Defenders of the FBI's Thuggish Tactics Compare Michael Flynn to a Terrorist and a Drug Lord

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Even by the normal melodrama standards established during the Trump Administration, yesterday was a standout. Beginning in the afternoon, there were hints that developments were imminent in the Michael Flynn case. What started out as ‘sources said’ quickly snowballed into a release of largely un-redacted documents, mostly handwritten notes by Bill Priestap, outlining a strategy to use an interview with Flynn by FBI agents to create a crime to either charge him with or a pretense that would warrant his dismissal from the administration.

My colleagues have covered the sturm und drang here:

Stunning: Newly Released Handwritten FBI Notes Show January 2017 Flynn Interview Was a Set-Up

Former Fed Prosecutor Andrew McCarthy Blasts FBI Over New Revelations About Flynn: ‘Meticulously Planned Out Scheme’

Justice for General Flynn: A Seminal Moment in the War Against the Deep State

Devastating Video Exposes Comey Admitting He Was Behind Agents’ Effort Against Flynn

Following the Release of Proof He Was Set Up, Flynn Sends a Tweet That Should Humble Us All

These are the key parts

By any standard, one would think it egregious for a law enforcement agency to target a senior official in an incoming presidential administration for a political hit. As National Review’s Andy McCarthy said last night, the documents show that the FBI had literally zero predication of a criminal act but went into the interview with the express purpose of taking Flynn out.

By this morning, though, the defenders of Gestapo tactics had come up with a explanation which, if you are particularly stupid, might even sound reasonable. First up we have Benjamin Wittes of the Qatar underwritten LawFareBlog. During the Russia Hoax, Wittes became known as the Michael Avenatti of the Mueller investigation posting inane items of Twitter with the exclamation “BOOM!” to the applause of the slobbering clapping seals that comprise his fans.

Better than Basta! I guess.

And this guy who has predicted 15 or so of the last zero times Trump was about to be removed from office and indicted:

This is a longer form of the coordinated defense of egregious misbehavior

On the contrary, these tactics by the FBI, especially in 18 U.S. Code § 1001 (false statements) cases, are quite common. They also invariably said that this will more than likely not affect the outcome of the Flynn case.

Political investigations and impeachment lawyer Ross Garber, who has handled many cases of this kind, said that even people who haven’t committed crimes should be “incredibly wary” of “any” interview with law enforcement.

“There may be more information that emerges, but standing alone, the email exchange is unlikely to change anything,” Garber said. I’ve handled a lot of 1001 cases, and in many instances prosecutors and agents are well aware of, and even seek to maximize the use of, the leverage they get when a person being interviewed says something that’s not entirely accurate.”

“It’s a reason why anyone, even someone who has committed no crime, should be incredibly wary of any interview with law enforcement officials and consult with qualified counsel in advance,” he added.

Mark Zaid, the national security lawyer who was on the Ukraine whistleblower’s legal team, said that the FBI notes showed routine FBI interview tactics.

“The so-called ‘bombshell’ that is being touted as exonerating former General Flynn appears to be nothing more than selective documents disclosed by an aggressive defense counsel and then promoted by a supportive reporter,” Zaid said. “The FBI notes reveal consideration of routine law enforcement interview tactics and by no means undercut General Flynn’s prior admissions of lying to the FBI–a felony–and accepting full responsibility for his actions.”

National security lawyer Bradley P. Moss, a partner at Zaid’s firm, said that the FBI’s tactics were “largely consistent” with what’s been going on for the last five decades.

“These tactics, while maybe unseemly to the public, are largely consistent with the very type of deceptive interrogation techniques law enforcement has been permitted to use for at least 50 years,” he said. “This isn’t a legal bombshell that is likely to save Flynn in court: it’s simply more political fodder to justify the imminent pardon from the president.”

What is unsurprising is that the very folks yelling “nothing to see here” are the very ones who lead the way in pushing the Russia Hoax and explaining to us how indicting George Papadopoulos was part of some big-brained genius master plan to get him to ‘flip’ on President Trump, or how the indictment of imaginary Russian companies and equally imaginary Russians was going to be Trump’s downfall (they’ve never commented on the dismissal of that case).

This is how Jonathan Turley sees it:

Despite the rationalizations of media experts, this is one of the most thuggish records I have seen as a criminal defense attorney. This was not an effort to investigate a crime, it was an effort to create a crime. Flynn had not committed any crime in meeting with the Russian and the Logan Act is universally denounced as unenforceable and unconstitutional. So these top Justice officials were planning to create a crime for which Flynn might be prosecuted solely out of the desire to prosecute him or force him out of office.

What the excuse making overlooks is that this was not an investigation into a crime. This was an attempt by the dead-enders loyal to an outgoing administration and a defeated candidate attempting to turn US politics into a blood sport such as you’d find in Third World nations where political operatives use the legal system to actually execute and imprison their opponents. There is no doubt that the scam that was pulled on Flynn was similar in nature to the scam Comey ran on Trump by briefing him on the ‘dossier.’ No matter what you think of Flynn, comparing him to a terrorist or a drug lord is unconsionable. It has no place in our discourse.