by WorldTribune Staff, February 4, 2020
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s FISA wiretap abuse is providing new fuel for Michael Flynn’s defense team as it seeks dismissal of all charges against the former Trump administration national security adviser.
“The IG Report is a scathing indictment of the conduct of the leadership and small group in the FBI that ran this operation against Mr. Flynn,” Sidney Powell, Flynn’s attorney, noted in a court filing. “The IG Report reveals information that is exculpatory material, and favorable to the defense, which the government did not previously disclose to Mr. Flynn.”
Powell on Jan. 14 filed a motion to withdraw Flynn’s Dec. 1, 2017 guilty plea, citing the “stunning” IG report. On Jan. 29, she filed again, this time asking the judge to dismiss the case for alleged improper government conduct disclosed by Horowitz.
Though the focus of the Horowitz report was FISA and Carter Page, not Flynn, Powell said the IG provided a broader narration of how the FBI targeted Trump associates.
Powell cited the FBI’s choosing Flynn on Aug. 16, 2016 to be one of four Trump campaign advisers to be investigated in any Trump-Russia election conspiracy.
According to Horowitz’s report, on Aug. 17, 2016, the FBI sent an agent described as supervisory special agent 1 (SSA1) to visit Trump campaign headquarters under the guise of delivering a defensive briefing on Russia. The real reason, the IG said was that Flynn planned to attend and the FBI wanted to collect information on him.
Horowitz testified to a Senate panel that there was never any defense briefing to alert Trump people on what the Kremlin was doing to interfere in the election.
The FBI did not seek Justice Department approval before meeting with the campaign on Aug. 17, the IG said.
“SSA 1’s participation in that presidential briefing was a calculated subterfuge to record and report for ‘investigative purposes’ anything Mr. Flynn and Mr. Trump said in that meeting,” Powell argued.
In a Feb. 2 report for The Washington Times, Rowan Scarborough noted that “SSA 1 is agent Joe Pientka, a supervisor in Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI Trump probe headed by agent Peter Strzok, who later was fired for misconduct. It was the Strzok-Pientka tandem who visited Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017. Flynn lied to them about his phone discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He now says he didn’t lie and was under duress by the special prosecutor, who threatened to target his son.”
Pientka’s name appears in an official House transcript of an interview with Strzok. A congressman identified him as Strzok’s top colleague. In a court proceeding, Powell mentions Pientka as the drafter of the first 302, or interview report, on the Flynn White House interview.
Powell said the FBI misled Flynn, failing to tell him he had been selected as an investigative target and driving him to the point of discouraging him from contacting White House counsel.
There was no evidence that Flynn was involved in an election conspiracy at the time, according to Horowitz. He never faced such charges.
“The government’s conduct in this case shows contempt for the law at every turn,” Powell wrote in a court filing. “Mr. Flynn was targeted and deliberately destroyed by corrupt factions within the FBI and intelligence community. While Mr. Flynn’s case is not even the focus of the IG Report, the Report reveals illegal, wrongful, and improper conduct that affected Mr. Flynn.”
Brandon L. Van Grack, who prosecuted Flynn while at the special counsel’s office, didn’t address the IG report in his reply. He said he will file a more expansive brief on Powell’s allegations. He is calling for a sentence of zero to six months in prison, with probation as a possibility.