Earlier this week, DOJ released a letter sent to Sidney Powell, attorney for General Michael Flynn, which accompanied additional pages of investigative materials related to the investigation of Gen. Flynn. Those materials were initially subject to a Protective Order, in place so they could not be released publicly without permission from the Court. Earlier today, those materials, with some limited redactions, were released.
These materials include handwritten notes of Deputy Assistant Attorney General Tashina Gauhar taken during a meeting on January 25, 2017, the day after FBI Agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka interviewed Gen. Flynn in his White House Office. In her notes, she described the meeting as a “read out” by the FBI on the interview.
According to statements made by then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord, this meeting followed the unilateral decision by FBI Dir. Comey to interview Gen. Flynn over the objections of senior DOJ officials, who were not made aware that the interview was going to happen until after Comey had already dispatched Strzok and Pientka to the White House.
Tashina Gauhar worked directly for Mary McCord, who was AAG of the National Security Division of DOJ at the time. The National Security Division has 3-4 “Sections” within it which are responsible for different areas of work. Gauhar oversaw one of those sections. McCord would report directly to the Deputy Attorney General, who was Yates, but she was at the same time serving as Acting Attorney General following the resignation of Loretta Lynch. The notes indicate several other persons from DOJ attended the meeting, including Yates’ top deputy — but not Yates herself. Gauhar had previously worked for Sally Yates as an Assistant Deputy Attorney General before moving to the National Security Division to run the “Office of Intelligence” Section — the office responsible for all FISA work.
Gauhar is the “Forrest Gump” of DOJ, having also been assigned to work on “Mid-Year Exam”, the investigation into the Hillary Clinton “home server” matter, as well as being tasked with helping to analyze the contents of Anthony Weiner’s laptop when it was seized as part of a search into his criminal conduct.
Gauhar’s notes are generally consistent with the point of view that has slowly emerged over the past year with regard to Strzok and Pientka’s “impressions” of the interview with Gen. Flynn, namely their view that Gen. Flynn was being forthright in his answers, that while some were inaccurate or contradicted by the recordings they had, the agents did not believe he was being intentionally deceptive in his responses. In my view, this is a critical admission not for what might seem to be the obvious — they didn’t think he was misleading them — but it reinforces my belief that it was the Mueller prosecutors in the SCO who came along later and decided they needed to force Gen. Flynn to cooperate in their efforts to uncover Russian collusion, and Gen. Flynn’s interview responses were a source of leverage they thought they could use to do that. These notes further confirm that prior to Mueller’s appointment, there wasn’t real interest in DOJ or the FBI to push for an investigation/prosecution of Gen. Flynn.
But they also confirm that the top officials at DOJ were kept “out of the loop” by Comey and McCabe about what they were engineering with regard to Gen. Flynn because among the first questions asked by Gauhar and others were the FBI “Gameplan going in” and “Timing – why yesterday”.
Among the interesting comments written by Gauhar as the interview is being described by her:
Opened P.I. [Preliminary Investigation] started last summer.
As summer progressed had not seen things to point to initial issue.
Nov -> looking to close F [Flynn] as agent.
Decision to interview. Asked to interview — w/couple agents to talk about news.
F. did not ask for any parameters.
Gameplan going in
*Goal: use to determine if clandestine or agency relationships to inform that understanding. Ask and see what he would say about them [Russians]. Try to “jog” his memory. Get a sense -> being forthright.
Timing – why yesterday? B/c of what was in the press, discussion by administration [Spicer and VP Pence].
Later in the notes, Gauhar writes about the issue of the UN vote on the Egyptian resolution regarding Israel. Her notes say the FBI “assessment” of his answers was that they were false and inaccurate — based on the transcript they had — “But believe that Flynn believes that what he said was true.”
That is an “innocent mis-recollection”, not a statement that is willfully false. That makes the SC’s pursuit of that statement as a “false statement” reek of bad faith. They knew that their own agents would have to testify in a trial that at the time they interviewed Flynn, they believed his answer was an innocent mis-recollection, which would not be a crime.
After the handwritten notes, there are pages from a typed memorandum summary. There are also some notes for Dana Boente. I’ll update this story through the course of the day as I make my way through the remainder of the information, and connect it to other parts of the investigation that have been uncovered.