Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Does The Flynn Case Lead To Obama?

In what follows I'll be proceeding at a deliberate pace, so you'll need to be patient.

While the internet has been consumed by the Dem House's impeachment theater, there was a development in the Flynn case. On September 30 Michael Flynn's new lawyer, Sidney Powell, filed a supplemental status report. The report itself is fairly brief--5 double spaced pages--and not difficult to follow. Much longer is the attached opinion in the Rafiekian case, in which Judge Trenga tossed the jury's guilty verdict, stating that no reasonable juror could have convicted on the facts presented. Bijan Rafiekian, of course, was Flynn's partner in Flynn Intelligence Group (FIG), and was charged with violating FARA, the Foreign Agents Registratin Act. You can read Powell's report here or defer to Margot Cleveland's lucid summary. Or you can have the best of it all by reading both. Cleveland's article is here:

New Evidence Suggests Prosecutors Pressured Michael Flynn To Lie
With each new court filing, the public learns more about the government’s manipulation of Trump’s former national security advisor, Michael Flynn.

What Powell does in the report is to trace the connection between the two cases--Rafiekian and Flynn--and the way that pressure was exerted on Flynn via the targeting of Flynn's son by Team Mueller (but authorized by Rod Rosenstein) to coerce a guilty plea from Flynn. Powell makes no bones about it. The plea was coerced. But she goes beyond that and argues for additional forms of prosecutorial misconduct by Team Mueller prosecutor Brandon van Grack--including outright lies to the court.

Of course, van Grack denies this, but Powell makes a plausible case. Cleveland has the details. Powell also points out the significance of this misconduct as a justification for Judge Sullivan to authorize her extremely wide ranging demands for document production from the government. The extraordinary scope of the document request doesn't actually constitute an argument against it. If your client has been framed by the government then any amount of document production necessary to prove what happened should be allowed--beginning with the inception of the case itself, all the way through its conclusion, if intervening events were influenced by the illegitimate inception. And that's exactly the extent of what Powell is demanding.

Hold that thought regarding the the illegitimate inception of the investigation into Flynn, because we'll be returning to it.

Sundance, at CTH, also discussed the new filing in the Flynn case: Smart Move – Flynn Lawyer Tells Judge Motive Behind Why Flynn Took Guilty Plea. While covering much of the same ground as Cleveland regarding prosecutorial misconduct in the case, he also provides further background details regarding the Flynn investigation itself (he has done this in the past, as well). After documenting Rod Rosenstein's perfidy in this repeated scope memo broadenings of the Mueller Witchhunt, sundance moves on to a highly significant fact:

Flynn was under FISA Court (FISC) authorized active surveillance

Here's what that means. Ordinarily, routine FISA coverage of Russian diplomats in the US would scoop up conversations between those Russian diplomats and US citizens. For example, the conversation between Russian Ambassador Kislyak and (incoming) US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn on December 29, 2016. The identity of Americans would need to be "unmasked" to be used by our counterintelligence agency--the FBI.

Sundance points out that that's exactly the narrative that James Clapper and Sally Yates allowed to be accepted--that one way or another Flynn's identity was unmasked.

But, sundance notes, in texts between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page we get an angry comment, stating that that narrative is "incorrect." Which should mean that it was incorrect to say that Flynn's identity was ever "unmasked". Here is the relevant exchange:

What does this mean?

What it means is that, if there was no need to "unmask" Flynn's identity, then Flynn had to have been the subject of a separate FISA order--one that targeted Flynn personally--and that was separate from the FISA that would have covered the Russian ambassador. In turn, for there to have been a FISA on Flynn personally, there would have had to have been a Full Counterintelligence Investigation (FCI) on Flynn, personally. In the nature of things, for the FISA to have been in place by December, 2016, you would have to assume that the FCI on Flynn had been opened at least several months earlier.

Two very obvious points follow from this.

First, if there was a FISA on Trump's National Security Advisor designate, and that FISA continued into the opening months of the new Trump administration (it did), then the FBI and Obama adminstration operatives--and holdovers, especially in the DoJ but also in the National Security apparatus more generally--would have had an extraordinary window into the very top levels of the Trump administration The ramifications are truly mind boggling.

The second point is the importance for any investigation into the Russia Hoax to get to the bottom of what justification there could have been to launch a FCI on Michael Flynn. To do so would entail, in effect, presenting probable cause that Flynn was an agent of the Russian government. To then go further and obtain the FISA on Flynn personally would entail probable cause that Flynn was engaged in criminal activity related to his alleged status as an agent of the Russian government. All of this, of course, is exactly what Sidney Powell wants to know--as you can imagine! I think we can rest assured that at this point both Flynn and Powell have a fairly clear idea of how this came about, and for documentation on that I'll turn to an article by Margot Cleveland:

Sidney Powell’s Latest Motion In Michael Flynn’s Case Is A Russiagate Bombshell
Lawyer Sidney Powell’s bigger plan is to expose the breadth and depth of SpyGate and how flaying Michael Flynn lay at the heart of the soft coup attempt.

Cleveland draws on Powell's document requests to ferret out the purported grounds for the FCI on Flynn. There are two groups of documents that appear to bear on this issue directly. The first has to do with Flynn's attendance at a dinner in Cambridge, UK, that included known US and UK intelligence operatives of long standing:

Also intriguing is Powell’s request for: “All payments, notes, memos, correspondence, and instructions by and between the FBI, CIA, or DOD with Stefan Halper—going back as far as 2014—regarding Michael Flynn, Svetlana Lokhova, Mr. Richard Dearlove (of MI6), and Professor Christopher Andrew (connected with MI5) and Halper’s compensation through the DOD Office of Net Assessment as evidenced by the whistleblower complaint of Adam Lovinger, addressed in our brief.” 
What is fascinating about this request is that the uninformed will see the 2014 date as evidence that Powell is on a fishing expedition, while in reality, her bid for this information shows that Powell has in three short months pieced together more tiles in the mosaic of the Russia collusion fraud than Robert Mueller did in two years. 
That is because the spying on Trump likely began with spying on Flynn, and involved not just the FBI, CIA, and Department of Defense, but their British counterparts, and dated back to Flynn’s time as President Obama’s Defense Intelligence Agency director. Then after Flynn joined Trump’s team, Halper and the British crew peddled a fake story that Flynn was having an intrigue with a Russian agent named Svetlana Lokhova. 
For dragging her into their hit job on Flynn, Lokhova, who is a British citizen, sued Halper and the media outlets who published this tale for defamation.

In other words, Flynn was alleged to be having an affair with a Russian agent, and to therefore be compromised. Notice that this happened in the UK--where Halper, a CIA and FBI asset but also a dual US-UK citizen, would not be covered by US laws regarding the targeting of Flynn. It was an "OCONUS lure" or setup of Flynn on foreign soil.

Powell's second document request (chronologically) shows that this was not the only intelligence operation launched against Flynn outside the US--and thus not controlled by our laws:

Powell requested “any information, including recordings or 302s, about Joseph Mifsud’s presence and involvement in engaging or reporting on Mr. Flynn and Mifsud’s presence at the Russia Today dinner in Moscow on December 17, 2015.”
It was at that dinner gathering that Flynn met Vladimir Putin. (A photograph capturing the two at that event has been used to further the Flynn-is-a-Russian-agent narrative.) Powell’s court filing is the first we are learning that Mifsud also attended that gathering—a strange coincidence given the FBI’s claim that it launched its investigation into the Trump campaign upon learning that Mifsud had informed the young Trump advisor George Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Hillary.

Of course Mifsud, a non-US citizen, would not be covered by US laws and could be targeted against Flynn. And so Powell wants to know all about Mifsud.

As justification for designating Flynn as an agent of the Russian government, this stuff is absolutely threadbare. And yet the Mueller Dossier confirms it:

"Relationship with the Russian government"? Please! I'll believe that when I see it.

Now, if Powell knows about all this, who thinks Bill Barr and John Durham are unaware of it all? So, when you read that Barr and Durham went to Rome and listened to a taped deposition of Joseph Mifsud, I think we can assume that Barr is keeping a close eye on the Flynn investigation and sees getting to the bottom of that as very much at the heart of getting to the bottom of the Russia Hoax. We can probably also safely assume that he's quite content for the time being to have Sidney Powell bedevilling Team Mueller.

Now, back to sundance.

Having established that Flynn was the subject of a FCI and a FISA, sundance turns to Susan Rice, Obama’s outgoing National Security Advisor, who in an email to herself memorialized an Oval Office meeting on January 5, 2017. That meeting was attended by Obama, John Brennan, James Comey, Susan Rice, Sally Yates, and Joe Biden (as well as possibly others). Famously, the meeting took place the day before Comey traveled to Trump Tower to bait President-Elect Trump with stories of Trump's supposed Moscow escapades. Trump didn't fall for the bait. Here's Rice's email, and pay attention to the redacted portion:

“On January 5, following a briefing by IC leadership on Russian hacking during the 2016 Presidential election, President Obama had a brief follow-on conversation with FBI Director Jim Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in the Oval Office. Vice President Biden and I were also present. 
President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities “by the book“. 
The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.
From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.” 
[Redacted Classified Section of Unknown length] 
“The President asked Comey to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team. Comey said he would.” 
Susan Rice

Most of the focus with regard to this meeting has been on the Comey - Trump meeting the following day. No doubt this was a strategy planning meeting, and Rice probably left a lot of detail out. However, notice what Obama seems to be saying, in Rice's telling. Obama appears to draw a real distinction.

First of all, the "law enforcement team" should proceed "by the book." Law enforcement team? What law enforcement team, and what is that law enforcement team doing, "by the book"? They can only be investigating someone, or possibly more than just one person. Who is that person? Is it Trump? Certainly the facts surrounding Comey's meeting with Trump--the extraordinary preparation and circumstance both during and after the meeting--point in that direction.

Secondly, "however," Obama seems to say that "from a national security perspective" things will NOT be "by the book." Information sharing will be limited, as regards Russia. Which leads to the question, From whom will Comey's FBI withhold national security information regarding Russia?

Sundance has an answer, and I find it persuasive:

I would suggest the redacted section relates to President Trump being under FBI investigation; and/or incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn being under investigation and FISA surveillance. Hence the issues with “sharing information”.
While Michael Flynn being under active FISC authorized surveillance would indicate there’s no need for unmasking of Flynn, there would be a need for unmasking of everyone else captured within the Flynn surveillance. Hence the dozens of White House unmaskings identified by Devin Nunes in March 2017.

Yes, all those unmaskings of transition officials were probably occasioned by the FISA on National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Sundance raises an interesting point with regard to all this:

The incoming National Security Advisor of President-Elect Donald Trump was under active Title-1 FBI surveillance as granted by the FISA court.  That’s how the FBI intercepted the phone call with Sergey Kislyak and why there’s no unmasking request. 
This doesn’t deal with the propriety of the FISA warrant, or the legal basis, the legal predicate that must exist prior to granting the FISA warrant.  However, accepting that Michael Flynn was under court approved surveillance reconciles all the issues. 
Additionally, this would explain two more issues.  #1) President Obama warning incoming President Trump not to hire Michael Flynn as his Nat. Sec. Advisor; and #2) a very strong possibility that Flynn’s status is the redacted paragraph in the January 20th, 2016, Susan Rice memo.

Presumably, Obama didn't inform Trump that the reason he shouldn't hire Flynn was because the FBI had an open FCI on Flynn, based on their claim that Flynn was an agent of the Russian government. Think about that. The outgoing president supposedly knows that the incoming president is hiring an agent of the Russian government as National Security Advisor--and doesn't tell him? What does that suggest to you?

Two possibilities come to my mind. The first is that this was a bit of ass covering, admittedly clumsy, by Obama--Hey, I told him not to hire Flynn, even if I didn't tell him the (supposedly) real reason! The other possibiity, which seems more likely, is that this performance would be used as a sword against Trump in the event that Trump was removed from office. Which was surely the real topic of that meeting, left unmemorialized by Susan Rice.

I see this as a direct connection between Obama and the Flynn investigation. Obama undoubtedly knew not only the Flynn was under active investigation--he had probably been very much in favor of payback for Flynn's criticisms. Obama also would have known that the FBI had a FISA on Flynn that was being used to monitor virtually the entire National Security section of the Trump administration--naturally including Trump himself. We don't know for fact that Obama discussed the baiting of Trump by Comey, although it's a strong possibility. However, Susan Rice's email to self contains the truth of whether Obama personally discussed Flynn and the withholding of national security information from the new POTUS. Pretty wild.

The question then becomes: What did Obama know, when? One way to find out would be to ask him--under oath. On the other hand, maybe those are questions that should be posed to Obama's underlings first. To Comey, Brennan, Yates, Rice, etc.

Sidney Powell is trying in her own way to uncover these issues. Barr and Durham, on the other hand, have certainly read most of the pertinent parts of the FBI's Flynn file as well as of other targets of the Comey and Mueller witchhunt and the unredacted Susan Rice email. The Dems know this, and are terrified.


  1. I imagine you've read Paul Sperry's piece at RCI from a couple days ago? ( I know this isn't easy to answer, especially until we see the details, but if Horowitz does in fact end up pulling a lot of punches as Sperry argues he did in the previous reports (and argues well, it seems to me), does that make it really hard for Barr/Durham to pick up wherever Horowitz left off and keep going after people -- assuming they feel it's warranted? Put another way, if Horowitz essentially says "mistakes were made" but "everyone was legitimately worried about Russia and so they just got a little too zealous in trying to protect the country," is this the sort of thing they can sort of ignore and so just keep charging ahead, or can this meaningfully constrain them in pursuing things Horowitz has already passed lenient judgment on?

    1. I don't think it does. It's something I've wondered about. Just as DoJ can decline to prosecute on OIG's recommendation, so to they can say, there's more there. Obviously they'd prefer to be on the same page, but ultimately that's up to a jury and OIG's recommendation is irrelevant at a trial.

  2. I guess nothing should surprise me about Obama--but the mind reels at the idea that the outgoing administration was hiding (or proposing to hide) national security information from the incoming administration.

    If the FBI has a FISA surveillance on Flynn (as a suspected agent, etc.), then long before getting to that point they should've held a defensive briefing with Trump on same. That they didn't suggests they weren't interested in protecting national security, but were interested in collecting evidence used to smear Trump, his new administration, and oust him from office. Obama's national security apparatus was used in pursuit of a partisan agenda, not national security.

    1. Yes, the mind reels--except that it doesn't really (pun). Nothing crooked that Dems do surprises anymore.

  3. This is an unfortunate and repeated fate for those those who rely too heavily on Sundance ... running long and hard on a his speculative theories, the underlying basis of which was never properly established/questioned. (See his prior articles on "fake FISAs" being submitted to SSCI as part of a "barium meal leak hunt")

    Sundance bases almost the entirety of his argument about an alleged Flynn FISA on his interpretation of a single text exchange between Strzok/Lisa. For starters, I have a completely different interpretation of the text, which is essentially that Strzok is pissed that a paper-trail of unmaskings exists (it should) AND IS BEING ADMITTED on record. He doesn't want it 'admitted', thats the "wrong narrative", i.e. wrong "story".

    Do we honestly think that Strzok is saying "FUCK!" and upset about Graham's line of questioning because Yates/Clapper are incorrectly talking about unmasking in reference to a FISA? Strzok would be LAUGHING about such off-the-mark questions (as he has elsewhere). The reason he's UPSET is because Graham is asking the RIGHT questions, not the WRONG ones...

    Further, and more to the point, Sundance conveniently overlooks the following:

    1) Ellen Nakashima's article April 11, 2017 breaking the FISA story (w/fed leaks) reported: "Page is the only American to have had his communications directly targeted with a FISA warrant in 2016 as part of the Russia probe, officials said."

    2) Upon the bipartisan request in early March for "any/all warrants/applications on anyone related to Trump campaign" where both sides were equally intent on proving/disproving Trump's claims, the "only docs responsive" were the 2 existent Carter Page applications. See Grassley Memo 03/15/18 p. 2

    3) In Comey Memo on Feb 8, 2017 Priebus asked Comey, "Do you have a FISA order on Mike Flynn?" Comey pauses and says "I will answer this one time, but later you must go thru official channels. Then I answered ______." Even thru redaction, we know the answer must be negative as Comey cannot reveal the FISA to Preibus.

    1. Never say never. Yes, I could be wrong, but your objections aren't as strong as you believe:

      1) Nakashima is relying on leaked information which can be nuanced. A FISA on Flynn could have been obtained separate from "the Russia probe," i.e., Crossfire Hurricane, opened 7/31/16. The investigation of Flynn, as with Manafort, goes back to at least 2014. We also know now that Manafort was previously under a FISA and also subsequently. So, don't rely on Nakashima.

      2) My understanding is that Flynn was not officially part of the Trump campaign in the sense that Carter Page was--didn't have an official position. So narrowly construing the request, no docs would have been provided.

      3) I'm not sure about that.

      Re the Yates/Clapper testimony, the point is not that Strzok is upset about Graham's question. He's not. He's saying quite explicitly that Yates/Clapper are "playing into ... incorrect narrative." So the question is, what's the incorrect narrative. The answer is the one Strzok gives: unmasking for incidental collection. I take it then that Strzok is upset that the incorrect narrative could get them in trouble. Also, Clapper is, to me, quite obviously dancing around Graham's question which could be answered more straightforwardly. Strzok may be wrong, but I wouldn't bet on that--he seems to know his stuff.

    2. What are we not sure about on #3? Preibus asked a yes/no question on a Flynn FISA on Feb 8 and Comey provided a one word answer, redacted. See Comey's memo. What else do you suppose Comey could have answered besides "no"? At minimum Sundance's "theory" must account for some type of answer... a "yes" would be... legally impossible?

      I understand the issues with #1 which is why I offered 3 points evidence, from weakest to strongest. With respect to #2, of course FBI/DOJ could be parsing/hiding but that would be an exceedingly dangerous game given the case was already coming under scrutiny AND they were already admitting to Carter's FISA.

      What basis or motive would FBI/DOJ even have for hiding Flynn's FISA over Carter's and putting themselves at additional risk of even greater later exposure? Especially when (at least in my mind) a Flynn FISA is probably easier justified on Flynn than Carter. How could Trump admin not have found and promoted said lies/obfuscations?

    3. Re #3 I'm not at all sure that it's "legally impossible." Note that Comey--who surely knows the law--doesn't say, Hey, you're not authorized to know that. He says, you should go through channels. That means it's not legally impossible. Also, by Feb. 8, even though Flynn hasn't yet resigned, it's possible that the FBI shut down the FISA for purposes of deniability--nothing about Comey's shady dealing would surprise me.

      At least until Barr came on board, the FBI under Wray has parsed/hid on a pretty much continual basis without apparent fear of coming under scrutiny.

      We've not had official confirmation, but it's been widely reported/claimed that Papadopoulos was the subject of a FISA as an Israeli agent, although that too seems unlikely.

      Finally, while I hesitate to attribute authority to Jackson Lee, the full context should give pause:

      "One thing that all of these persons [Manafort, Papdopoulos, Flynn] had in common was that each was the subject of a FISA Court investigation, which we now know, and all were directly connected to Trump. As attorney general, you had the authority to oversee FISA application process. Is that correct?"

      Lynch replied "yes," after which Justice Department lawyer Bradley Weinsheimer cut in to say Jackson Lee's question "potentially gets into possibly classified information and also equities in an ongoing investigation."

      What followed was a back-and-forth about the "lead-up" to the question about Lynch overseeing the FISA application process that mentioned Papadopoulos, Manafort, and Flynn. Jackson Lee argued that she was only sharing a "statement of facts that are in the public domain."

      Weinsheimer shot back, saying that "just because something is in the public domain does not mean that as the former attorney general, this witness can talk about it, because it could relate to classified information, and it could also affect equities relating to an ongoing investigation."

      So there was no denial.

    4. Link:

    5. I don't think you can conclude that Comey told Priebus the truth if the truth was "yes". As you wrote, Comey couldn't tell Priebus legally, but nothing prevents Comey from lying to him.

    6. "We've not had official confirmation, but it's been widely reported/claimed that Papadopoulos... "

      This is actually THE PROBLEM and subject of an article I'm in the process of writing: there's actually more evidence that FBI was proactively seeding a narrative of *obfuscation* regarding multiple FISA's than fact that there are indeed multiple FISA's. This is also the reason to this DAY that confusion over the number of FISA's still exists. T’was by design...

      The two cases you mention are actually arguments within my article:

      1) It has not been widely 'reported' that Papa was subject to a FISA, its been widely SHOUTED by Papa, and himself only. At his sentencing on 09/07/18, his own attorney stated: “Our firm would in a second stand up if we saw prosecutorial or governmental misconduct. We have seen no such thing… No reason to believe whatsoever there was a FISA warrant involving GP.” If you trace back Papa's alleged basis for said claims, he says NYT/ABC reporters (Specifically Brian Ross) approached him the same day Carter's FISA story was breaking (i.e. red-herring leaks by FBI). Additionally, Papa made not one single claim about being under alleged FISA surveillance until long after his defense attorney had spoken on the matter AND ONLY AFTER he had JUST placed his book online for sale. Make of that timing whatever you will...

      2) Regarding Jackson Lee: I am very familiar with that transcript (read it in research for said FISA article).The reason for attorney jumping in is for the precise reason I describe: he objects to Lee basing their question on a FALSE PREMISE of multiple FISA's! Here are all of the attorney's objections from the transcript (not all in the WashEx article): Notice Jackson Lee says she believes she's merely asking about FACTS IN PUBLIC DOMAIN, but the DOJ attorney objects to the PREMISE of her question... he does not relent until Lee drops multi-person premise.
      Atty: "The preface of your question leads into the final question you asked, and I wouldn't want this witness' answer to be in any way interpreted as agreeing with any part of the preface of the question."

      Nadler: The preface of the question being that as Attorney General, you had the authority to oversee a FISA application, is that --

      Atty: No, the preface of the question was all of the indications about the various people that may or may not be under investigation, okay, the whole lead-up to the question.

      Lee: If I may recite, these were simply statement of facts that are in the public domain. They are in the newspaper about Mr. Page, Mr. Papadopoulos, Mr. Manafort, Mr. Flynn. I can simply ask with the idea of the Attorney General's authority does she have authority over FISA applications. That is a simple question.

      Atty: I have no objection to that question.

      Lee. It refers back to the FISA applications that are in the public domain. The names are in the public domain, not the information of the FISA, but the names are in the public domain, and so the question is if any of those names had been released, would that have hampered any campaign?

      Atty: There has been a public release of one FISA application that relates to Carter Page. If you wanted to ask a specific question about that, I wouldn't have an objection to it, but just because something is in the public domain does not mean that as the former Attorney General, this witness can talk about it, because it could relate to classified information, and it could also affect equities relating to an ongoing investigation.

    7. No, I think you're interpretation of the attorney's objection is wrong. He's not maintaining that the premise is incorrect, he's saying that since that is classified information--whether correct or incorrect--he objects to her question. He's neither confirming nor denying, just objecting to the subject entirely.

    8. Papadopoloous never said their was a FISA warrant on him. He says (in his book) multiple reporters (e.g. Rhonda Schwartz of ABC) told him there was a FISA on him and asked him why, and he says he didn't know why. And he still doesn't know why or if.

  4. I see no clarity in Sperry's piece, about when the IG report on the tarmac mtg. came out, nor any links to any quotes etc.
    If this is the one which came out while Roddy Boy ran things, we may see a very different IG now that Barr is boss.

    1. I hafta agree. I'm not shilling for IGs in general nor for Horowitz. What people tend to forget--or may never have known--is that especially DoJ's IG has limited powers. You really need to look at each case very closely from that perspective. And that means that sometimes all this can be manipulated from the top. No--I'm really not kidding! :-(

    2. Could this IG even pursue Secret Service guys, since they are under, not the DoJ, but the Dept. of Homeland Security?