The January 30 Memo Doesn’t Help Flynn Like the Frothy Right Thinks It Does

As I noted, some of the claims Sidney Powell made today to justify her demand for material that really doesn’t help her client got blown up, including by Emmet Sullivan, before the end of the hearing. Others, such as the fact that Michael Flynn passed a polygraph in April 2016 are undisguised horseshit. How does passing a poly exonerate you from committing a bunch of crimes after you pass it?

But I’m particularly interested in Powell’s complaint that they didn’t get a memo, written on January 30, 2017 clearing him of being a paid agent of Russia. It was another thing Sullivan sniffed out as bullshit during the hearing, noting that that Flynn did not plead guilty to being an agent of Russia. “It has to be more than theoretical relevance,” he politely responded.

Nevertheless the frothy right has seized on it like trained seals.

But it helps Flynn even less than the frothy right thinks.

Obviously, as both Brandon Van Grack and Sullivan noted, he didn’t plead guilty to being a Russian agent. He pled to two other things: lying about being a paid agent of Turkey (while getting top secret briefings during the campaign) and lying about trying to undercut the sanctions Obama imposed on Russia for helping Trump get elected.

But there’s one more problem. Over six months after the Russian agent investigation was closed on January 30, 2017, Rod Rosenstein scoped the Mueller investigation to include four allegations against Flynn.

The Acting Attorney General further clarified the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigatory authority in two subsequent memoranda. A memorandum dated August 2, 2017, explained that the Appointment Order had been “worded categorically in order to permit its public release without confirming specific investigations involving specific individuals.” It then confirmed that the Special Counsel had been authorized since his appointment to investigate allegations that three Trump campaign officials-Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and George Papadopoulos- “committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.” The memorandum also confirmed the Special Counsel’s authority to investigate certain other matters, including two additional sets of allegations involving Manafort (crimes arising from payments he received from the Ukrainian government and crimes arising from his receipt of loans from a bank whose CEO was then seeking a position in the Trump Administration); allegations that Papadopoulos committed a crime or crimes by acting as an unregistered agent of the Israeli government; and four sets of allegations involving Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor to President Trump. [my emphasis]

Two of these are presumably the crimes he pled to, the Turkish foreign agent and lying about his conversation with the Russian Ambassador. One might be his willingness to use his position to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia (lowering US standards on proliferation in the process). The fourth might be his participation in Peter Smith’s efforts to find Hillary’s deleted emails, which included asking Russian hackers for help, but that had only been disclosed at the end of June.

Whatever it is, though, it’s clear there was still plenty for the FBI to investigate long after the “exoneration” in January.

Which may be how the government will respond to Powell’s silly claims — to lay out all the damning information against Flynn.

39 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    Their claims about polygraph tests are pretty much all bull. They don’t prove much except that it’s possible to lie while “passing” or set it off while being completely truthful.

  2. Areader2019 says:

    Nothing Flynn is doing makes any sense to me. Sign a cooperation deal, then don’t cooperate. Antagonize the judge. Why?

    Popehat tweeted that he thinks Flynn’s strategy is “pure Leeroy Jenkins” (which I had to google, it means to run wildly into battle ignoring any strategy and tactics and totally unprepared … it’s an older meme, but it checks out).

    Is Flynn just playing for a pardon, and thinks the best thing he can do is to froth up the frothy right?

    • PieIsDamnGood says:

      Leeroy Jenkins may be a better analogy than intended! The video is obviously a farce to anyone that was playing World of Warcraft at the time. Bad strategy is discussed, irrelevant calculations are made and only then does Leeroy charge in, setting in motion the destruction of his own team.

      Hopefully Flynn’s ‘strategy’ ends the same.

      Youtube link if anyone is feeling especially nerdy

      • P J Evans says:

        In one of Charlie Stross’s “Laundry” novels, one of the major characters wears a bracelet that says “WWLJD” and the baddies misinterpret LJ as “Lord Jesus”. (It’s “Leeroy Jenkins”.)

        • Areader2019 says:

          WWLJD…. I’m using that.

          I borrow jokes from Popehat. I can admit that. But how else do you describe what Flynn is doing? I suppose you could examine the compete sealed nature of the right wing information bubble. And it might make sense inside of that world.

          I can’t future it out.

          • P J Evans says:

            That particular novel is “Apocalypse Codex”, where Bob Howard is investigating a US cult that’s moving in on the British government.

              • P J Evans says:

                It’s the third in a series. You don’t really need to read the first two, but it might help. (Stross is also taking off from various spy/thriller novelists.)

              • Areader2019 says:

                In reply to ‘the video is obviously a farce’ I would submit ‘Galaxy Quest’ which is both a farce, and a completely accurate and excellent Star Trek movie.

      • Frank Probst says:

        As for the Leeroy Jenkins reference, I think that “gamer speak” has been the best thing to use to describe certain people in government today. The best description of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that I’ve heard is that she’s a “tank”. She’s in a safe seat, so she draws “aggro” (aggression) towards herself, which the other “players” free to do things that would normally draw attention to them if the “tank” wasn’t there.

        • mospeck says:

          Frank Probst on September 11, 2019 at 2:35 pm reviews “gamer speak” about crazy mad fantasy characters like “Leeroy Jenkins,” and then about how now AOC is acting as a “tank” to draw “aggro,” thus freeing and protecting other player’s actions. Hilarious new world view :)
          Trump is also a tank, drawing aggro (from the western press) to cover for other players (Putin, Xi, etc.) who are all about trying to create a new world order. My trouble is that I don’t think Trump is a moron. So why does he continually do all these moron things? Gamer speak gets it about right.
          Bolton ouster at NSA, and his team now slowly being shown the door, looks like a major problem going into the 2020. What if so-called Mad Hatter Trump chooses to be his own NSA, and thus have no team coordinating Intel? this because the Mad King is just unable to get on with one? Or maybe he just puts in his not so sharp bootlicker Pence as NSA? In spite of his many flaws, Bolton would try his best to protect us against Russia in the 2020 elections. Below is tree of DNI principals. I’m not knocking any of these folks, but where is the spook who replaces PDDNI Sue Gordon?
          Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire
          Chief Operating Officer Deirdre Walsh
          Deputy DNI, Enterprise Capacity Kevin Meiners
          Deputy DNI, Mission Integration Beth Sanner
          Deputy DNI, National Security Partnerships LTG Karen Gibson
          Deputy DNI, Strategy & Engagement Corin R. Stone
          Director, Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center Erin Joe
          Director, National Counter proliferation Center, Annette Totten
          Acting Director, National Counterterrorism Center Russell “Russ” Travers
          Director, National Counterintelligence and Security Center William Evanina
          Chief, Civil Liberties, Privacy & Transparency Ben Huebner
          Chief, IC Equal Opportunity & Diversity Rita Sampson
          Inspector General of the IC Michael Atkinson
          General Counsel Jason Klitenic
          Assistant DNI, Chief Information Officer (IC CIO) John Sherman
          Assistant DNI, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Trey Treadwell

    • bmaz says:

      AReader2019 – It is either Jenkins or pardon, I honestly do not know. But it is almost surely one or the other. I have always thought, and have previously written here, that the pardon parade is much more fraught for Trump, and the potential pardonee, in this case Flynn, than people think. I guess we will see which way it goes.

      • Peterr says:

        I agree that “pardon parade is much more fraught for Trump, and the potential pardonee, in this case Flynn, than people think,” with Donald Trump as one of those people. He’s like Rod “I’ve got this thing and it’s fking golden” Blagojevich on steroids. After all, Blago could only sell one Senate seat, while Trump can pardon and pardon and pardon to his heart’s content.

        For instance, I find this a not-so-far-fetched scenario . . .

        Donald Trump: So let me get this straight – I give someone a pardon, and it’s as if their crime never happened?

        William Barr: Well, sort of. If you pardon a bank robber, he goes free but the bank is still out all their cash.

        Trump: OK, but as far as the one getting the pardon goes, everything goes away?

        Barr: That’s right.

        Trump: No “check this box if you’ve been convicted of a felony” on job applications?

        Barr: Right. As far as the law goes, it’s as if the crime never happened. No conviction, and not even any charges filed. It’s a clean slate for the person who gets a pardon.

        Trump: It’s like I’ve got a magic wand that can just make walls and bars and barbed wire and guards go away?

        Barr: I suppose that’s one way of looking at it.

        (long pause)

        Trump: You know, I need a new National Security Advisor.

        Barr: Uh, Mr. President . . .

        Trump: Yessiree. I need someone with experience in the job, someone whom I can trust, and — most of all — someone who knows how much they owe me and won’t cause me headaches.

        Barr: You’re not seriously thinking of . . .

        Trump: Don’t pull a Bolton and try to tell me what I’m supposed to be thinking. You saw how that worked out for him, right? Now get me my Sharpie. It’s Pardon Time!!!

        [Shorter Peterr: Put me down for it being Leeroy Jenkins with a Pardon pen.]

        • Rugger9 says:

          As I understand it, the pardon requires admission of the crime (with appropriate contrition), otherwise why would Arpaio go to the trouble of trying to get his conviction expunged after Individual-1 pardoned him? IIRC the judge said no.


      • Frank Probst says:

        I’ve always thought that pardons are much less likely than people think. Trump only acts in his own self interest, and I don’t see how pardoning Flynn helps him much. The official reason that Flynn was sacked was that he lied to the Vice President. He’s admitted under oath that he lied to the FBI. Unless he has testimony that he can back up with additional evidence (like Gates did with Paul Manafort), he has no credibility, so he’s really not much of a threat to Trump. And if he DID have evidence like that, he either didn’t tell his original legal team, or they held it back from Mueller, neither of which seems likely to me.

        The only thing here that I’m fairly sure about is that the footnotes in any written opinion(s) that Sullivan issues are going to be jam-packed with shade.

        • Peterr says:

          The benefit Trump would derive from pardoning Flynn would be two-fold. First, it would be a big poke in the eye at Team Mueller. Second, it would fire up Trump’s base in ecstasy. Trump could stand up and give a big speech proclaiming Flynn a martyr whom he has rescued from the forces of The Deep State, and the cheers from the frothy right wing would be enormous.

          On the down side, it would also piss off the House Dems, likely pushing them toward impeachment, but if the ecstasy amongst the base is strong enough (see above), it will push Moscow Mitch and the Senate GOP into protecting Trump. This in turn would only get the GOP base that much more fired up.

          If Trump can’t get a big foreign deal done (N Korea, Iran, NAFTA 1.1, buying Greenland) and can’t get his precious wall built and sees the economy teetering because of his trade war, this scenario might look awfully tempting.

  3. Rapier says:

    The only possible information about Flynn which would turn the frothy right against him is if he were branded a liberal. Well I suppose mass murder might do it, depending on who.

    That Mueller and his staff bent over backwards to go easy on this fruitcake resonates all the more now.

    • Areader2019 says:

      I was thinking about that today.

      If Mueller has been more aggressive, and expanded the scope of his investigation, he would have been criticized for overstepping his mandate. Less aggressive, and he would fail to document important evidence.

      If he had leaned left or right, and picked up someone else’s favorite narrative, that would have destroyed his credibility.

      If he had gone up that chain of command too soon, and directly attacked Trump, his evidence would have been spotty. If he took to much time, he would get shut down. This was never going to be a seven year whitewater investigation.

      So he was ‘boxed in’ in terms of what he could accomplish. In hindsight we will be better able to decide if his judgement was correct. Especially when we learn more about the other investigations that have been spun off, and most importantly the ongoing CI investigation.

      • Tom says:

        I think history will conclude that Mueller did a pretty good job of negotiating the razor’s edge of the difficult task he was assigned. It’s not his fault that Trump and his fellow colluders destroyed and withheld evidence, or that Bill Barr put a coat of whitewash on Mueller’s report and then stalled for several weeks to let his lies sink in to the public’s mind before releasing the final text. I’m not so sure that we’d be any farther ahead right now even if Mueller had been given more time to pursue his investigation. With all that Mueller revealed in terms of the Trump team’s attempts to conspire with Russia and the President’s obstruction of justice, not to mention the blatant examples of lies and corruption that Trump no longer even tries to conceal, the Democrats are still carefully checking the assembly instructions and laboriously going through their “insert tab A into slot B” routine of pretending to impeach the President.

    • sneakynordic says:

      We should probably refrain from grading Mueller until all his work is shown. It seems like one of the biggest shoes has yet to drop, i.e., why the hell did an investigation that began in the DC USAO go to the SCO and then back to the DC USAO? And what were they investigating? And what’s become of that investigation? And why did Mueller write a report concluding his investigation even though a key witness that he had subpoenaed for a matter germane to his investigation failed to produce adequate responses? And if it didn’t matter to the SCO’s investigation (or they had corroborating, inadmissible evidence, demonstrating that the evidence didn’t matter), why did the DC USAO still continue pursing the witness for the same production even after the report? None of that makes sense yet, so we don’t even know what game Mueller was playing, let alone in how many dimensions.

  4. viget says:

    What about conspiracy to kidnap a US national, Fetah Gulen?

    There was an article in the Guardian a while back that suggested both he and his son were being investigated for this. That would be pretty powerful leverage over Flynn to cooperate.

      • viget says:

        This is good info. So it was Woolsey that spilled the beans on Flynn… hmmm. Bet Flynn (or Trump) didn’t see that coming. Question is: was Woolsey a CIA mole or did the FBI catch him red handed doing something and flipped him into a CI? Or (least likely) did he suddenly develop a conscience when he saw the extent of what Flynn was up to?

        I think this really makes me wonder what was happening that last week of Dec 2016. Note also that on Dec 19th, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was gunned down by a former Turkish police officer as a protest against what was going on in Syria. Gulen’s group was theorized to be behind the assassination plot. If true, this might also give Putin reason to want Gulen gone too.

  5. Diggo says:

    Can I ask a question which might seem impertinent, given I’m Australian – what is the thing the USA has about polygraphs? AFAIK, they are completely bogus with no scientific basis. How can they possibly be considered valid evidence of anything except that a person took the test? Has your country’s legal system adopted a case-based precedent which (for some crazy reason) is used to wedge polygraphs into courts?
    It’s like bringing homeopathy or water divining into court.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Polygraph information is generally inadmissible in court. It is used in the security clearance process and in some aspects of criminal investigations. As you say, its credibility is questionable.

      Oddly, those most capable of gaming the process are trained spies, which suggests that its use in security clearances is more likely to intimidate than to obtain relevant data.

      • bmaz says:

        Presumptively inadmissible, and for fair reason. But not always! It can be admitted by stipulation and/or upon motion granted by the court. This doesn’t happen often, but it does occasionally, I can personally attest.

        • Diggo says:

          Seems like 99/100 on the ‘flaky as hell’ scale.
          It’s remarkable how many arcane, loopy notions still persist within investigation, charging & court proceedings.
          On top of that, as we learn more about human memory it has become apparent that ‘witnessing’ an event is very unreliable. We now know that witness testimony is flimsy evidence at best, particularly if a chunk of time has passed since the event.
          In parallel, leading neuroscientists are confident we lack free will, which (if proven) could upend legal systems in a major way. Maybe some day….

  6. margaretwalker says:

    The good judge Sullivan has ordered

    over 40 Brady documents unsealed for Flynn’s defense. There is a download link to the request by Powell and the order by Sullivan here, for those who want to see what is really at play in this case.

    https: // theconservativetreehouse .com /2019/09/11/ court-unseals-flynn-brady-motion-40-items-requested-by-flynn-defense/

    [FYI, link ‘broken’ with insertion of blank spaces to prevent unintended clickthrough by community members to an unvetted site. Please use links to public records rather than blogs. /~Rayne]

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