- The Washington Times - Friday, July 10, 2020

Days after Michael Flynn’s infamous 2017 interview with FBI agents, bureau and Justice Department officials concluded he told agents the truth — at least as he believed it — about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, according to bombshell documents unsealed in a court filing Friday.

The documents also revealed that the FBI was investigating Flynn, who briefly served as President Trump’s first national security adviser, as early as the summer of 2016, but “had not seen things to point to [an] initial issue.”

Also unearthed in the documents was that FBI leadership nixed having agents playing select audio cuts from recordings of Flynn’s phone calls with the then-Russian ambassador during his January 2017 interview with FBI agents.

Flynn was charged in the Trump-Russia collusion probe with lying to FBI agents about his conversations with the ambassador. Although he pleaded guilty twice, he later recanted and professed his innocence.

The revelations were disclosed in an internal Justice Department draft memo and a new batch of handwritten notes from top FBI and Justice Department officials overseeing the Trump-Russia collusion probe.

“FBI advised that based on this interview, they did not believe General Flynn was acting as an agent of Russia. FBI also advised that although they recognized the statements were inconsistent with the FISA collection, they believed Flynn believed what he was telling them,” the internal Justice Department document states.

The heavily-redacted document dated January 30, 2017, was released to Flynn’s legal team earlier this week.

A separate DOJ document written in chicken scratch handwriting appears to confirm that conclusion. The notes were written by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Tashina Gauhar as part of the January 25, 2017 meeting, according to the court filing.

“FBI — largely telling the truth as believed it even though contradicting,” Ms. Gauhar wrote.

Several top players in the Russia investigation attended the meeting, including anti-Trump ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI General Counsel James Baker, and former Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Bill Priestap.

Flynn’s attorneys said the documents provide even more compelling evidence requiring the court to dismiss the government’s case against him.

“This evidence negates multiple essential elements required for the prosecution of false statement offenses,” they wrote in the legal filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The criminal case against Flynn has meandered through the court system. In May, the Justice Department shockingly decided to abandon the prosecution and asked the judge to dismiss the charges against him.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who is overseeing the Flynn case, delayed granting the department’s request and tapped a retired judge to argue against the Justice Department.

Flynn then asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to dismiss the case and in a 2-1 decision, the court ruled Judge Sullivan did not have the authority to buck the Justice Department’s request.

Judge Sullivan on Thursday petitioned for a rehearing by full appeals court.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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