Even ‘anti-abortion’ doesn’t work. When we are talking about right-wing zealots who deny that rape is ever nonconsensual and insist that minors must carry their rapists’ forcible impregnation to term, we are talking about FORCED BIRTH adherents.

      FORCED BIRTH — complete with the 1-in-3000 risk of maternal mortality and other complications like fistulas.

  10. OldTulsaDude says:

    OT snark – apologies but I can’t help myself.

    “FBI testimony makes it clear that Trump was really bugged about Obama’s warning.”
    Perhaps this is the source of AG Barr’s “spying” claims?

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bill Barr says that some of the explanations he’s heard for the origins of the Russia investigation “do not hang together.”

    I need a new irony meter, Bill Barr just broke another one.

    • OldTulsaDude says:

      Speaking of Bill Barr, why wouldn’t misprision of a felony be the underlying crime? After all, the campaign knew about the hacks yet told no one.

  12. oldpaint says:

    From the wording of Trump’s tweet (“with me being one of two people who would become president”), he is now trying to cast blame back before the election, and before the Obama warning.

    With regard to the unlikelihood of impeachment and removal, it seems to me that impeachment without conviction in the Senate might be the best outcome. Trump remains in office, but it is near the end of his term and all of his misdeeds (or many of them anyway) have been laid out for the honest world to see. Pence does not become president and cannot pardon Trump. If the American people then re-elect Trump, we are doomed, but I don’t think impeachment would make than more likely.

    It’s hard for me to imagine Trump resigning in order to get a pardon, but I guess that’s possible. Either way, the Democrats are wasting time.

    • Mainmata says:

      Clinton approval rating before impeachment: 66%. Clinton approval rating after impeachment: 66%.

      • Jockobadger says:

        In what way are the Clinton impeachment and a potential tr*mp impeachment remotely comparable? The underlying offense(s) certainly are not.

        Are you suggesting that opening an impeachment inquiry of tr*mp would be a waste of time? Just curious. Thanks!

        • RWood says:

          Public support for impeachment of Nixon on the day they started the investigation, 19%.

          The day he resigned, 57%.

          Trump is at 45% as of today, up 5% in the last 30 days.

        • P J Evans says:

          Whose survey? Because that matters a lot. (Generally, his approval rating has been running about 40%, varying by 2 to 3%.)

        • Bri2k says:

          It’s even worse than that. When you pull out the slanted polls (Rasmussen, et. al.) his real support has been stuck between 27% – 30% and has dipped as low as 23% (Nixonian levels).

          The media loves to report high numbers for him. Be especially wary of any polling that starts with “likely R voters” as less than a third of the electorate identifies as Republican.

      • Yohei72 says:

        The public saw Clinton being impeached for lying in a lawsuit about an office affair. The optics on what will come out about Trump and his people are considerably different.

        I’m not claiming to know for sure how the public would react to impeachment hearings, but the comparison between the two situations is dubious.

        • Jockobadger says:

          “I’m not claiming to know for sure how the public would react to impeachment hearings, but the comparison between the two situations is dubious.”

          My point exactly, Yohei. I would even go so far as to say extremely dubious. The level of dastardly criminality and deceit exhibited by tr*mp makes the Clinton “impeachment” pale by comparison. I think the American people will finally acknowledge this – or at least many of the ones that don’t already will.

  13. SteveR says:

    Isn’t it fair to say that we already know Flynn wasn’t “freelancing”? Whether or not Mueller could prove Trump knew, Mueller nonetheless stated that Flynn’s interactions with Kislyak were undertaken in Flynn’s capacity “as a representative of the transition team.” I can’t imagine Muller using those words if he thought there was any chance Flynn had in any way gone rogue.

  14. Viktor Burakov says:

    The fact that anonymous people on the interweb thingy seem better informed and more receptive to what needs to be done while Pelosi and the rest of the Dem enablers should scare all you good people at least as much as anything Trump / Barr / McConnell have so far achieved.

    America is 95% finished, you folks have now entered the home straight.

    • Rayne says:

      I’m not certain what this throwaway comment is supposed to do. I do think you might consider concentrating on your own backyard if you can’t add something more constructive.

      Welcome to emptywheel.

    • Hops says:

      Putin wants the second American Civil War. Not getting it. Democracy will emerge stronger because a new generation will come to understand authoritarianism and tyranny — the sort they had in England in 1776 and have in Russia still in 2019.

      • Pablo in the Gazebo says:

        The phrase that Viktor is looking for is “home stretch”, not “home straight”. The kind of mistake one might make while translating.

        • Rayne says:

          I like sharing these kinds of comments from time to time so community members see what’s cooking on the otherside. Not one of the really icky ones but just off enough to give a flavor of the trolls’ caliber.

        • Bri2k says:

          I see the same thing happening over on the Palmer Report and Talking Points Memo. Anytime more bad stuff bubbles up, those St. Petersburg troll farms start going into over-drive.

          Thanks for the peek behind the curtain. They fact that they’re trying to disrupt Emptywheel shows just how desperate they are.

  15. Tom S. says:

    EW: I have been debating a close family member since the 2016 election. Convinced him to read your posts and he has seemed impressed. Today, however, he honed in on the “only two of us” reference in today’s Trump tweet. He points out that Flynn was one of four named as a subject of Crossfire Hurricane CI investigation as early as July, 2016. Is it your contention Obama or anyone else briefed Trump before Jan. 20, 2017 that Flynn was under CI investigation?

    • Reader 21 says:

      The reason Flynn’s calls to the Russians got picked up—is because he was calling.the.effing.Russians!

      • P J Evans says:

        This is so obvious to us that I have trouble understanding how the Tr*mp supporters can’t get it. Do they really think we aren’t paying attention to that kind of thing?

        (ETA: I’m probably on someone’s list, because I bought a *knitting book* from Russia a few years ago. It’s one where only 2000 were printed in the first place, and there’s no English translation..)

        • Andrew Thompson says:

          It is standard counterintelligence practice to monitor the communications of the Ambassador of Russia. If you call him, you will be recorded. End of story.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, sure. And they surveill us too. That is an age old story. But that is not “spying” on Trump and his campaign. That is doing your job as the IC.

          How did the discussion get from the logical there, to the illogical Trump and greater GOP, including Barr, nonsense?

  16. bloopie2 says:

    Trump seems quite capable at twisting the truth, spreading disinformation, knowing how far he can go with his base, etc. The guy is definitely not stupid when it comes to presenting himself. So, why is he not skilled (or educable) in other, actually useful, things?

    • Tom says:

      Trump is only effective in reaching the relatively small portion of the population who are predisposed to believe him (or anyone else who tells them what they want to believe) in the first place. His blatant lies are just an attempt to baffle with bullshit and I’m not sure how successful he would have been in life if he hadn’t come from a wealthy family and been a millionaire by the time he was 8 years old.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If there were an annual horse race for journalists who ask the most important, incisive questions of the most interesting people of the moment, Chuck Todd would finish last every single year. By three lengths.

  18. somecallmetim says:

    Is there a counter like the Washington Post’s DJT lie tracker, one that tally’s his calling / implying XXX lied, when XXX was subject to perjury for lying?

    /frosted cookie

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