Mueller Report Vol. II
Obstruction – Michael Flynn is in trouble and the DOJ knows
Background: Flynn lied to the FBI about talking to Russian Ambassador Kislyak about telling Russian President Putin to not respond aggressively to the sanctions.
“Shortly after the election, President-Elect Trump announced he would appoint Michael Flynn as his National Security Advisor. For the next two months, Flynn played an active role on the Presidential Transition Team (PTT) coordinating policy positions and communicating with foreign government officials, including Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak.”
“Members of the intelligence community were surprised by Russia’s decision not to retaliate in response to the sanctions. When analyzing Russia’s response, they became aware of Flynn’s discussion of sanctions with Kislyak. Previously, the FBI had opened an investigation of Flynn based on his relationship with the Russian govermment. Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak became a key component of that investigation.”
“Comey then briefed the President-Elect on the sensitive material in the Steele reporting. Comey recalled that the President-Elect seemed defensive, so Comey decided to assure him that the FBI was not investigating him personally. Comey recalled he did not want the President-Elect to think of the conversation as a “J. Edgar Hoover move.”
“The public statements of incoming Administration officials denying that Flynn and Kislyak had discussed sanctions alarmed senior DOJ officials, who were aware that the statements were not true. Those officials were concerned that Flynn had lied to his colleagues-who in turn had unwittingly misled the American public-creating a compromise situation for Flynn because the Department of Justice assessed that the Russian government could prove Flynn lied. The FBI investigative team also believed that Flynn’s calls with Kislyak and subsequent denials about discussing sanctions raised potential Logan Act issues and were relevant to the FBI’s broader Russia investigation.”
Logan Act: It is illegal for unauthorized US persons to negotiate with foreign governments that the US is in diputes with. In other words, Flynn talking to the Russian Ambassador to tell Putin not to retaliate against the sanctions could be a violation of the Logan Act.
“On January 26, 2017, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates contacted White House Counsel Donald McGahn and informed him that she needed to discuss a sensitive matter with him in person…Yates said that the public statements made by the Vice President denying that Flynn and Kislyak discussed sanctions were not true and put Flynn in a potentially compromised position because the Russians would know he had lied. Yates disclosed that Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI. She declined to answer a specific question about how Flynn had performed during that interview, but she indicated that Flynn ‘s statements to the FBI were similar to the statements he had made to Pence and Spicer denying that he had discussed sanctions. McGahn came away from the meeting with the impression that the FBI had not pinned Flynn down in lies, but he asked John Eisenberg, who served as legal advisor to the National Security Council, to examine potential legal issues raised by Flynn’s FBI interview and his contacts with Kislyak.”
“The next day, January 27, 2017, McGahn and Eisenberg discussed the results of Eisenberg’s initial legal research into Flynn’s conduct, and specifically whether Flynn may have violated the Espionage Act, the Logan Act , or 18 U .S.C. § 1001. Based on his preliminary research, Eisenberg informed McGahn that there was a possibility that Flynn had violated 18 U.S.C. § 1001 and the Logan Act. Eisenberg noted that the United States had never successfully prosecuted an individual under the Logan Act and that Flynn could have possible defenses, and told McGahn that he believed it was unlikely that a prosecutor would pursue a Logan Act charge under the circumstances.”
“That same morning, McGahn asked Yates to return to the White House to discuss Flynn again. In that second meeting, McGahn expressed doubts that the Department of Justice would bring a Logan Act prosecution against Flynn, but stated that the White House did not want to take action that would interfere with an ongoing FBI investigation of Flynn. Yates responded that Department of Justice had notified the White House so that it could take action in response to the information provided. McGahn ended the meeting by asking Yates for access to the underlying information the Department of Justice possessed pertaining to Flynn’s discussions with Kislyak.”