Monday, November 11, 2019

Drilling Down Into The Flynn 302

The heart of the Flynn case lies in its origins--the claim that there were specific and credible facts to support the belief that Michael Flynn, the former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, was an agent of the Russian intelligence services. As we now know, this claim was never presented to the single person who most needed to be aware of that fact: President Donald J. Trump.

While that is the heart of the Flynn case, at the heart of the prosecutorial misconduct throughout the investigation and prosecution of Flynn is the FBI's FD-302 (302), the report of its interview with Flynn, who had become the National Security Adviser in the new Trump administration. That interview took place on January 24, 2017, under the pretext of a need to discuss Flynn's perfectly reasonable official business--contacts with the Russian ambassador--a transcript of which had been leaked to the Washington Post. The interview was conducted by two FBI officials: Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka. 

This 302 has long been a matter of controversy, due to doubts whether the version that was ultimately provided to Flynn and his lawyers is the original version or may in fact have been edited in a way that misrepresented Flynn's statements in the interview. Those doubts were recently heightened by the admission from the prosecutors that they had misidentified which agents (Strzok and Pientka) wrote which of the two sets of notes that were said to derive from the interview.

I've previously stated my view that the basic trajectory of the Flynn investigation and prosecution ran something like this. 

The FBI, immediately after the interview, initially doubted that they had the false statement case against Flynn that they had hoped to obtain in the course of the interview. We have been told this by disgraced former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was in a position to know. In the event, Flynn was forced to resign because of a conflict with Vice President Pence. However, with the advent of Team Mueller, the Flynn case was resurrected in a new form: Team Mueller decided to seek to coerce Flynn into a guilty plea in order to squeeze from him damaging claims about President Trump. The hope was to get Flynn to plead guilty to a false statement charge, under the claim that he had lied to the FBI.

Over the course of months, Flynn refused to state that he had lied--and Team Mueller never indicted him. However, when Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein agreed to allow Team Mueller to target Flynn's son, Team Mueller confronted Flynn and told him they would indict his son the very next day unless Flynn agreed to plead guilty. Flynn caved.

This tactic had the important effect of limiting Flynn's access to investigative information--including the 302--that might be crucial to his defense. It was something like a Catch 22. As long as Flynn had been indicted but was under investigation, Team Mueller was under no obligation to provide information favorable to the defense (Brady material). However, as part of the plea agreement Flynn agreed to forgo his right to those materials. For reasons that I won't go into here, that has all changed and Flynn's new legal team, led by Sidney Powell, is demanding access to a very wide range of information--including all documentation regarding the now famous 302.

On October 31, 2019, Undercover Huber published a long analysis of the 302. It's an excellent analysis and raises several important points. What follows is a fairly detailed review of that analysis, with additional comments.

Huber's starting point is actually a point of departure--Strzok's departure in disgrace from Team Mueller. In connection with that departure Strzok was interviewed about his participation in Team Mueller investigative activity, including the Flynn case:

"On 07/19/17 Strzok was interviewed by a Senior Assistant Special Counsel & an FBI Supervisory Special Agent.
"This was Strzok's "exit" interview after he'd been forced to leave the Special Counsel due to discovery of his biased text messages.
"It's a felony to lie in this interview."

In that interview Strzok stated that Joe Pientka was "primarily responsible for taking notes and writing the FD-302" summary of the Flynn interview.

As Undercover Huber points out, Strzok was almost certainly lying. Why does Huber think so, and why do I think there could be a reason why Strzok would lie? Lets consider those two questions each in turn.

When FBI agents conduct an interview in a criminal investigation--typically a pair of agents--the agent in charge of the investigation normally does most of the talking and is responsible for writing the 302 summary of the interview. Both agents may take notes but, since the "lead" interviewing agent may be too occupied with the back and forth of the interview to take detailed notes, he may rely on the other agent to do so and may write his own notes immediately afterward. The point of this is simple. The value of interview notes is as a contemporaneous record of what was said in the interview. A delay in note taking transforms that dynamic entirely--"notes" written days later are not notes in that sense but are quite simply later recollections, subject to all the vagaries of human memory. More properly, they really amount to a rough draft of the projected 302. I have stated that I believe that of the two sets of notes the FBI claims were taken at the interview, in fact the more detailed (and neatly written) notes were in fact a rough draft of the 302. I believe Undercover Huber's analysis supports that contention.

Another very important fact to bear in mind in this regard is this: The Five Day Rule you may have heard of--an internal FBI rule--means that the final 302 write up is to be completed within five days. That does not refer to the "final notes," as some have mistakenly stated. It refers to the final interview write-up--the completed 302. The notes, to be of value as notes, must be contemporaneous with the interview itself, and the purpose of the Five Day Rule is to enhance the claim the FBI makes for the reliability of its reports by ensuring that the final 302 is completed within a few days of the interview and note taking. It should go without saying that, once completed, the 302 must not be altered.

A good example of this in practice can be obtained from the accounts we have of the conversation that disgraced former FBI Director James Comey had with then President-elect Trump at Trump Tower on January 7, 2017. Comey was attempting to elicit damaging statements from Trump, and to do so he presented salacious details of the so-called Steele "dossier". Comey claimed to be concerned that those details would soon become widely known, which of course happened, thanks to a premeditated leak. The hope was that by raising this topic Trump would make statements that could be used against him.

Obviously, in a situation of this sort, Comey was not in a position to take notes--that would have given the game away. But what he could do, and did do, is this: Comey and the FBI ensured that an FBI vehicle was waiting right outside Trump Tower, with a laptop on which Trump could type up notes of his conversation with Trump within minutes of its conclusion. Then, if called later to testify, Comey would be in a position to maintain that he was providing a true and accurate account of the conversation, as confirmed by his contemporaneous notes.

So, back to Strzok.

As we saw, Strzok stated in the interview conducted upon his dismissal for cause from Team Mueller that Joe Pientka was "primarily responsible for taking notes and writing the FD-302" summary of the Flynn interview. However, he also said that he, Strzok, "conducted the interview".

Now, every FBI agent knows that it's overwhelmingly likely that the agent who conducts the interview will be the agent who writes up the interview. The reason is that the note taker, preoccupied with writing, will be less likely to be fully involved with the subject of the interview. He may miss a nuance in voice or expression, or fail to fully appreciate the meaning in context, in his hurry to transcribe the words.

The new information about the notes, referred to above, leads Undercover Huber to assert:

"Newly available evidence strongly suggests Strzok did lie: it was *Strzok* himself who wrote the 302, & largely from his own notes, NOT Pientka's."

At this point, we need to keep firmly in mind the interesting fact that the FBI openly admits that they broke their Five Day Rule, and they did so in an exceptionally important case. The National Security Adviser a Russian agent? How much more important a case could there be? Here is what happened:

"The earliest 302 DOJ has provided is from 02/10/17. The Flynn interview was on 01/24/17 (17 days earlier). So it is highly likely there are earlier drafts, but on Oct 29 DOJ (Brandon Van Grack; a former Senior Assistant Special Counsel) denied DOJ is "hiding" an "original 302."

Let's note a few things. First, the 302 wasn't just a few days late--I assure you that a 17 day delay was outrageously late. A delay of that sort destroys the presumption of unbiased accuracy based on relative contemporaneity with the interview itself and the notes. Again, the reason for this is common sense: notes can themselves become a matter of interpretation, even for the note taker, after a few days have passed--we will see that Pientka raises concerns that reflect that reality. But what if ...

What if the FBI wasn't being honest about flagrantly breaking its own rules? What if there really was a 302 that was written up in timely fashion--whether by Strzok or by Pientka. That, to me, is the more likely scenario, simply because this interview was far too important for such laxity, as the example of Comey's write-ups of his conversations with Trump show. If this is the case, then the FBI and Team Mueller have a very big problem, because then misconduct will have crossed a bright red line into the realm of criminality.

The first step in resolving this may well be in determining which of the two, Strzok or Pientka, wrote the 302 that we have access to. Here there's really no substitute for perusing Huber's analysis first hand, but I'll try to summarize.

What Huber does is place the draft 302--we're referring, of course, to the one dated 2/10/17--next to the two sets of notes. By doing so, he's able to show that Strzok's very detailed "notes" follow the overall outline of Pientka's sketchier notes in terms of the order of topics discussed, but with added details. However, he is also able to show that the wording of the 302 follows the wording of Strzok's "notes" rather than the wording of Pientka's notes. Further, on the draft, Pientka twice specifically notes that he doesn't remember something that Strzok has inserted. Clearly, as we've maintained all along, Strzok was in charge. Here's how Huber puts it:

—The 302 systematically & overwhelmingly (30+ examples) contains words & phrases ONLY noted by Strzok & NOT by Pientka
—Crucially this includes two where Pientka explicitly comments that he "couldn't remember" Flynn saying this & "[I] dont...have in my notes" 

Pientka's "can't remember that" comments are very important. Remember, this was likely the most important interview either of these agents had ever conducted. Pientka wasn't merely along for the ride, as a passive witness. He would have been keyed up for the interview. The two agents would undoubtedly have discussed the interview themselves and again when they got back to FBIHQ with all those officials who had participated in the planning of the interview over a two day period. Therefore, for Pientka to basically challenge Strzok's version, that's significant. And it's also a clear indication that Strzok is in charge of writing the 302--as we posited. 

Their well known conclusion at the time was that Flynn was being truthful, and that leads to this bit of speculation. Is it possible that, having initially decided that there probably was no case, Strzok told Pientka: Look, you write it up. Andy McCabe's got me working on other things. Then, when it was suggested (by McCabe?) that maybe the 302 could be tweaked a bit after all, Strzok took control again--which he certainly was when the known draft was produced. Here are the text exchanges between Strzok and Lisa Page (McCabe's lawyer, who also got involved in shaping the final 302), which show that Strzok was in charge, not Pientka--Pientka was reviewing what was primarily Strzok's work at that point:

And here's one last anomaly that's worth noting. Normally, the "lead" agent in an interview is, as I've said, the agent who also writes up the 302. And that means that normally his name goes first, both at the top of the report, and also at the bottom of the 302 form. That bottom part of the form is generated first through a macro, then the writer is, as it were, dumped out of the macro to write the report. Here's the anomaly. If you look at the 302 for this interview (p. 2 of the linked pdf), you'll see that at the top--where the actual report begins--the names appear in this order: 1) Strzok, 2) Pientka (redacted). But at the bottom, in the portion generated by the macro, they're reversed: 1) Pientka (redacted), 2) Strzok. That's strange, and it makes me wonder whether the 302 was diddled with. From my own viewpoint, that tends to suggest to me that Pientka wrote the 302--but we know that the one we've seen was almost certainly predominantly the work of Strzok. Could the body have been edited, but case management software wouldn't allow a change to the part that was generated by the macro? Someone who knows more about digital tracking will have to figure that out, but that's an anomaly that, in my opinion, demands investigation and an answer. Because that's just not the way things are done in the FBI. 

Whether this speculation is accurate or not, it's easy to see why Powell wants to see the full digital record of documents relating to that interview. Team Mueller claims they don't have any "original" 302 but, as Powell maintains, what they may have in their own physical possession isn't the whole story--the FBI should be able to recover all such records from their case management system. There are far too many questions at this point to take Team Mueller's word for it.

It seems clear at this point that Strzok lied when he claimed in his exit interview from Team Mueller that Pientka wrote the 302. It may have been true that Pientka wrote the "original" 302, but there's no real doubt that the 302 that emerged from the shaping process was substantially Strzok's work--with assists from Lisa Page and possibly others. Why, then, did Strzok lie about this on 7/19/17 in his exit interview?

My view is this. Strzok was leaving Team Mueller in disgrace, his outrageous bias against Trump and other misconduct revealed and documented. That bias and misconduct would constitute Brady/Giglio material and would, of course, bleed over into the Flynn case that Team Mueller had revived. At that early date Team Mueller couldn't be sure that the interviewing agent might not have to testify. If circumstances arose in which they were forced to reveal that Strzok had all these black marks against his name, all of them related to the case in hand, Strzok's presence and his past could ruin the case.

Pientka, on the other hand, had--as far as we know--a clean record. Why not attribute the Flynn 302 to Pientka? In that way Strzok's problems would never arise. And, after all, maybe attribution of authorship is ... a matter of interpretation?

As things developed, Team Mueller's prosecutors finessed it by delaying indictment and then coercing a plea deal in which revelation of these matters was precluded. Until Judge Sullivan took over the case.

And now Team Mueller, in the person of Brandon van Grack, has been backed into a corner, desperately trying to reposition.


  1. "Pientka, on the other hand, had--as far as we know--a clean record. Why not attribute the Flynn 302 to Pientka? In that way Strzok's problems would never arise. And, after all, maybe attribution of authorship is ... a matter of interpretation?"

    If this speculation is accurate... it's an amazing example of yet another hubristic double-down in the face of actual discover/challenge. Incredible.

    Everything else checks-out (i.e. is fact)

    1. It's not dissimilar to what we see going on with Schiff's Impeachment Theater--blowing up in face.

  2. Excellent. Now I understand the public evidence of 302 falsification.
    But - Durham certainly has searched the FBI computer systems for the entire case history and any hidden evidence of 302 shenanigans, right? So Durham knows what we're only guessing at, right? Durham couldn't have been blocked from doing a forensic analysis of the FBI systems touched by Strzock/McCabe/Page/Pientka/etc, right? Either Durham found the original 302's, or he found evidence of their destruction, or he exposed extraordinary measures having been taken to evade the documentation systems. (Oh, those computers? They were all wiped and destroyed in 2017. Sorry, Mr Durham!)

    Seems like the FBI people's only hope is to beg for leniency from Durham. I don't see any jury of adults tolerating the FBI behavior (that Sidney Powell has exposed)

    1. That's right. You can bet that Horowitz, Durham, Barr know a ton. I believe they'll be building a case against Team Mueller and they're allowing van Brack to twist in the wind for a while.

      Remember all the stories that Horowitz had been interviewing Pientka? And where is Pientka these days. As I said recently, he seems to have done a Mifsud.

      Recall, too, that Barr intervened on behalf of Manafort when they tried to drag him to solitary in NY?

    2. Barr are smart to let the Flynn Entrapment corruption bubble up independently. It takes a large amount of wind out of the "political retribution" sail of the Democrats. Their turn at bat will come in due rotation.
      Tom S.

    3. I believe that's how they're working this. I'll be posting re the remarks of Chaffetz and Biggs on Hannity. They emphasize that the scope had to be continually enlarged. Rather than jumping into the middle of a prosecution, which would entail involvement with a separate branch of government as well as with other presidential appointees (USA in DC) sometimes it's best to let things develop when you know they're on a track in one direction. Hard on the people caught up in the first place, like Flynn.

  3. You theory about why Strzok might have lied is pretty damned sound. Like I wrote in a thread several days back- time to for Sullivan to order Pientka to appear and answer questions, and Strzok, too.

    1. Yes. It's fine for Barr to bide his time while jamming people up on the origins, but a judge does have a separate obligation to defend justice--he does represent a separate branch.

  4. This is the best article of yours that I have read.


    I wonder what Comey expected that Trump might say that would be incriminating.

    Likewise, I wonder what Strzok expected that Flynn might say that would be incriminating.

    I name Comey and Strzok, but I mean all the FBI bigwigs who were involved in planning and analyzing those two interviews.

    Were there some expectations that Trump or Flynn might reveal accidentally they were working secretly for Russian Intelligence?

    I have commented before that one problem seems to be that nobody in the DOJ/FBI leadership dared to laugh out loud during their discussions.


    FBI Director Wray will try to remedy this situation merely by scheduling more ethics classes.

    Instead, though, Wray should require that all future FBI interviews be video-taped.

    1. Tx Mike. I think they were knowingly looking for anything they could twist.

    2. I think they were knowingly looking for anything they could twist.

      They were trying to ruin the lives of other people, who were innocent and extraordinarily successful.

      Therefore, they should not expect any mercy for themselves now.

    3. The Democrat Party/Deep State seem to have found their true calling: With the Obama foreign policy they rehabilitated Jimmy Carter's rep as the worst President in history and, with this dog-and-pony show, they seem determined to rehabilitate Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria's rep as the most corrupt investigator ever. They are apparent masters if rehabilitating reputations. Maybe they'll do Winnie Mandela next; oh, wait, they already ran Hillary, my mistake.
      Tom S.

    4. How the hell could the "justice" system have ever
      not required, that all FBI interviews be video-taped?
      How could 302s have ever been usable, to obtain guilty verdicts?

    5. aNanyMouse, it's not necessarily that easy--not all interviews are the same, under controlled circumstances. Here are two links. The first gives the FBI position as of 2006:

      The second is vehemently, and knowledgeably, opposed to that, and also explains both the nature of 302s and how they can be used as a weapon by prosecutors in ways that were not intended.

      In my own experience I was never aware of the misuse we're seeing now, but there's no doubt that there is need for more guidance. The FBI position memo does acknowledge that, but ... not much seems to have changed.

    6. One factor I can immediately see against video of interviews is that the second people see that little red light go on they change. They play to the camera, they clam up, whatever. Different people react differently but you don't get anything like natural reactivity, all because of that itty-bitty red light. Had this demonstrated once in a classroom. Even though the instructor told the subjects that nothing was being recorded the second the red light came on obvious change. If the agents want to introduce tension in an interview they want to somewhat control it, not the wild-card effect a camera brings out.
      Of course that's just a take off the top from the cheap seats:-)
      Tom S.

  5. Thanx much for your detailed response.
    A glance at the FBI memo link shows zip, about courts' threats to disallow cases using 302s against the interviewee.
    Unless I missed something there, I'm still stunned that courts wouldn't stop such use, ESP. as weapons vs. the subjects of the interviews, who AREN’T already in federal custody.
    E. Warren gave us Miranda and Brady, but got bulldozed on 302s, by J. Edgar?

  6. I read the 2006 FBI policy memo and frankly, to me (and with all due respect to Mark and other present and past members of the law enforcement community), it doesn't cut it.

    My wife and I are big fans of so-called Nordic Noir television crime shows. We've watched hundreds of episodes since the mid-2000s. We started out with Danish and Swedish shows (think Wallender and The Bridge...and the Steig Larsson trilogy of books) and have branched out since then to include Norwegian, Icelandic, Finnish, Irish, English, German, French and Dutch shows.

    I don't know what the relevant laws precisely are in Europe (and perhaps there is a difference between interviewing a witness and interviewing a witness who is a suspect), but not once, not ever, have I seen a cop interrogate a suspect without bringing him into the station, offering him the opportunity to be represented, and recording the interview. Not once ever.

    For pretty obvious reasons.

    The advantage which the government has in a prosecution to 'recharacterize' any interview is enormous. It is and always has been.

    I hate to say it but in many respects our nearly 'religious' belief in our American exceptionalism is quite simply delusional...

    As if the FBI's mishandling of the Flynn 302s doesn't once and for all make the case.

    1. I would caution against mistaking TV for reality. What's portrayed in those shows doesn't translate well to our gang and drug ridden environments. And, in fact, most of those shows don't portray the reality of immigrant based crime in Europe, where crimes simply don't get solved, just as in our inner cities. In the shows the crimes all get solved. I would also point out that even in those less than reality based shows witnesses and suspects are simply grabbed and brought to the police station or ordered to show up where, even with a lawyer present, they always answer the questions presented to them and can be held for lengthy amounts of time, while the "good guys" who record the interviews are scurrying around collecting more evidence or browbeating more witnesses till they get it right. Suspects and witnesses seem to have more rights in the US.

    2. Not sure, Mark. My impression is that the FBI lags behind the rest of the civilized world in recording interviews. The reason I mention the tv shows is because it appears recording is simply SOP.

      If I can find some time, I'll look into it further.

    3. "The reason I mention the tv shows is because it appears recording is simply SOP."

      The reason I mention reality is because it's more complicated than TV. I'm not saying people should reflexively trust the FBI, nor that custodial interviews should not be recorded, nor that courts are right to trust LE implicitly--simply that the reality of law enforcement work isn't as simple as portrayed.

    4. I appreciate and respect your point of view. Obviously law enforcement is complex and nuanced. I'm no criminal lawyer and my reaction is from 50,000 feet.

      Lets forget tv -- its a distraction and I probably should have not mentioned it. It just seems -- to me --that the advantages of recording far outweigh law enforcement notes. Certainly from the perspective of a defendant and a defense attorney. The Flynn case seems to prove this. The article you posted makes this point.

      Here's an article reviewing the subject of recording and its interrelationship with other criminal defense rights in various EU jurisdictions and the US.

      Here's another link which, to your point, underscores the shortcomings of criminal defendant's rights in Europe.

      It may or may not be that European defendants have more rights than US defendants. But in the context of wrongdoing in the Flynn case its hard not to worry that our approach to recording needs some upgrading.

    5. Of course in the Flynn case the FBI-or its Top Echelon (that's an inside joke)--conspired to deprive Flynn of his rights. And I readily grant that it would not have happened if videos of interviews were required. Nevertheless, that was an appointment, and by far not all interviews happen that way.

      Here's a counter proposal. If the FBI starts recording all interviews, why not have defense lawyers record all interaction with their clients? Then each side can swap recordings. Or record all interactions between judges and lawyers. Than might be another interesting one. Or live streaming from classrooms or workplaces or ...

      My point is that there are more issues involved here than most might suspect.

      Complete transparency. Then the world would work the way it should. Or maybe not.

    6. Also, I recently read an article that says studies show that body cams are revealing far more bad behavior by citizens than by the police. I'm not saying that body cams are a bad idea, but maybe not everyone should have to wear one, which is the logical extension of all this. We need to recognize the real issues--all of them.

    7. Big picture, another of the shortcomings, I think, of the exceptional nation in the year 2019 is that we seem incapable as a a body politic... of addressing the 'real issues' to resolve our problems...kinda across the board...

    8. From my standpoint, the real problem in the Flynn case and in most of these high profile political cases is 1001 False statements. I've long considered it a wicked law, and Scalia's interpretation of it to be wicked as well. Just as people make false confessions all the time, so too they make false statements all the time--often times for no apparent reason. To make a gotcha moment into a crime is simply wicked. Instead of the stupid Impeachment Theater the Congress should be fixing that injustice.

    9. No sh*t!
      How could SCOTUS have ruled on Miranda as they did, but not require the FBI to inform guys like Flynn, that they can be charged for "lying", in what he may well have presumed to be a non-actionable conversation?

  7. While you've penned too many dandies for me to single out just one as the best, I completely agree with Mike's sentiment that this one's another real winner. Super useful in seeing one important way the deep state sausage gets made, especially how subtle and tricky the methods can be and how their ultimate success depends absolutely on keeping the sunlight out and the omerta in - at least long enough till the damage is done.

    Anyway, I’d read Undercover Huber's analysis when it first hit, and got a lot out of it, but your take on it here really brings it all home for me. If anyone who hasn't read the Huber analysis follows the link above and does read it, and then comes back to read this piece again, I think things will fall into place even better. At least that's how it worked for me.

    1. Tx Brad. I can tell you I spent a lot of time thinking about this, and a lot of time typing.

    2. Ha! Is it that obvious? (lol lol lol)

  8. OK, so I read the fairtrials link. There we find that the Irish Supreme Ct. says if the interview is recorded you have no right to a lawyer. And yet elsewhere in the article we learn that lots of people provide false confessions--just because! No particular reason. That's reality, and it's messy: “mentally capable adults provide false confessions all the time”.

    Also, it's clear that they're mostly dealing with custodial interviews, which Flynn's was not. While the FBI personnel who were involved should all be put away, what are we to say about the courts tolerating prosecutorial misconduct? I would maintain, just off the top of my head, that a lot of miscarriage of justice would never happen without prosecutorial involvement--as has been confirmed by numerous studies involving DNA overturning convictions.

    1. As you say...there are many issues involved. And yes, custodial interviews may be quite different than evidence developed in the field.

      Doesn't evidence of citizen misconduct tend to justify body cams? Just wondering...

      And one of the reasons I might argue against full reciprocity of recordings is that courts have recognized repeatedly in the past that the awesome power of the government must be balanced against individual rights and vulnerabilities...hence Miranda and 'fruit of the poisonous tree'. I could posit a system of justice where a failure to warn or the use of illegally obtained evidence would not justify dismissal (in England illegally obtained evidence is admissable [R v Leathem]). In our (exceptional) system the power of the government is subject in some respects to the rights of defendants and the interests of justice...rightfully so, I think...

      But I am way out of my depth here and still mostly venting over the Top Echelon's misconduct vis a vis General Flynn...they didn't even follow FBI's procedures regarding 302s...

    2. Our "system of justice" traditionally doesn't attempt to root out all injustice or crime or sin because that would endanger the rest of normal human life. Aquinas understood that, but liberals don't. They want to systematize all of human life--and that ends up inevitably being anti-human.

      For an explanation of Top Echelon, which I use metaphorically, follow this link and search Top Echelon:

  9. I add my comments that to Mike, Brand and the others this is one of your best posts. Your experience as an agent and willingness to share is a real benefit to us non-LEO types.

    A question that I have pondered is about Pientka. Is he an innocent subordinate, a Deep Stater, conflicted, someone who maybe blew the whistle?

    Do you have any thoughts based upon your experience as an agent?

    1. Forgive the atrocious typing. I add my comments to those of Mike, Brad and the others that this is one of your best posts.

    2. Joe, the only reason I started blogging about the Russia Hoax was precisely because of my past experience and because I didn't see anyone else with similar experience talking about it. It seemed to me at the time that that perspective could be helpful and was needed.

      Re Pientka, I have nothing to offer from experience. He's a bit of a mystery guy, who has disappeared from view. We know he's been interviewed by OIG and so, presumably, also by Durham. It appears from my recollection that, while at one point Team Mueller substituted him for Strzok in the Flynn case, at a certain point it became clear they wanted to keep Pientka out of that case, too.

      His other notable involvement had to do with Bruce Ohr--he was Ohr's contact for transmitting Steele "info." All of that stopped at some point, probably in the summer, 2017.

      My guess is that Pientka became a cooperator probably at the same time as Ohr, although that's only a guess. It's interesting to me that the House GOP never called him as a witness, that we know of. There's no question that he would be a very relevant witness given his Ohr contacts, but that he's being kept secluded from all but investigators.

      The only conclusion I can offer, and it's speculative, is that he has a lot more info and so is being kept out of view. My recollection is that during the campaign period his official position was as some sort of liaison with DoJ. That and his relationship with Ohr could point to more knowledge than previously supposed.

      Here's an older but still informative piece by Sara Carter: Why Is The FBI Muzzling The Only Person With Credibility Left in The Flynn Investigation: FBI SSA Joe Pientka III.

    3. I speak for a lot of us who are grateful that you do share your experience.

      We know a lot at this point but there is no much more that we don't know. That's why I'm so thankful for the internet.

      And I love the way the old media hates the new media. They have good reason to, too. New media exposes them for the hacks that they are. (Not all, of course, but many of the "pretty faces.")

  10. In thinking about the comments before mine regarding recording or not recording, it seems to me that a suspect should always have a lawyer present. I know that suspects are Mirandized, but, isn't there pressure by the cops to talk without a lawyer, including sleep deprivation?

    I've never been arrested in my life so I have no experience upon which to draw. These dirty cops appear to me to be far worse than anyone they came into contact, including Manafort. I don't defend his behavior but it's clear that he was a means to an end.


    1. No, suspects aren't necessarily Mirandized at all. The only people Mirandized are arrestees or suspects in some sort of custody, i.e., people who aren't free to leave.

    2. Does General Flynn fall into this category of a suspect who wasn't Mirandized? I know that he was being trapped, but the FBI came in, by their own admission, to take advantage of a new administration that wasn't as organized around procedures and was vulnerable to Comey's unconventional and unethical ploy re Flynn.

    3. Yes. He wasn't in custody of any sort. It was a strictly voluntary interview. In CI work that's overwhelmingly the norm. Victoria Toensing stated that on Lou Dobbs not long ago--in CI work what you're almost always looking for is cooperation, not to prosecute anyone. It's about information.

    4. Joe - You might want to check out these two Youtubes. about 20 minutes each.

      Never talk to the cops: Part 1

      Never talk to the cops: Part 2

      Found this through a 2nd amendment site but they are one lecture from a Law class, as near as I can tell, and covers the subject in general.

      Really hammers home the point that the system serves it's own purposes which may or may not bear any relation to fair play or reasonableness for those caught up in it. Basically meat grinders are designed to grind meat and it (the system) really doesn't care if it's chewing flank steak or filet. The interviewers are not there because of your sparkling conversational style, though they'll be glad to let you dazzle them with your wit and probably be happy to walk away with you thinking you were just way smarter than they were. Shut up and get a lawyer. There's no such thing as an "innocent" admission.
      I was pretty amazed that Flynn, supposedly an Intelligence expert, would be so gullible.
      Tom S.

  11. Tom,

    Thank you for these links. I will check them out. I am by no means a liberal. Nor am I a member of the ACLU. But I do respect that the ACLU does call foul in thearea of citizen/LEO intersection.

    The ACLU is terrible on religion, abortion, guns and others things, I must add, to keep my conservative street credibility.

    1. The two together are 2 halves of a college lecture. The first half is police interview from a defense attorney's viewpoint and the second half is a police detectives veiwpoint. The whole thing is pretty interesting and I recommend it as food for thought for anyone carrying concealed.
      Tom S.