Mike Flynn’s “Cooperation” Did Not Extend to Remembering Bob Foresman’s Back Door Discussions

In the wake of yesterday’s revelation that someone “connected to Congress” reached out to Flynn to try to dissuade him from cooperating with Mueller, CNN has a story about how Flynn himself reached out to Matt Gaetz to encourage his attacks on Mueller.

Which makes me seriously reconsider a detail I’ve been pondering in the Mueller Report. The Report describes how Bob Foresman — who contacted the campaign about setting up a back channel in spring 2016 and then tried to get a job in the Administration — also went out of his way to tell Mike Flynn whom he should meet with during the transition period.

Flynn met with the guy twice: once in December (at the time he and Jared Kushner were asking Kislyak about a back channel) and once again in January.

Bob Foresman, the UBS investment bank executive who had previously tried to transmit to candidate Trump an invitation to speak at an economic forum in Russia, see Volume I, Section IV.A.l.d.ii, supra, may have provided similar information [suggesting that Yuri Ushakov, not Sergei Kislyak, would be the guy to contact on serious matters] to the Transition Team. According to Foresman, at the end of an early December 2016 meeting with incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and his designated deputy (K.T. McFarland) in New York, Flynn asked Foresman for his thoughts on Kislyak. Foresman had not met Kislyak but told Flynn that, while Kislyak was an important person, Kislyak did not have a direct line to Putin. 1132 Foresman subsequently traveled to Moscow, inquired of a source he believed to be close to Putin, and heard back from that source that Ushakov would be the official channel for the incoming U.S. national security advisor. 1133 Foresman acknowledged that Flynn had not asked him to undertake that inquiry in Russia but told the Office that he nonetheless felt obligated to report the information back to Flynn, and that he worked to get a face-to-face meeting with Flynn in January 2017 so that he could do so.1134 Email correspondence suggests that the meeting ultimately went forward, 1135 but Flynn has no recollection of it or of the earlier December meeting.1136 (The investigation did not identify evidence of Flynn or Kushner meeting with Ushakov after being given his name. 1137)

All that information comes from an October 17, 2018 Foresman interview with the FBI and emails. Flynn — who started cooperating just 10 months after the second meeting — had his lawyer tell Mueller that he didn’t remember either of those meetings. That happened on September 26, 2018.

9/26/18 Attorney Proffer from Covington & Burling LLP (reflected in email on file with the Office).

That email happened 9 days after the government told the Judge Sullivan — on September 17 — that it was time to sentence Flynn. Contrary to what a lot of reports have suggested, Flynn hasn’t been interviewed since then.

That may mean nothing.

But Foresman seems like a guy pretty persistently trying to forge back channels between Trump and Russia. And in spite of Flynn’s “cooperation,” he claims to have remembered none of that.

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. 

95 replies
  1. Badger Robert says:

    That reads like Flynn never needed Foresman. Also Flynn may have considered him a stooge and a plant.

      • Badger Robert says:

        I don’t know. But there is no inherent conflict between Flynn being a true believer, and Flynn having a strong sense of self preservation. The best way for a spy to survive is to be useful to both sides.

        • Americana says:

          Gen. Flynn was wading into deeper waters than he’d ever done previously when Trump asked him to set up a Russian back channel. Sure, Flynn had made financial arrangements w/the Turks to benefit himself by delaying American strategy in Syria but that was likely because the Turkish strategic request about not supporting the Kurdish resistance fighters may have aligned w/Flynn’s own strategic evaluation in Syria. But Trump’s demands about creating a Russian back channel engaged a whole other level of potential hazards to Flynn’s geopolitical worldview and what he thought of Trump as a POTUS making such demands. Had Trump’s efforts viz Russia been disguised enough around Flynn that Flynn might have been lulled into thinking they were semi-OK? I’d love to hear testimony right now from all the principals in the Trump-Russia investigation including the guy — Roger Stone who (sort of) got away — thanks to AG Barr possibly forcing Mueller into wrapping it up.

    • MattyG says:

      Vlad may have preferred a few additional layers of insulation. Besides, how confident are we that the Kushner Flynn Kislyak back channel *wasn’t* set up?

      • Larry Johnson says:

        It is interesting that regarding establishing a secure communication channel in the Russian embassy, Kislyak himself “quickly rejected that idea”. Almost like, hey guys, I’m trying to keep you out of trouble. No, this wasn’t a set up, it was Kushner not understanding how stupid an idea this was. Kislyak rightly understood that this would create huge problems for Trump down the line.

        • MattyG says:

          Confident that statement reflected reality? Moscow was playing their hand very well, a coy brush-off from Kislyak should illicit more scepticism. Moscow pulled Kislyak out shortly afterwards as well.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          How can you tell when a professional diplomat-spy is lying? That Kislyak (or Putin or Trump) says he “rejected” an idea does not mean he rejected it. It means it was useful to make that claim.

          One would need to verify it using more than self-serving statements. More often, one does it through assessing probabilities, which is why history and individual past behavior are important for more than baseball.

          Trump knows no history and recognizes no one but himself, which is one reason he is “a fucking idiot” outside a tiny range. That’s an accurate assessment, not an epithet. It’s why he thinks he can do a Karl Rove and invent whatever facts he needs to make himself look good.

          If Trump recently shot a 68 at golf, he’s 6’4″, 190 lbs., and I’m a teapot. Unfortunately, Trump also lies about much bigger things – but to him, they’re all the same, because they’re about him. A 10 out of 10 narcissist.

          • orionATL says:

            i suspect the president’s core use of lies, which date at least from his teenage years, is to continually create the self he does not otherwise seem to have. think of it, how many of the lies have to do with self-aggrandizement? his first major (and totally unnecessary – it was rainy after all) lie as president had to do with how many people attended his inauguration.

            this suggests to me an unstable personality built – and almost daily rebuilt – on self-generated fantasies of grandiosity. it would be no surprise then that our president would be no friend of reading or reality analysis. it might explain why he is drawn to nut cases like bannon, flynn, bolton, or miller on the one hand, and can be manipulated by hard-eyed realists like pence, pompeo, or manuchin on the other.

            trump’s lies could serve related purposes, an important one being to keep blame for error or failure away from himself. this use would serve to protect the artificiaal core self.

            lies aside, it seems that some of the barrage of angry tweets from presdent thumbs serves to defend the self. it is hard to imagine presidents obama or bush bothering with this tediousness?

            • Ruthie says:

              This rings so true for me:

              “an unstable personality built – and almost daily rebuilt – on self-generated fantasies of grandiosity”

              What drives that cycle may be a deeply buried self-loathing so profound his efforts at building an alternate image are doomed to failure, and are therefore endlessly repeated.

              • P J Evans says:

                The experts are pegging him as a malignant narcissist. He’s been a narcissist since he was a small child, and has been getting worse as he’s aged.

        • Mainmata says:

          This is the defining characteristic of Kushner. He’s basically a trumped up crappy NYC slumlord who happened to marry the daughter of his father who has a similar crappy NY/NJ business career but somehow got “elected” president (only because of the EC). IOW, Kushner’s brief political career has been one of promotion to failure. He knows nothing about national policy let alone foreign policy and so, unsurprisingly, he has been utterly incompetent in completing his homework. What is hilarious is his apparent complete lack of self awareness of what a failure he has been. In an only partial defense of him, his father-in-law was irresponsible in assigning him to “solve” some of America’s most long-standing and difficult problems, which just shows how unserious Trump is as president

          • P J Evans says:

            It’s not just that Tr*mp is “unserious” as president – it’s that everything he knows about the job is from watching the news, and all he that paid attention to was the “show” part: the dinners, travel, and meeting VIPs. He never has done the hard part of anything: school, jobs, even his fake “reality TV” shows.

            • Mainmata says:

              Agreed but not every news source just Trump’s propaganda channel, i.e. Fox. Although, apparently, he very occasionally tunes into CNN too.(It’s worth noting that CNN International is completely different; it might as well be a different network but they know they’re competing with BBC.)

          • Americana says:

            Trump’s nepotism may revolve around the fact he needs to have his business advisors close for whenever possible deals crop up in his role as POTUS. He would not be able to do this w/Don Jr. because his businesses are supposedly in a blind trust (even though he’s being briefed on their status monthly at least). With Jared Kushner, there is at least a veneer that he’s not Trump’s business partner.

  2. StringOnAStick says:

    As I recall, it seemed that Flynn cooperated mainly to save his completely wing nut son, who didn’t have enough sense to stop poking at the cloud of Mueller hornets circling his dad even after cooperation started and was publicly acknowledged. I’ve always found Flynn to be reluctant about cooperating and I’ve been suspicious of just how fully he was doing so; I’m sure Mueller was even more suspicious and has been acting on that suspicion.

    • Mainmata says:

      Since at least 2015, when he attended the RT celebration in Moscow and sat at Putin’s table, it became clear that he was a “friend” of Russia, at the very least. As the judge noted, his behavior has been traitorous and certainly a disgrace to the uniform. I know he has cooperated, reluctantly. He definitely needs to see prison time.

      • bmaz says:

        Flynn’s conduct, whatever you think of it, was NOT “traitorous”. And the judge was WAY out of line to even mention that word. And even Emmet Sulli=van walked that back entirely, as he ethically had to do. People need to stop bandying about the term of traitor, traitorous or treasonous. Don’t go there, it is patently inapplicable.

          • bmaz says:

            Because treason is an extremely narrow offense, that only applies in VRY few circumstances, none of which are present in any of this. You should Google it. As should anybody that blithely throws the term around.

            • P J Evans says:

              You’re trying to make the world apply the legal definition, and the world is using it in the more general sense that most of us can actually understand without going through law school.

              • bmaz says:

                I am trying to get the world to not bandy about incorrect baloney just because it feels good. Let’s try to actually be accurate.

                  • bmaz says:

                    It is going to be possible here at Emptywheel. I will bust anybody and everybody that falsely bandies about the term. Sorry, but we are better than that here.

              • Molly Pitcher says:

                Legal Definition of treason. : the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of one’s country or of assisting its enemies in war specifically : the act of levying war against the United States or adhering to or giving aid and comfort to its enemies by one who owes it allegiance.
                Treason | Definition of Treason by Merriam-Webster

                • Molly Pitcher says:

                  bmaz, I have, for some time, been struggling to find a satisfactory term for what Trump is doing that is readily understandable to the non-lawyers, that isn’t ‘treason’. Sedition is also inaccurate. All of the synonyms for traitor are too wimpy to confer the extent of the criminality and danger.

                  Do you have a term that works ?

                  • Eureka says:


                    Edited to add snippets of definition from ddg search of word:

                    “The noun treachery comes from the Old French word trechier, “to cheat.”Many a corrupt government or dictator has been accused of treachery: deceiving the people and abusing their trust.”

                    “Treachery is the betrayal or violation of trust..”
                    Also, not a US law…

                    • Savage Librarian says:

                      Thanks, Eureka. That’s helpful. But still problematic is the understanding of the words “war” and “enemy”. It does not feel like the political and legal realms have adapted 21st century cyber threats into the mix. Any suggestions for how we can update the words “war” and “enemy” to incorporate these realities?

                    • bmaz says:

                      Savage Librarian. No, there is no need to update anything. Treason is a Constitutionally set term, that needs no updating whatsoever, nor do the terms “war” and “enemy”. Again, this is simply feel good bunk by people that want to harsh on things.

                      It’s funny, people, both generally, and in this blog’s comments, constantly bitch about how expanded the term “espionage” has become, and how harsh it is on some of their favorite supposed “whistleblowers”. I see that daily. And, yet there is a hue and cry to similarly expand the scope of “treason”, “war” and “enemy”. This is insane. The second you allow such expansion to cover your outrage of the minute, will be the second you realize what insane and uncontrollable power for oppression you have just handed to vindictive and avaricious actors within the DOJ and greater Executive Branch.

                      Seriously, this is a horrible idea and quest. Adding, so too is the constant hue and cry to call for expansion of “terrorism” in the domestic arena. It may feel good in the moment, but it is stunningly stupid in the longer term. It is the high speed rail to further obliteration of the very civil and criminal rights that were thought to be the backstop of due process. It will not go the way you envision it. There are plenty of laws to address everything out there already, in fact, we could do with a general culling of some of the ones we already have. But not expansion because it feels good at the moment.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Treachery works fine. Dereliction of duty of oath works too. There are a lot of possibilities. But “treason” is just not a colloquial catch all, it is an extremely narrowly defined legal term.

                    • Mooser says:

                      Well, if I made a video about Trump, I’d call it “The Traducers”. But is traduction a crime?

                    • Molly Pitcher says:

                      Thanks bmaz. I understand and appreciate the care with which you want the terms to be used, especially the fact that you have taken the long view regarding protecting the citizenry from future over reach by various governmental entities.

                      The problem I have with your two suggested alternatives is the response they will get from the general public who are not following this blog and barely follow the MSM. Treachery, while it may have a legal definition, sounds like an accusation from a Victorian melodrama that should be combined with calumny. Dereliction of duty of oath I can certainly see, but it is wordy and to the minimally caring, won’t elicit the level of response that it should.

                      People are wrongly using ‘treason’ because it is the only commonly understood term that comes close to expressing the shocking extent to which the members of the administration and Congress have transgressed.

                      I will now use treachery, because it is easier to type in a fit of pique than dereliction of duty of oath, but every time I do, I will be thinking of Snidely Whiplash and Little Nell, not the Criminal in Chief.

                    • Molly Pitcher says:

                      BTW, I had to reply to myself because there was no reply button to bmaz’s response to me….

        • Mitch Neher says:

          In order to lend aid and comfort or to adhere to an enemy of The United States, there has to be an enemy of The United States.

          In order for there to be an enemy of The United States, there has to be an overt act of war committed or imminently to be committed against The United States.

          In The Burr Trial, the overt act of war by The British Navy could not be established as imminently to have been be committed. I forget the details on that point. Sorry.

          In any case, the Russian informational warfare in the 2016 U.S. election does not fit the bill for an overt act of war. And, therefore, the notion of Trump “adhering to” an enemy of The United States becomes a non-sequitur as well.

  3. horses says:

    Flynn is psychologically unsound. Foresman is for sale.

    That’s an 11:00 Tuesday meeting in government if your scheduler is an idiot on the make. You meet with a lot of weird people. You flog your scheduler for their terrible judgment.

    The real question is why this nut was running NSA, and why didn’t anybody shut it down given the allegations that were circulating?

    Who was in charge here? Why was an obviously unstable person allowed to work there at all, let alone take meetings with shady bankers, given what was known about the election?

    • rip says:

      Just to clarify, Flynn wasn’t running the NSA (National Security Agency.) He was briefly the National Security Advisor to twinkle-thumbs.

  4. Prairie Boy says:

    Apologies for the sidebar, but I’ve been listening to the Audible version of the Muller Report on my commute.

    One thing that jumped out at me was from the Prosecution and Declination Decisions in Volume I, part V, section C, page 180 (I had to look it up). In the final paragraph (before subsection 1) the report indicates that several U.S. persons connected to the Campaign made false statements and “took other steps to obstruct the Office’s investigation and those of Congress”. It goes on to say that the Office therefore has charged “some” of those individuals with obstructing justice.

    Hmmmm, can anyone think of an individual who obstructed justice but hadn’t been charged by the Office? Perhaps “Individual-1”? Perhaps a member of Congress? @EW, any ideas?

    Sorry if this is old news. Work is impeding my ability to stay abreast of the insanity.

    • emptywheel says:

      KT McFarland is one of them. Either Sam Clovis or Carter Page is another. The third may be Prince or one of the other people in the loop on the December 29 call to Kislyak.

      • Americana says:

        I’m curious if you think we’ll ever hear more details about all the meetings held in the Seychelles Islands by Erik Prince? Those meetings hold the keys to the castle as far as I can tell. We need a breakdown of the overall scheme of the Seychelles event and the roles the individual countries played there as well as what Erik Prince as Trump’s proxy was able to deal on the spot.

        • RWood says:

          I’m curious as to whether Steve Bannon will ever be charged with anything?

          I keep going back to the picture of Trump and his band of merry men in the oval. Almost all of them are gone, but it still sticks out in my mind. I ask myself “Who’s the smartest guy in that room? That’s the one we need to make sure we get.”

          I would hate to see Bannon get away.

  5. Bay State Librul says:

    The entire cast of two bit felons, liars, and obstructers should be forced to take a 30 minute cold shower where the filth can be permanently removed from their crime-filled bodies.
    We are engulfed in terrifying corruption.
    Speak to me old Mueller, and tell me why you didn’t shout this out to the nation.
    We needed a bullfighter, not a conservative Republican with a narrow and legalistic world view.
    It has been a fucking month, day after day, the bullshit continues.

    • dude says:

      Joy Reed summarized what’s happening in a pithy way and I think it deserves repeating.

      Trump to Friends and Foes Alike: “Who’s gonna stop me?”

  6. Tom says:

    The Mueller Report describes (vol. 1 p. 146) an interview with Russian oligarch, Petr Aven, head of Alfa-Bank, in which Aven says he met with Putin sometime after the November 2016 election. According to Aven, Putin claimed he “did not know the people around the President-Elect” and “spoke of the difficulty faced by the Russian government in getting in touch with the incoming Trump Administration.” This sounds very odd. Surely Russian intelligence would have files on all the people around Trump as well as the President-Elect himself, and surely Aven would know this. Yes, the Trump campaign was chaotic but why would the Russians have difficulty contacting a new administration that was so welcoming of any overtures from the Kremlin? Even though Aven says he and Putin did not discuss the news reports of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Putin seems to have been ensuring that the banker understood what the official Russian position was on this topic: no conspiracy, regardless of facts to the contrary. Putin also seems to have been ensuring that Aven would repeat the official Russian cover story to anyone who asked him about it.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think it’s true of Aven.
      But Putin had to send out Aven because other oligarchs who had been playing that role–the Agalarovs and Deripaska–had become too toxic.

    • orionATL says:

      it impresses me that putin has a seemingless inexhaustible supply of moderately (banker) wealthy to extremely wealthy men whom he can count on to be his non-governmental, teflon auxilliary troops in his war to destroy american or european social cohesiveness.

      that some of these plutocrats are russian isn’t so surprising, but that others are european or american is. one could hypothesize that these are individuals who believe their wealth places them above all social and legal regulation of theirs or any other society. or maybe, less dramatically, they just have dreams of business favors dancing in their heads.

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        Individual-1 and his organization have a long history of interacting and profiting from Russian oligarchs, i.e., the Russian mafia, and it is axiomatic that you cannot role in shit without getting some stink on you. Hence, the administration’s Omerta attempt.

        Is is likely that other rich, powerful non-Russians view Putin the same way, as an equal among those whose profit goals are not constricted by laws or mores.

        • orionATL says:

          yeah. i’m beginning to think that we need to regulate the political activities of these hyper-rich in precisely the same way as we need to regulate corporations (as elizabeth warren is proposing). for every gates or buffet, the behavior of many others is as amoral and potentially socially destructive as that of a conscienceless corporation. the koch brothers are legal exhibit #1 of this calculated, self-centered societal destructiveness; rupert murdoch is exhibit #2; and off we go. the most-wanted list of these billionaire societal destroyers could run a good 4 dozen.

          • P J Evans says:

            Some of Buffett’s companies are every bit as amoral as the Kochs – he controls a mobile-home park company, and ir’s amoral.

            • orionATL says:

              i didn’t know that, but gates was no boy scout when he was on the mat wrestling to make microsoft the #1.

    • Americana says:

      Aven was likely asked to provide cover for Putin by feigning ignorance on Putin’s part of Trump’s inner circle. That is a characteristic of Putin’s dodging on Trump. Putin is always saying, “I don’t know Trump. I’ve never met Trump until he became POTUS,” etc. It’s just like Trump always claiming he spoke with and knows Putin, they have a great relationship and then suddenly Trump denies he knows Putin. Those denials are the linchpin to providing them w/(IM)PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY

      Putin also feigned ignorance that Trump was in Moscow the night of the Miss Universe Pageant in 2013 even though Putin had been sent an invitation and he had sent Trump a THANK YOU GIFT(!) for the invite despite not being able to make the event. That Miss Universe Pageant was the infamous one where Trump posted a tweet reading something like, “Will Putin come tonight and will he be my new best friend?” It’s illogical but they both have done this.

      • Tom says:

        I agree on the ‘implausible deniability’ factor. As if Putin wouldn’t be aware of Trump’s presence in Moscow and would have him under surveillance. I recall hearing Trump once say that he assumed he was being monitored or recorded by the Russians the whole time he was there.

  7. Willis Warren says:

    Thomas Cleveland suggested the DMs to Matt Gaetz were from Flynn’s son. Not sure how that fits into the timeline of him deleting his twitter, but it’s an interesting notion

  8. cfost says:

    Somewhere in all of this there is a coherent relationship between the avarice of Flynn, the money woes of Trump and Kushner, the dreams of Erdogan, the palace intrigue of the House of Saud, the puppeteering of Putin, the “energy experts” Page and Papadopolous, and shotgun rider Eric Prince. Were the Saudis really only interested in plutonium? And are not the timing of the Muslim ban and the DACA reversal suspicious? For Flynn to have evaded life in prison, he must have spilled some very juicy counterintelligence.

    • Salt of the Earth says:

      It is possible that Flynn had knowledge of the FBI’s unethical conduct in pursuing him. Weissmann threatened Flynn with prosecuting his son and he threatened with going public on the FBI’s entrapment of him. He knows how the IC community works. The 2015 dinner in which he was seated next to Putin was set up by Stephan Halper and the Russian honey pot has gone public contradicting the “Flynn is an agent of Russia” narrative. He briefed the IC before and after that trip.

      • bmaz says:

        “The FBI’s unethical conducting pursuing him”??? Are you nuts? Entrapment???? Jesus, where did you come from, some kind of QAnon subreddit? There was nothing unethical whatsoever about the FBI questioning him. And letting primary defendants know that family and friends could be in the lurch is a standard technique used every day by federal and state prosecutors. It not only is not improper, it is basic good technique. And was also a factor in Cohen and Manafort. Your take on these things is contrary to facts, law and history. Please provide citations for the rest of your spiel. This is the wrong place to wander into with that kind of BS. And you are off to a seriously bad start with your first comment, do better or don’t come back.

  9. george says:

    This whole investigation seems rather strange. I am not saying it is not real, for its real alright. We were told by the Mr. Mureller that General Flynn was working very hard for the investigation. But, then again Judge Sullivan scolded General Flynn, and threatened jail time if he did not produce more.

    Golly, that Dec. 29, 2016 was a bad day my fiancé and I were in a car accident and totaled our car. Must have been a bad moon rising. Although our Russian neighbor came home after working for several months out of state with a back end of the car in needing of work.

  10. klynn says:

    EW tweeted:
    “I don’t have the bandwidth to do this, but I wonder what would happen if some journalistic outlet called every single office on Capitol Hill to find out whether:

    1) Any staffer had read the full Mueller Report
    2) The Member of Congress had done so”

    How about the good ‘ole days when your readers sourced calls to gather the info? I’ll call my senators and reps.

    • klynn says:

      Two more thoughts:
      1) Someone should produce a video podcast maybe called Mueller 101 and have it provide a read through and explanation that connects the dots in every day language. Steyer, should fund this and run tv ads to encourage folks to have weekly viewing parties to discuss each installment (I’m thinkibg two women who just tag teamed on Chris Hayes and then guest former AGs picked from the signatures on the letter against Barr.
      2) EW, if you need research done and could use help, do a posting of assignments. I imagine a number of your “great researcher” readers would give their time to help.

  11. viget says:

    Beginning to wonder if Flynn is on the hook in another district for crimes relating to the transition or inaugural graft. Might explain his ongoing behind the scenes comments to Gaetz.

    It also might explain Judge Sullivan’s exhortations to keep cooperating. By all appearances he seems to have done everything Mueller has asked of him. Perhaps he hasn’t been as forthcoming with other prosecutors?

    • viget says:

      Also, why is Trump so pardon happy all of the sudden? When this happened a year ago, starting in March, it was shortly after Gates started cooperating, and continued through July, about a month after the superseding Manafort/Kilimnik indictment.

      One wonders if Paulie was seriously considering flipping in that interval, and the steady flow of pardons was meant to reassure him not to. Note that the Libby one came in April 2018, which I see as a direct message not to flip.

      • bmaz says:

        I sure wouldn’t think so, doubtful Flynn, who has good attorneys, would have pled and cooperated without a global agreement as to all potential charges.

          • viget says:

            That’s my point.

            Don’t think he told them everything.

            What if they learned of new potential criminal behavior in the interim?

            • bmaz says:

              It appears they have not encountered any of that they care about, or they would have acted FAR differently in their sentencing memos and advisories to the court.

      • Rayne says:

        Preparations to pardon war criminal Gallagher isn’t about Trump-Russia’s conspirators.

        It’s a message to DHS’ personnel in ICE and Border Patrol that they can expect pardons if they shoot and kill asylum seekers.

        It’s an implied permission slip to ratchet up violations of the treaties on refugees and human rights.

        The monster is becoming more monstrous and encouraging monstrosity.

          • Rayne says:

            Authorization for military force has to make it through the House for approval first. The issue of shooting border crosser has already come up and becomes increasingly likely with the increased militarization at the border combined with effort to crypto-deputize white nationalists.

            • bmaz says:

              Oh, really?? There is this blog called “Emptywheel” where a couple of people have talked about this issue before. Turns out, the Unitary Executive can, apparently, use an ancient AUMF for just about anything, including, probably, attacking Mars.

              So, I dunno.

              • Rayne says:

                Yeah, I heard about that site. But Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela are in no way terrorism or Iraq WMD situations and the public knows it.

            • P J Evans says:

              They’re ignoring that. They’re still using the 2001 AUMF, which had been written to limit military action, and twisting it all around.

                • P J Evans says:

                  Yeah, he was just a Reagan Republican that the party had moved away from. (I wasn’t enthusiastic about him. But he was better than the alternatives.)

              • Rayne says:

                Maybe that website bmaz is going on about should write something about the AUMFs now before Bolton does anything more to further a couple other mid-east countries’ aims using our tax dollars.

                • bmaz says:

                  Yeah, wrote that post in 2011 when there was a rational Dem President. Didn’t work then, not going to now. And, yes, I am still a bit bitter about that one!

          • OldTulsaDude says:

            Since old enough to care back in early sixties, I’ve seen enough corruption in government to be way more cynical than a message for coming war criminals – I visualize a message to the armed forces that pardons are available for protection services, capiche?

  12. Benoit Roux says:


    I am confused. It is clear that the Special Council got something out of Flynn and recommended a fairly lenient treatment. Yet, from where I stand it seems like Flynn is not even remotely repentant, to the point of communicating with GOP officials to encourage them to keep the good fight. Why isn’t he slammed for this behavior? What could he have possibly given that is of such value that he allowed to go on and almost makes a mockery of the justice system? I follow this site and also your tweet comments. And based on what you wrote, it seems that he was right at the center of the initial corruption (with Trump, Kushner, McFarland), yet I don’t see which guilty person we caught out his supposed cooperation. Is this a sign that something is rotten (like Mueller went easy on a high ranking military) or there is a deeper story that we miss. What do you think is going on?

  13. Tom says:

    This incident involving Flynn & Foresman is an example of one of the frustrating aspects of the Mueller Report, namely, what seems to be a lack of thorough investigation in some situations. If the emails suggest the December ’16 and January ’17 meetings “ultimately went forward” but Flynn claims not to remember them, are there not ways of verifying that they did? Wouldn’t Flynn have been asked to provide his appointment book, phone logs, or other sources of information for the period in question? And on the administrative support side, would there not be records of room bookings, visitor logs, meeting agendas, etc. that could be checked? Or could not one of Mueller’s team have interviewed the administrative staff to see what they knew of any meetings between Flynn and Foresman? Perhaps these steps were taken and Mueller decided they were not important enough to be included in his already lengthy report, but it would be good to know all the same.

    Another explanation is that Mueller wrote his report on the assumption that a reasonably intelligent person could figure out what was going without the need for him (Mueller) to be so explicit as to raise suspicions of bias on his part. In the above example, Mueller may have concluded that further investigation of Flynn’s poor memory was unnecessary as it was so obvious he was lying. The same seems to hold true for other episodes. On p. 172 of the report there is an account of Flynn having a successful phone call with Ambassador Kislyak on New Year’s Eve 2016 re: Putin’s decision not to retaliate against Obama’s sanctions. This was kudos for Flynn and K.T. McFarland offered her congratulations, but Flynn claimed not to remember whether he discussed the sanctions with other Transition Team members later that same day. Flynn did say he met with Steve Bannon the next day and discussed the Kislyak call with him; Bannon recalled meeting with Flynn but didn’t remember any discussion about sanctions. Again, assuming that these people kept some sort of notes of their meetings and conversations, you would expect Mueller to have checked into these further, but there is no indication that he did; perhaps again, because he knew–and knew that readers of the Report would know–that someone was lying.

    The most striking example I’ve come across in the Report so far is the situation following the meeting in the Seychelles and the subsequent meeting between Erik Prince and Steve Bannon. Prince claimed he discussed his meeting with Putin’s associates with Bannon, while Bannon denied that Prince told him anything about any meetings with Russians. Mueller states these competing statements could not be “clarified” because, by a curious coincidence, Prince’s and Bannon’s text messages for the time period in question had all mysteriously disappeared. Mueller doesn’t need to spell it out but it seems difficult not to conclude that Prince and/or Bannon were covering up.

    In reading such episodes, you can’t help but wish that the format of the Report had allowed for some editorial or descriptive comment. How did Flynn, Prince, and Bannon, and react to being interviewed? What was their body language like? Did they seem open and honest or hostile and defensive? Were they calm and collected nervous and sweaty? Perhaps some day there will be an annotated version of the Mueller Report including such details.

  14. bmaz says:

    Molly Pitcher – This is the inherent problem with having nested comments and a reply button…After a number of comments, the margins for nesting are so small they can no longer handle another comment. It is not that it didn’t work, it is that it no longer could work because of the margins.

    To the merits of the issue, we work hard to get things right here, even while being out in front on a lot of issues. Our record is not perfect, but it is extremely good if not unparalleled. Trump has accused his own FBI of treason, which is the height of legal and intellectual stupidity. We should not sink to that level of hyperbolic nonsense.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful and thorough response to my comment above, bmaz. I know you are really right. But it is so hard for me to imagine how the overwhelming amount of corruption will ever be reined in. Long ago I had supervisors who told me that rules were for people who agreed to follow them, not for those who broke them. So, plenty of rule breakers were enabled, at the expense of the rule followers. Not something I ever came to understand or appreciate. But such is life…

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        It seems to me that the bottom line will eventually be whether or not the SCOTUS decides to rule against precedents. I do not think that will happen.

      • Eureka says:

        (Putting a lol & rock & roll epitaph on this version of the t-word convo) I don’t particularly have urges to call him or his ‘process’ anything (but corrupt, etc.), though I do appreciate a want for proper labels.

        For the past few weeks I’ve thought of him as just a rainbow in the dark:

        Do your demons—well, do they ever let you go?
        When you’ve tried,
        Do they hide
        Deep inside?
        Is it someone that you know?

        No sign of the morning coming,
        No sight of the day.
        You’ve been left on your own.
        You are a rainbow,
        Rainbow in the dark.

        Dio – Rainbow In The Dark [HD]

        RJD gave a later-life interview where he recounted nearly taking a razor blade to the tape for this song, thinking it too pop-y. He was stopped; later played it at every concert as a fan favorite. And so now there is a nesting doll of contempt in this song to throw 45’s way.

  15. mospeck says:

    when the demon is at your door
    in the morning it won’t be there no more
    -Steely Dan, on one of their more optimistic days

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