“Oversight:” Mike Flynn Lied to Protect Barbara Ledeen, Who Then Fed Disinformation to Sara Carter

In a footnote to an October 2019 filing, prosecutors in the Mike Flynn case suggested that Sidney Powell was misrepresenting Flynn’s “cooperation and candor” in his first interviews with Robert Mueller’s team, a claim that is consistent with Flynn’s own description of his lawyers’ unhappy review of it. The 302s liberated by BuzzFeed earlier this year show just how ridiculous some of the lies Flynn told in his November 16, 2017 meeting with Mueller’s prosecutors.

For example, in addition to repeating his lies about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak and claiming that he “did not specifically recall conversations regarding Wikileaks” during the campaign, Flynn also claimed that he never had conversations about how to get Hillary’s missing emails.

FLYNN did not recall discussions about a concerted effort to locate [Hillary’s] missing emails.

[snip]

FLYNN never had any conversations about how to get CLINTON’s missing emails. FLYNN did not remember hearing anyone else on the campaign discuss this either. The consensus was that they hoped the emails would be found all of a sudden.

Flynn would go on to unforget all three topics in the weeks and months ahead.

On the topic of searching for Hillary’s emails, however, Flynn was still shading the truth in his final interview before pleading guilty on November 29, 2017. Flynn described that he had met Peter Smith regarding business development in 2015, and described that Smith had emailed during the campaign. But, “FLYNN lost interest in what SMITH sent him because he ‘did not see any there, there’,” per the interview report. As to others who might be involved in the effort, Flynn described that “possibly Barbara LEDEEN” had been a recipient of some of the emails from Smith, though suggested Sam Clovis was a more important player.

It would be six months later, in an interview on May 4, 2018, before prosecutors returned to Flynn’s role in hunting down Hillary’s emails in depth. It appears that, at first, they asked Flynn generally about the Peter Smith effort, and this time, he remembered that “LEDEEN’s role” in the effort “was as a conduit.” Flynn explained that he gave “time and attention” to the effort “out of respect for his friendship with LEDEEN.” It was in that context that Flynn remembered that someone “sent files to FLYNN on one or two occasions,” though even then, he couldn’t remember whether the files were about Benghazi or the missing emails.

The prosecutors started asking Flynn about the actual emails — many of which were liberated in the documents liberated by BuzzFeed.

Prosecutors first asked about an email that the FBI Agent who wrote up the 302 described as a May 24, 2016 email from Ledeen to Flynn. But it’s actually an email Ledeen sent one of the chief purveyors of disinformation about the Flynn case, Catherine Herridge, promising “evidence” (though there are notations on it that may reflect Flynn got a hard copy).

Prosecutors then showed an email Flynn sent to Ledeen on June 16, 2016, in response to Ledeen’s question, “You got the Signal email.”

Flynn’s response reflects him having downloaded and read the report on the effort to obtain the emails. “amazing!” Flynn responded. “I’ll speak more off line with you about it this evening or tomorrow.”

On September 10, 2016, Ledeen wrote Flynn a “TIME SENSITIVE” email, explaining that “we are at the point of rubber hitting the road re the project you know I have been working on.”

In response to Ledeen’s request, the interview suggests, Flynn spoke with someone who had been an early campaign advisor, but he told Mueller’s team that “he did not really remember the details of the conversation.”

He claimed to remember nothing of the October 29, 2016 Hushmail promising a Phase II of the report, however.

“You’ve got me on this one,” Mike Flynn claimed, then described asking Barbara Ledeen, “Can’t you just tell me?” and imagining that, “he became frustrated trying to open the message.”

There was another HushMail on November 3, which Flynn suggested might pertain to Sidney Blumenthal.

But he suggested that “The servers may have been a second set of email messages to FLYNN,” and explained it was all “secret squirrel stuff.”

Flynn’s interview then proceeded to talk about an in-person meeting that Ledeen had set up, apparently with this same person, to discuss microtargeting; the pitch appeared to combine Sidney Blumenthal, servers in Eastern Europe, and microtargeting. It was in this context that, six months after claiming that he never spoke to anyone about getting Hillary’s missing emails, he admitted he actually talked about pursuing the Hillary emails “to anyone he was with on the Trump plane,” including Trump.

FLYNN conveyed to people that people were looking for the missing emails and were confident they would eventually find them. FLYNN would have said this to anyone he was with on the TRUMP plane. FLYNN does not know if specifically said he knew people but he could have. People on the plane include TRUMP. FLYNN did not believe he conveyed to the team information about the servers in the Ukraine or Eastern Europe. FLYNN was not ruling it out but does not recall exactly what he said.

Barbara Ledeen, still a key Senate Judiciary Committee staffer to Senators who have led the effort to undermine the Russian investigation, was right in the thick of all this during the 2016 election: Secret servers in Ukraine, missing emails, and microtargeting. That’s the woman overseeing the investigation into the investigation.

Which makes the other emails liberated in the BuzzFeed release implicating Ledeen all the more important.

It turns out that, before prosecutors asked about all this, they may have been alerted to a text Ledeen sent on May 1, 2018, inquiring about the status of Flynn’s case. Mueller’s team raised the text two weeks after the Peter Smith and microtargeting discussion, on May 17, 2018, when prosecutors focused on Ledeen’s extensive effort to monitor the Russian investigation (starting well before Mueller was appointed).

The backup liberated by Buzzfeed shows that Michael Ledeen inquired about whether he “and Sara” could say that Flynn was getting an immunity for testimony deal on March 31, 2017 (the same way Ledeen’s co-conspirators in Iran-Contra escaped accountability), establishing that the Ledeens funneled stories to Sara Carter.  A year later, Flynn conceded, he may have still been a source for Sara Carter stories via the Ledeens, in this case for a story about Flynn getting discovery.

BARBARA reached out FLYNN but he did not respond to her with anything specific. FLYNN may have told her they received discovery and were reviewing the documents.

FLYNN had many conversations around the time of this article but was never asked if the information could be shared with CARTER, nor did he direct anyone to share it with her.

Prosecutors asked about several other Carter stories, and Flynn’s long-suffering attorney, Rob Kelner, admitted that Carter had reached out several times before the plea deal and that he (Kelner) may have been the source for the detail that Andrew McCabe reached out to Flynn about an interview on short notice.

More interesting, however, are the emails between those Carter stories, which show Michael Ledeen (who, remember, was one of the first people Flynn called before secretly undermining sanctions with Sergey Kislyak in December 2016) reached out on April 17, 2017, telling Flynn, “it’s time…”

Then Michael Ledeen reached out the next day (apparently to a different Flynn email address) to arrange a pastrami dinner with extra pickles, Dr. Brown’s diet soda, and “a message for you.”

The meeting would have been on Monday April 24, 2017. Some of Carter’s scoops have been solid, albeit hyped. Others have been garbage. Her regurgitation of Sidney Powell’s false claims was pure propaganda. But she was also responsible, with John Solomon, for one of the most important unsubstantiated stories of the entire investigation, one that claimed Andrew McCabe had said they were going to “fuck Flynn” in a meeting after Flynn’s interview, an allegation that came up in Flynn’s last interview with Mueller (at a time when Mueller would replicate the two investigations that had been done on this allegation in the past).

The same interview reveals that Barbara Ledeen was responsible for another false claim that never died, that there was some original 302 that said something different from the one that recorded Flynn’s lies.

“Barbara tends to have a ‘big mouth,'” Flynn complained on May 17, 2018, as part of these discussions. But he still did what, according to the same interview report, she kept nagging him to do: withdraw his guilt plea. For a long time, it looked like she was simply protecting her husband Michael’s close friend. But with the backup materials, it seems just as likely that Ledeen’s efforts to undermine the Russian investigation are as much about her own complicity as Flynn’s himself.

A person who had a key role Senate Judiciary Committee oversight of the Russian investigation was sending Hushmail and Signal communications looking for secret servers in Ukraine during the events in question.

Update: Here’s my summary of what each of the 302s included from when they were released in January).

Update: In January, Flynn thought that the April message that Ledeen was passing on may have been from Trump.

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60 replies
  1. klynn says:

    “A person who had a key role Senate Judiciary Committee oversight of the Russian investigation was sending Hushmail and Signal communications looking for secret servers in Ukraine during the events in question.”

    So would this potentially explain her devices being taken recently IRT Rudy?

  2. Peterr says:

    But he suggested that “The servers may have been a second set of email messages to FLYNN,” and explained it was all “secret squirrel stuff.”

    Flynn has always given me a kind of Boris Badenov vibe, forever trying and failing to catch Moose and Squirrel, and this only strengthens that imagery. Does this make Ledeen into Natasha Fatale?

  3. BobCon says:

    CBS needs to freeze Herridge and review her work now. She’s reporting on possible Russia-related hacking today with regard to Colonial. CBS has to determine how far over to John Solomon territory she’s gone, and do it now before it gets even worse for them.

  4. Rugger9 says:

    It’s becoming a pattern with the RWNM and GOP types that when they scream about any topic then projection is at the top of the reasons for their ire. On a more concrete level, let’s also remember that current darling Governor DeSantis was identified as one of the Congresscritters what had been given assistance by the Russians (he was in the House at the time) in 2016. As a practical result there is no question that Putin has leverage on this guy.

    As for the Ledeens, especially Barbara, were they supposed to be registered under FARA if they were passing information back and forth?

    This is why the look forward, not backward idea is no longer consistent with keeping our democracy, because these bad actors keep coming back. Thom Hartmann has a good backgrounder on Billy Barr in one of the rare days he’s not so smug about being smart. The GOP is making its play now in the legislatures and the “audits” to impose their rule as several have noted, and in 2024 I doubt we will see one GOPer stand for the rule of law because all of them will have been purged. Liz Cheney will be canceled by her own party tomorrow because she’s not a Trumpkin.

    • tinao says:

      Interesting tidbit Rugger9, I work with a Russian nurse and she was telling me and another trump free employee that putin is very sick. He has some type of parkinsons and cancer. She said he is dying.

        • tinao says:

          I don’t know Rayne, but my friend used to be a pediatrician over there and stays in touch with her friends. Thinking back, he does seem to have a bit of the parkinsons shuffle. I just hope the IC is doing its homework as to who would fill that void.

          • Rayne says:

            Interesting. I need to go back and look through more recent videos of him. So much of what the U.S. sees is photos, and the hockey game wouldn’t reveal a shuffle let alone any other Parkinsonian symptoms with all those pads on while camera tends to follow action.

            • Rugger9 says:

              That also would assume the game took place when it said it was. Knowing prior Soviet / Pravda sleight of hand, it’s probably a tape. To the idea that Putin wants the loose ends tied up before he goes might make some sense, but if Putin is dying there is probably not enough time to conquer the Ukraine.

              As for no one expecting stuff, there is only one true theme:

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cj8n4MfhjUc

            • Tracy Lynn says:

              Vlad looked winded in one of the closeups of his face after the third goal in the video. None of those guys were skating that hard — I don’t think he should have been that winded unless he had some sort of breathing problem. Or health problem.

              • Rayne says:

                Or he hasn’t really been working out regularly…or he’s had COVID and he’s not regained lung capacity. Lots of explanations, mostly iffy.

            • Ginevra diBenci says:

              I don’t play hockey, but I do have Parkinson’s (atypical), diagnosed 15 years ago. People with Parkinson’s can often engage in complex repetitive activities involving muscle memory (like dancing) even when symptoms prevent them from walking normally. I wonder if the the skating patterns involved in hockey might override some type of movement disorder. Putin skates with a distinctive rightward lean that seems habitual, and needless to say the other players are focused on compensating for his deficits.

              • it's complicated says:

                Maybe totally unrelated, but when I think back at the glorious times when I would go to an ice rink nearly every day on the way back home from high school, I was frustrated about uneven training caused by the fact that you were only allowed to skate in the clockwise direction!
                Re: Putin and possible terminal diseases.
                I keep hearing the same about Xi Jinping by two mutually unrelated people with an interest in China. Who knows. OTOH I gave up on counting how often Kim Jongun disappears for a few weeks and the wild rumors caused by that. Maybe that kind of thing is just a side effect of opaque and totalitarian regimes?

    • subtropolis says:

      I find it especially bizarre that they kept going on about those “missing emails”, as though they might be found somewhere. Let’s back up a bit: they were only “missing” in the sense that Clinton held them back from those she turned over to the FBI, on the basis that they were personal communications having nothing whatsoever to do with her duties as Sec. State.

      And yet, the Frothy Right could not stop going on and on about “finding” those suspicious emails. At first, when That Dipshit began mentioning them, I’d assumed that it was being treated as any other gaslighting crap he spewed to keep the rubes agitated. But them, along comes Peter Smith, and the Ledeens, and Roger Stone: all tripping over each other in an attempt to broker deals over the dark web and with Assange to get hold of the emails that must — somehow — be out there. Really? There are files that I swear were written to a Zip drive back in ‘98 which I can no longer find. Should I try poking around on the dark web? It was just so fucking stupid as bullshit to feed to the angry marks in the general population; it’s ASTONISHING to me that this bunch actually seemed to believe it.

      Ditto the server in Ukraine. When Dipshit first mentioned that (well after the election, as I recall) I’d assumed that he’d simply garbled something he’d heard elsewhere (as if it ever really mattered where his gaslighting was concerned) but that, too, took on a life of its own.

      They’re not merely mendacious pricks; they really do all seem to be fucking nuts.

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        ‘Mendacious Pricks’…

        Good title for a book… or the name of a punk rock band…

        Speaking of Hitlery’s emails, didn’t the Prexit try to claim she had had her hard drive bleached to get rid of them?

        I wonder… did she use the same brand of bleach he was suggesting people use to drive off covid?

        Now that’s a commercial I’d like to see…

        “Hello, I’m the ex-president of the United States…”

        “And I was almost the president of the United States…”

        “And we’re here, today, to show you just how many different uses this one bottle of common, household bleach can actually have!”

        Not unlike that old SNL routine, no?

        “It’s a dessert topping!”

        “No, it’s a floor wax!”

        “No, it’s BOTH!”

        • Krisy Gosney says:

          ‘Hitlery’s?’ Is that a simple typo? Or is it a playground-level name on a site that routinely chastises people for using playground-level names?

          • TooLoose LeTruck says:

            Actually, it was meant to be sarcasm…

            I apologize for offending your sensibilities…

            And I have seen some pretty vulgar commentary here from time to time…

    • ADDISON says:

      There is absolutely NOTHING liberal about the NYTimes. Every single time I read that sentence my brain starts convulsing.

      • Rapier says:

        The NY Times is liberal in regard to most things scientific especially in the sense that science is now liberal. It is liberal in relation most things art and cultural, at least to the extent that it isn’t Conservative which holds that everything is political. Eschewing political slants on art and culture is of course now liberal.

        However the NY Times is most liberal and has been for 90 some years in that fascists are given a seat at the table and given a fair hearing because Liberalism of the Classic variety demands that all sides have a say.

        That fascists reject democracy and that all sides should be given a fair hearing never sways the Times, so devoted to Liberalism are they. So Rush and the Nazi from Toledo and countless others are accorded respect.
        https://alphahistory.com/nazigermany/goebbels-on-the-reichstag/

        The Times did fail to give a fair hearing to Segregationists in the 60’s however. The sin for which they can never atone.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I fail to see how Joe Biden owed Rahm Emanuel anything. He alienated the left by design, bolted the White House after a short time, spent an equally short time padding his resume and wallet as an “investment banker,” and was a shitty mayor of Chicago. He delivered nothing to Joe Biden but his ego. Biden has, however, nominated him to be Ambassador to Japan.

    The nomination would get Rahm out of the country – a good thing – but would put him at the center of US relations with a powerful political and military ally, and a plethora of financial, manufacturing, and trading companies. Sometimes, perhaps counterintuitively, Just Say No is the best answer.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/11/biden-rahm-emanuel-us-ambassador-japan

    • MB says:

      Totally agree, but still, in comparison to Richard Grenell’s “ambassadorship” in Germany, I’ll take it.

    • chicago_bunny says:

      As a Chicagoan, I could not agree more. His handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting should have been disqualifying for any public role for the rest of time.

    • notjonathon says:

      I was hoping the would send him to China, where his ingratiating personality could surely win over Xi and company, instead of here to Japan. However, there is probably not much he can actually do to fuck up US-Japan relations; he will likely be easy prey for the Japanese tradition of wining, dining and offering “hospitality” to visiting dignitaries. That should keep him busy enough, and as you say, he will not be within 6000 miles of DC.

        • vvv says:

          Yes! If they hadda give him something, at least they kept him away from there.

          Don’t recall if I mentioned, but I have friends and even family who worked under Rahm – he was not well thought of, nor well liked.

          I will admit he can be amusing on Sundays, facing off with Christie, kind of Laurel and Hardy …

    • klynn says:

      While some say Rahm was skeptical about the auto bailout, he carried the effort out for Obama.

      In the process, he worked to save a number of Japanese US operations. Additionally, Japan and Japanese related companies have heavy investment in the Midwest as well. Rahm knows the Midwest.

      Rahm ticks some boxes important for an Ambassador to Japan and Japan was grateful for his hard work in helping Obama with the auto bailout.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/10/us/politics/10talkshow.html

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Rahm might tick a few boxes, but I doubt it is the Japanese ones that counted. The US record in choosing ambassadors does not suggest it often considers what the host country wants. Like US foreign policy, in general, they are frequently chosen for domestic political reasons or because of some special, usually money-related relationship with the president. (Apart from the hard duty posts, which usually go to career diplomats.) Trump’s picks were a more extreme version of a trend.

        Rahm is a me-me-me, all big money and big bidness guy, the opposite of what Biden says he wants his domestic policy to be. Maybe Tokyo is Biden’s way of getting Rahm out of his hair, in a nice inversion of the office seat by the window – a form of useless isolation – the Japanese once gave executives it wanted to depart (but would not fire outright).

        • boba says:

          I had one of those seats! But it was because I only came for a few weeks a year to do IT projects during the Bon festival (when everything was relatively quiet).
          I wonder if Joe is doing this for Barack – doing the old boss a favor giving one of his boy’s a plum no show job. That it moves him into a time-zone 12 hours away is a bonus.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Stereotypically, isolation via a lonely window seat – rather than being physically in the center of group activity – was meant to humiliate someone and make them want to depart. It was also a signal that group solidarity required that the person be ostracized, usually because the person had embarrassed the group or failed to meet its standards.

            If you were a foreigner visiting Japan on assigment, the seat was probably meant to keep you from contaminating the group and finding out stuff you were not supposed to know, especially if you represented a foreign owner or partner. Overt behavior may have changed, but such things would likely remain as social undercurrents.

  6. person1597 says:

    Does Liz have her go-go boots on? Does she have a brand new box of matches? Bring it!
    “You keep lyin’ when you oughta be truthin’
    And you keep losing when you oughta not bet
    You keep samin’ when you oughta be a’changin’
    Now what’s right is right but you ain’t been right yet”
    https://youtu.be/wN35w-trGRo

  7. Jenny says:

    Thanks Dr. Marcy.
    Regarding Flynn, I go back to his exchange with Judge Sullivan, December 18, 2018
    https://www.justsecurity.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/121818am-USA-v-Michael-Flynn-Sentencing.pdf

    Judge: Do you wish to challenge the circumstances on which you were interviewed by the FBI?
    Flynn: No, Your Honor.
    Judge: Do you understand that by maintaining your guilty plea and continuing with sentencing, you will give up your right forever to challenge the circumstances under which you were interviewed?
    Flynn: Yes, Your Honor.
    Judge: Do you have any concerns that you entered your guilty plea before you or your attorneys were able to review information that could have been helpful to your defense?
    Flynn: No, Your Honor.
    Judge: At the time of your January 24th, 2017 interview with the FBI, were you not aware that lying to FBI investigators was a federal crime?
    Flynn: I was not — I was aware.
    Judge: You were aware?
    Flynn: Yeah.

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