Michael Flynn’s lawyer on Monday demanded in a court filing that the FBI thoroughly search its internal “Sentinel database” and turn over “every” document in which agents documented their critical January 2017 White House interview with the former national security adviser, after it emerged last month that FBI officials had apparently manipulated so-called “302” witness reports in the case weeks after the interview.
Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, also asserted that handwritten notes from the interview drafted by since-fired FBI agent Peter Strzok and another agent are plainly inconsistent with one another, as well as the final FBI 302 that underpinned Flynn’s guilty plea for one count of making false statements to investigators.
The handwritten notes were produced last week by prosecutors, who called Flynn’s claims that he was tricked into the guilty plea “demonstrably false.”
Although the government has insisted that the FBI’s after-the-fact edits to its witness reports were “largely grammatical and stylistic,” Powell argued that they were in fact highly substantive and improper alterations that inaccurately made it appear that Flynn had issued blanket denials to agents’ questions.
Powell noted in the filing that she will file a motion seeking to have the case against Flynn thrown out because of “egregious government misconduct.” Most courts agree that the Supreme Court “would find that the government has an obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence at the plea stage,” Powell wrote, adding that the government had deliberately manipulated its witness reports to secure a guilty plea.
In the meantime, Powell argued there was no excuse for the FBI not to immediately produce comprehensive “redaction history, audit trail, and metadata” for the Flynn witness report, which the government has argued shows that Flynn lied to Strzok and another agent concerning his communications with Russia’s ambassador on two matters: a United Nations vote on Israel, as well as the Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia.
But, just a day before the fateful Jan. 24, 2017 Flynn White House interview, The Washington Post ran a story based on multiple U.S. intelligence sources openly stating that the FBI had wiretapped Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador, reviewed them, and found no wrongdoing.
And notes from both Strzok and the other agent indicated they did not detect any physical signs that Flynn was lying to them, Powell observed — frustrating agents’ allegedly “pretextual” efforts to trap Flynn, who had made powerful enemies in Washington under the Obama administration, on a process crime.
Obama administration Director of the National Intelligence James Clapper told a reporter to take the “kill shot” on Michael Flynn, newly revealed text messages show. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) (The Associated Press)
Powell’s main jumping-off point in Monday’s filing was the newly revealed text messages between Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which revealed that Page — who was not present for the Flynn interview — had apparently made “edits” to the 302 report. Page told Strzok on February 10, 2017 that she “gave my edits to Bill to put on your desk.”
Later that day, “Strzok went into the office, picked up Page’s edits, and made changes that any reasonable person would deem material to the 302,” Powell wrote.
Specifically, Strzok “added a definitive statement,” asserting in the 302 report that “Flynn stated he did not” ask the Russian ambassador to vote a certain way on a United Nations resolution concerning Israel.