Trump Tried to Claim Privilege Over a Document Flynn Claimed to Not Remember

I’m beginning to read the SSCI Russia Report. I’m sure I’ll have a running slew of posts as I go.

SSCI was quite peeved about Trump’s expansive claims of Executive Privilege, extending even to its Transition members (SSCI noted that Obama officials were all willing to share details of communications directly with Obama).

One example of a crazy-ass privilege claim came pertained to Mike Flynn’s aide during the Transition, Sarah Flaherty. The White House claimed privilege over a document and provided this description of the document to the committee, which omitted even that it pertained to Russia.

One of these documents was described to Committee counsel as an undated eight-paragraph memorandum with a sticky note dated January 9, 2017, from Flynn to McFarland stating: “re: [a foreign nation] for your consideration.” The paragraphs were further summarized as follows:

(U) 1: Discussion identifying foreign government internal personnel movements.

(U) 2: Recitation of the author’s assessment of the foreign government’s view of areas ,of long-term strategic concern shared with the U.S.

(U) 3: ·Assessment of the foreign government’s view concerning the effect ofpost-1992 U.S. policies for both countries.

(U) 4: Discussion of the author’s view of challenges facing the President (broad), especially in the national security area:

(U) 5: List of issues for the U.S. involving the foreign government and the author’s observation regarding the degree of connection or non-conriection to the foreign government:

(U) 6: Expresses a need for a plan to make progress on strategic matters, not specifically tied to the foreign government.

(U) 7: Author’s assessment that the foreign-government and the people of the foreign nation have substantial goodwill towards the President-elect.

(U) 8: Suggestion/proposal for possibilities of engagement with the foreign government. 32

Don McGahn claimed it was privileged because it had been prepared for a top official and concerned foreign policy.

But SSCI figured out what the document was. It was a memo provided by Robert Foresman, who adapted it from one an oligarch’s associate did.

Based on the description, the Committee identified the memorandum as- a document already in its possession, produced by Robert Foresman-who· was not a member of the Campaign nor the Transition Team-and written to Flynn.34 The Committee also knew from its investigation that Foresman had adapted a substantial part of the memorandum from another document shared by Allen Vine, who is an associate of the Putin-linked Russian oligarch Suleiman Keriniov.35 The Committee’s position was that the document could not be privileged: it was not drafted by a member of the Transition Team and had, in part, originated with a close associate of a Kremlin insider. Committee counsel informed the WHCO of the general contours of these facts (though not specific names or the details of how it had acquired the information). WHCO subsequently dropped its claim of potential executive privilege and produced the document to the Committee.

What makes this expansive claim of privilege all the nuttier is when Mueller asked Flynn about the two meetings he had with Foresman, in what was the last known question Mueller (as opposed to EDVA) asked of him, Flynn claimed he didn’t remember either one.

It’s really not clear Flynn ever really cooperated with Mueller. Which is, I guess, why Billy Barr is going to such lengths to ensure he’ll be rewarded for not doing so.

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.