Damning New Details from Mary McCord and Sally Yates

I wanted to point to some details from documents — the Sally Yates and Mary McCord 302s — submitted by DOJ yesterday in their bid to get out of the Mike Flynn prosecution. DOJ presumably submitted them for the way they show Jim Comey acting like Jim Comey, taking actions without approval from political leadership at DOJ in a failed attempt to politicize something. That he had done so was known, these 302s provide DOJ’s side of that story.

The 302s provide a bit more detail about how alarming the Mike Flynn transcripts were, though. For example, before McCord saw the transcripts, she assumed Flynn’s calls were simply an incoming Administration reaching out to foreign counterparts.

It seemed logical to her that there may be some communications between an incoming administration and their foreign partners, so the Logan Act seemed like a stretch to her. She described the matter as “concerning” but with no particular urgency. In early January, McCord did not think people were considering briefing the incoming administration. However, that changed when Vice President Michael Pence went on Face the Nation and said things McCord knew to be untrue. Also, as time went on, and then-White House spokesperson Sean Spicer made comments about Flynn’s actions she knew to be false, the urgency grew.

But when she actually read them, she realized they were worse than that. Specifically, she was surprised that Flynn had raised sanctions himself; the discussion didn’t come from Sergey Kislyak.

McCord did not recall exactly when she saw the transcripts of the Flynn calls, but believed she asked to see them after Pence’s statements about Flynn on Face the Nation. [Agent note: Pence was on Face the Nation on January 15, 2017.] McCord believed she probably had the transcripts by January 19, 2017, possibly having come over SIPRnet from Strzok. After reading them, she felt they were “worse” than she initially thought; she noted that her recollection of them is that Flynn proactively raised the issue of sanctions, and she feels it is hard to believe he would forget talking about something he raised himself.

When Yates talked to Don McGahn about it, she described that one of the problems with the calls but that Flynn made specific requests of Kislyak. Given these redactions, they must include stuff beyond the two issues that appear in Flynn’s own 302: the sanctions and the UN request.

And it wasn’t just McCord who took this more seriously when she saw the transcripts themselves. Her 302 adds details (which were secondhand from McCabe) to this description from the Mueller Report:

Based on the evidence of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak, McGahn and Priebus concluded that Flynn could not have forgotten the details of the discussions of sanctions and had instead been lying about what he discussed with Kislyak.202 Flynn had also told White House officials that the FB[ had told him that the FBI was closing out its investigation of him,203 but Eisenberg did not believe him.204

McCord describes how Pence went and got the transcripts from his Face the Nation appearance to compare with the Flynn transcripts. And Reince Priebus walked out of the room.

Pence, while reviewing, directed his Chief of Staff to get the transcript of his (Pence’s) Face the Nation interview, which he then compared to [redacted] transcripts. At one point in the meeting, Priebus said he’d seen enough and left the room.

And there are two more details about the White House response of interest. McCord specifically said, “Neither McGahn or Burnham gave any indication they had talked to anyone about the information.” She described that they had seemed “dumbstruck” by the news the previously day. But the following day, according to Yates, there was a very different tone to the meeting.

The second meeting was a distinct “tenor change” from the first. While the first meeting didn’t feel adversarial, McGahn started the second meeting with something like, “What’s it to DOJ if one White House official lies to another?” Yates was a little taken aback by that and explained again the same reasons for their concern that she had the day before. She told McGahn that there was more to this than one official lying to another, and Flynn’s actions themselves were problematic, especially when followed by lies and the public getting a false statement.

Of course, McGahn had talked to other people about the warning. He had spoken with Trump.

Finally, the day after Yates and McCord spoke to Don McGahn about it the second time, John Eisenberg emailed McCord using Flynn’s phone.

On January 28, 2017, McCord received an email from Flynn’s email account, but signed by John Eisenberg, Deputy Counsel for the President for National Security Affairs. The email stated it was a follow-up to McCord’s interactions with McGahn, and asked for a time to have a secure call. Given that the email was from Flynn’s email account, McCord opted not to reply to the email directly.


When McCord and Eisenberg connected on the telephone on January 29, 2017, Eisenberg told McCord he had been in Flynn’s office prior to his sending the email to McCord and an assistant had switched his and Flynn’s telephones when giving them back. He explained they had the same password, so Eisenberg accidentally sent the email to McCord from Flynn’s phone.

While the phone confusion is easily explained — Flynn’s office would be a SCIF, so phones would be left outside — the claim they shared passwords is inconceivable.

And, of course, it makes it clear that once Eisenberg got involved, he (the same guy who hid Trump’s Ukraine transcript) started working directly with Flynn on the pushback.

74 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    On the phone/password thing – I’d find it more believable if he’d said that Flynn had put in his password himself before handing the phone over to him. (I can’t believe that they got to that level in the IC without better password discipline than that.)

        • blueedredcounty says:

          You are giving them way too much credit for being able to remember how to spell password backwards. Besides, this is the opposite of their thought processes, they are always looking forward to the next corrupt opportunity to make a buck.

        • P J Evans says:

          Whatever password they ended up with would be on a sticky note under the keyboard. (I’ll admit to having to do it for a couple of days every time I had to change one of the ones I had at work. But it generally only took two days to memorize it.)

      • P J Evans says:

        If I want to use my sis’s computer when I visit, I have to ask for the password – because hers is set up to require a log-in every time it’s turned on. (She used it for work stuff.) It’s long, involves at least one cap, one number, and one symbol.

      • drouse says:

        Never changed the default. They were probably issued the phones and told the first thing to do is change your password. Went whatever Dude and never bothered.

        • CCM says:

          So, true story, I admit to the hospital a patient in a coma. Via word from EMS he was from out of town. No old medical records or family to clarify. The night before I watched “Jack Ryan” on Netflix where he gives a primer on how to guess a phone password. I try one of his methods and bingo, phone unlocked. Family contacted, no problem.

          • bmaz says:

            That is a truly great story. Is patient okay? Also, have not watched Jack Ryan, but think I may have to now.

            • CCM says:

              True story. Patient is fine. But a cautionary tale as the nurses snoop through the texts and find he has a wife and a girlfriend. Life is high school repeated.

              • bmaz says:

                Ooof. Well, we are mostly against phone snooping here, but that is outstanding work by you folks. And I bet the family agrees.

          • P J Evans says:

            I’m not sure I could figure out how to lock my flip-phone. (I haven’t figured out a lot of the misfeatures. It works to make calls, that’s all I want.)

    • blueedredcounty says:

      I know you were being facetious, please do not think I am attacking you or your post.

      This is not believable in any way, shape, or form. Much like Flynn’s sworn statements cannot be reconciled without contradiction (i.e., at least ONE of them must be a lie because they are the exact opposite of another statement) this statement cannot be true. Because if it is true, both of these individuals violated multiple security standards they had to have signed for their employment and should be both terminated for cause and prosecuted.

      I work at a software company, and I did support for government systems for over 2 1/2 years. Not only do you go through a background check, but you sign that you will comply with all the security standards and requirements for accessing the system. You get a pop-up each time you connect to the system that restates the conditions for accessing the system and that it is a crime if you are accessing it for unauthorized use. Using someone else’s account is a major breach.

      Further, all of these systems is set up so you have to reset your password every 60 days (not 90), and there is all kinds of checking to make sure you are not reusing any passwords or parts of passwords for a 24 month period.

      The only way they could possibly have the same password would be if they both agreed to set their passwords to the same value, and share their accounts. And sharing the passwords like this is also illegal. Not that these fuckers care about the law.

      Because they put this in writing, at a minimum, they both should be terminated for cause. And if it was you or me, you’d better believe they’d make an example of us.

      • Vicks says:

        There is obviously something wrong with Eisenberg’s story.
        Its hard to believe even if he knew the password, he got all the way to opening Flynn’s email app, located or entered McCord contact info and started typing without catching any other clues it wasn’t his phone.
        I also have to wonder if Flynn (like most people) had a saved email signature, if he did, Eisenberg would have to have deleted Flynn’s sign off and replace it with his own.
        It would be interesting to see another email Flynn sent from his phone to compare
        As for the security pop up’s, I would think this administration would find them just as annoying as security clearances and making the president stop using his personal iPhone.
        Who knows? With this administration they could have been turned off.

      • P J Evans says:

        ours were 90-day (or three months – they got out of synch), but we couldn’t reuse them for at least three years, and it was easier to think up a new one than try to remember what we’d used before.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Or, Eisenberg is lying.

      The more casual and obvious the lie, the clearer the signal to the DoJ to butt out. Making shit up about seemingly small but consequential things is this administration’s standard operating procedure.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        It really depends upon what the emails look like, who initiated the chain, whether there was a signature. Passwords have fuck-all to do with it because phones save them, and saying “we had the same password” is an overkill explanation. You don’t have to enter your fuckin’ SMTP password whenever you send an email.

        So there’s a plausible case that Eisenberg knew Flynn’s password because they were foldering comms — that is, writing drafts to each other via a single account so that they wouldn’t be transmitted — and that Eisenberg forgot that he shouldn’t have been sending email when he was accessing Flynn’s account.

        (I don’t know Android well, but iPhones have two modes for email when you have multiple accounts — a consolidated inbox for all of them, and one that is just the inbox for a single account.)

  2. Rugger9 says:

    Wow. All this really does is clearly show how much of a bad joke Barr’s withdrawal was. No way anyone shares passwords and especially at that level. It would have made more sense to say Flynn’s email was open and he just used it with Flynn’s permission.

    I also saw from Digby that apparently the next wave of political prosecutions is on track.

    When I see how smugly Barr said that history would be written by the winners it seemed to me that Barr has a plan to ensure DJT will never leave the WH and therefore will not lose. Putin simply could not have asked for more from his puppet. Pelosi needs to get cracking on the next round of impeachment hearings, because the WH is shooting for the moon here.

    Also, for those in MI, follow the cell phone tracing and stay safe.


    • Bob Estes says:

      I’ve never heard anyone explain in a way that makes sense why House Democrats are not more forcefully pursuing oversight. They have all kinds of levers available to them – that they refuse to use. Most explanations lean towards “Pelosi is a corporate sellout” or “Dem leadership is too old” but that can’t explain it. Help me understand how they see the politics of this situation and feel like sitting on their hands is a strong hand to play.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Like generals, it seems that the Democratic leadership is fighting battles from the last war. In this case, it would be with 1990’s Newt Gingrich, which they lost and from which they learned the wrong lessons. Obama refused to look back and hold people to account. Now the Dems fail to hold present-day wrongs to account or even document them for later correction. Egregiously in a presidential election year, they fail rhetorically to rally the public against them.

        It’s a kind of resignation without resentment – a result much sought after by standard manipulative corporate HR programs: don’t worry, be happy face. It’s an elicited passive-passive response, a stratagem of the weak that turns inward and refuses to settle scores when the tables turn.

        It might be that Democratic leadership agree with some of what Trump, Barr, and McConnell are doing, or that they refuse to challenge power, lest it alienate their largest donors. Electorally – and socially – it is a massive failure and one reason we have Trump.

        • ducktree says:

          I believe Pelosi’s epitaph should read: Embrace The Suck.

          https: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnKFDIlv2Ik

  3. timbo says:

    The whole thing makes one wonder exactly what the common password Russian agents use on their phones when they’re at work in the US NSC offices… anyone know?

    • LaNita Jones says:

      Pretty sure after the Dec 1 or 2 session when Jared was idealistly desperate to borrow their phone, they just went ahead and changed their password to Rome Has Fallen.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Started working directly on the pushback.” Days into a new administration. Don’t like the information or work product from the most senior government employees? Relating to national security issues involving your own most senior staff? Call the bearers of bad news ill-informed, liars, critics with a grudge, or just fire them. It was already obvious to White House staff that Job One was to protect Trump’s ego, everything else be damned.

    And, yea, the idea that the NSA and a top White House lawyer – people at the top of the protect America food chain, who should have the best opsec – shared the same password on a mobile device is absurd. Frankly, so, too, is that routine processes were so lax that some staffer handed back the wrong phones to them – and that Eisenberg didn’t notice until after he’d sent a text to a top DoJ official. Nothing but the best and the brightest for these guys.

    • P J Evans says:

      I recall that Trmp was trying to give orders like he was already in office, in November and December 2016. I thought then that he was pretty clueless.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Clueless, but alarmingly convinced of his own superiority and that accountability would never touch him. Just to be sure, though, he breaks big things and little, he hides what he does, and he lies and lies and lies.

  5. RMD says:

    Serious question: does anyone know of an indexing resource that aggregates and sources malfeasance, by date, of the tRump administration. It would be a helpful addition were it to include republican actions taken to obstruct justice, interfere with democratic institutions, abuse power, etc.

    I try to keep up with what I once thought was daily developments….only now it quite often is hourly.
    I’d love a table that contained this content, searchable by topic.

    I am in earnest and would love to know if someone can point to resources along these lines.
    Thanks in advance.

  6. Molly Pitcher says:

    Tangential but OT, something to start the weekend with. Katie Miller, Pence’s recently announced Covid 19 positive spokesperson, is married to White House Senior Adviser, Stephen Miller. Perhaps this is common knowledge here, but it was news to me.

    Pence was scheduled to go to Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday, but his flight was delayed for an hour after news of his staffer’s diagnosis.

  7. DaveC says:

    Thank you Marcy for all the digging, analysis & writing!

    These are somewhat ignorant questions, apologies for losing track of the details:

    -I take it that the Flynn – Kislyak phone call transcripts are not public? They must be part of the court record by now though? How can DoJ / Barr assert to the Court that Flynn’s lies were immaterial without releasing the transcript?

    -What is the basis for the frothy right assertion that Flynn was contemporaneously aware his conversations with Kislyak had been recorded? If he knew that the FBI was recording him, how could he possibly think he could get away with lying about the subject of the conversation?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      If he knew that the FBI was recording him, how could he possibly think he could get away with lying about the subject of the conversation?

      Same question.
      Was he talking in code? Nothing else makes sense.
      And he was the former head of DNI; if anyone understood collection methods, wouldn’t it have been Flynn?

      • viget says:

        I can’t remember where I saw it, I want to say it was in the Flynn 302s or maybe the KT McFarland ones, but there was a more detailed timeline of Flynn’s convos (multiple) with Kislyak from the DR (at least 5 that day). Something about the descriptions made me think that one of the calls was for “public consumption” and then was immediately followed by a secure second call where the more damning stuff was discussed. It could have been that the cover call was indeed about arranging for the Putin-Trump congratulations call, as Spicer had said, and then the secure call was about sanctions.

        I am sure that whatever encryption or security steps were taken, Flynn must have been fairly confident that the NSA couldn’t have intercepted it (or misunderstood how the different sections of FISA, especially section 703, might apply here). Hence his smug line to Strozk about “you guys were probably listening in” meaning they would have intercepted the innocuous stuff, but not the more secret stuff.

        I could see that being the genesis of Nunes’ midnight run.

        Question is, how did the FBI know that Flynn had a second line to Kislyak? Maybe Page spilled the beans on that in one of his intercepts???

        I know, I know, speculation, etc. But it would fit with the facts.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Good catch.
          It would be completely consistent for these people to make ‘two side-by-sides’, so that if asked about A, they could say with full comfort, “yeah, it was A”. And they would assume that no other party was aware of B.

          Certainly makes sense.
          Hall. Of. Mirrors.

          I still want to know where Prince Jared fits into this 3D puzzle, along with his Silicon Valley brother. It certainly would make sense, given Jared’s coordinating with Cambridge Analytica, that he couldn’t imagine himself being caught. Did his brother somehow assure him that they had the private channels well hidden? That’s the only thing that explains the kind of hubris and arrogance that we’ve seen.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think that if you add Trump to the equation, it explains Flynn’s confidence that he and others would not be punished for what they do in his Name.

  8. PeeJ says:

    I’m concerned with the Bill Barr “winners” statement. That along with the guy sent to insure the DOD has “loyal” civilians working there. The joint chiefs at Camp David this weekend. This just ain’t normal in any way, shape, or form. Is Trump going to attack Iran now that his veto on the bill limiting authorisation was upheld?

    • P J Evans says:

      I think he and his hawkish sycophants may be trying to persuade the Joint Chiefs – but I hope JCS isn’t easily cowed and continues to refuse.

  9. MattyG says:

    Great piece on the Rusher Thing as always. To go along with the unfloding drama Barr’s “history is written by the winners” comment is beyond cocky – both at practical level and as a general incitement. Did he overstep his own boundary on this – overcome with giddiness – or is it a bald threat directed at the country?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It reveals Barr’s essentially lawless nature. Laws are for hoi polloi, not the elite. Accountability for those who govern is a contradiction in terms. The governed, however, may be broken at the wheel, that they may see the error of their ways. That rule applies between all higher and lower status groups: he would not have indicted Ahmaud Arbery’s killers either. If Barr were funny, instead of a fascist teddy bear, he’d be Hans Gruber with a .357 law degree.

      • MattyG says:

        But he wasn’t chortling at a closed door session of the Federalist Society or even a quiet neo Nazi fund raiser. Unless he literally has an army to argue for him he overplayed his hand with that reveal. And if his words can’t be, or aren’t, used against him and his regime the republic *is* in deep trouble.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Until Trump leaves office, Bill Barr has all the “army” he needs. Wingnut welfare will substitute for Trump afterwards.

          The fly in the ointment would be if a progressive Democratic administration chose to look back as well as forward. Unless they have unlimited political support, doubtful, I would prefer they rebuild the DoJ and the dozens of agencies this administration has gutted through neglect and abuse. Bill Barr’s betting on that, too. He’s a smart guy.

          • MattyG says:

            correct of course – but I was being very literal about an army. Vae victis is not delivered by the chattering class. His comment seems directed at the future, or is just a crude giddy mistep on his part.

  10. harpie says:

    I can’t add much to this conversation, but it reminds me that there were reports that Trump sometimes used other peoples’ phones during the 2016 campaign.
    Then, there were some stories early in the administration about him not wanting to use the phones he was supposed to be using.

    Also, about Eisenberg, in September, Marcy noted:
    6:49 PM – 26 Sep 2019

    Somehow this NYT story that does so much else doesn’t tell us whether Eisenberg is one of the people who put the Ukraine transcript onto the covert system bc it was so damning. [link] [screenshots]

    He’s the guy, after all, who counseled KT McFarland to avoid leaving evidence of an earlier quid pro quo lying around.

    • Vicks says:

      So Eisenberg is more a “cleaner” than a “fixer”?
      In books and movies they get paid per job for their handiwork.
      I wonder if party loyalty is enough?

    • P J Evans says:

      I remember those stories about Trmp and the secure phone they wanted him to use. IIRC, he didn’t want to have to learn how it worked, because it was *different* from the insecure phone he still prefers.

    • subtropolis says:

      Not just during the campaign. Trump has been doing that phone thing for years. Michael Cohen may have mentioned it, as well as (Donna?) Rett. And Stormy Daniels claimed that she would call Keith Schiller’s mobile to speak with Trump.

  11. Jamnitzer says:

    I’ve always been suspicious that Putin and Erdogan signed large deal the same month that Turkey hired Flynn. Russia wanted to cut off natural gas to Ukraine, but all the pipelines to Europe ran through their country. Putin negotiated a Black Sea route to Bulgaria and was in the construction of the under water pipeline. When Putin took Crimea, Obama and the EU forced Bulgaria to invalidate the deal and blocked Putin’s plan. Turkey and Russia had icy relations over a plane shot down by Turkey and Russian blocked commerce and tourism to Turkey since 2015. In September 2016 Russia gave Erdogan several million and restored trade and tourism. The agreed to run the natural gas pipeline through Turkey into Greece, there by allowing Putin to still have an outlet into Europe in case he needed to play hardball with Ukraine. The same month turkey signed a 500,000 deal with Flynn. There are u.s. intelligence reports from the month before that supposedly heard Russians discussing how they might use Flynn in the Trump campaign. So is this just a case of Putin hiding his payment to Flynn by laundering it through turkey? I don’t think Trump was paying Flynn during the campaign. The only thing that Flynn did for Turkey was write a newspaper article and that might be cover too. Just coincidence?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Flynn didn’t write the newspaper column, he didn’t know what was in it until he sold his name and put it on the column. Then there was Flynn’s proposed kidnapping of a legal US resident for transport and probable torture and murder in Turkey. Flynn was fine with that too, and it would have paid well. I don’t think we need to limit Flynn to a single foreign client, a single moral failing, or a single crime.

  12. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Pence has always acted in a way that suggests he knows exactly what he doesn’t want to know in order to maintain (more than) plausible deniability. The “never in a room alone with a woman who isn’t his wife” thing? That’s transferable to never being in a room alone with the president while the president is doing dodgy shit.

    It’s implicit in what Yates and McCord say in those interviews — they knew that Pence wouldn’t put himself in a position to be directly complicit in what the president was doing.

    And the “same password” thing is risible. If anything, it implies that there was some kind of foldering going on.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Pence knew. The only genius he has ever displayed is for maintaining the appearance of being out of the loop. He oversaw the entire transition; God knows Trump wasn’t capable of managing that. Once the genuinely competent Chris Christie got forced out, Pence supplied the perfect combination of Dudley Do-Right TV presence and self-abasement. A cover story can be, and was, manufactured ex post facto. Who better to sell it than the sanctimoniously obtuse VP?

  13. Rusty Austin says:

    The old saw “history is written by the winners” may have been true as recently as the 1980s, but now history is written on the internet. And the internet never forgets, moreso with each passing day.

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