Let's be clear: A crime was committed in the Michael Flynn case. But that crime was committed not by the retired general, but by someone who leaked the classified details of his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

The Justice Department was correct to drop charges against Flynn for lying to the FBI about his communications with Kislyak. The case was reviewed by Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri with two decades of experience as a prosecutor and FBI special agent, and the resulting 108-page motion to dismiss is a searing indictment of FBI misconduct.

The department found that there was no legal justification for the FBI to question Flynn in the first place, because the interview was "untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI's counterintelligence investigation" of Flynn. The FBI had decided to close that inquiry because of an "absence of any derogatory information." That meant Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements that were not "material" to any investigation. For Flynn to have committed a crime, his statement had to have been "not simply false, but 'materially' false with respect to a matter under investigation." In his plea, Flynn "stipulated to the essential element of materiality" without being informed that the FBI had already cleared him in the underlying investigation.

That fact alone is disgraceful. Even more outrageous is that the bureau interrogated Flynn about communications the Justice Department says were "entirely appropriate." He was the incoming national security adviser, and his "request that Russia avoid 'escalating' tensions in response to U.S. sanctions ... was consistent with him advocating for, not against, the interests of the United States." There was nothing in the calls to suggest he was being "directed and controlled by ... the Russian federation." And the FBI did not need his recollections of the calls because it had word-for-word transcripts.

It seems clear that the purpose of the interview was to set a perjury trap. The agents did not inform the White House counsel before the interview so as to catch Flynn by surprise; they did not share the transcripts with Flynn during the interview (which would have allowed him to refresh his memory); they did not warn him that making false statements would be a crime - all of which are standard procedure. Even so, both of the agents who questioned him came away with the impression that "Flynn was not lying or did not think he was lying."

For these and other reasons, the Justice Department withdrew the charges against Flynn. The fact that the judge in the case is refusing to accept the department's decision - and has appointed a former judge to contest it — only perpetuates the FBI's miscarriage of justice.

Instead of pursuing Flynn for a crime he did not commit, we should be focused on finding the individual who did commit a serious felony by leaking the classified details of Flynn's conversations with Kislyak. And thanks to acting national intelligence director Richard Grenell, we finally have a list of suspects.

Most government officials with access to the transcripts would not have known Flynn was on the call, because when a U.S. citizen is the subject of "incidental collection" during surveillance of a foreign national, their name is "masked." Only certain officials had the authority to request that a name be unmasked. Until now, we did not know which officials had done so. But on Wednesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a list of more than three dozen former Obama administration officials who submitted unmasking requests that revealed Flynn's identity.

Only eight of those received information after the intelligence community discovered his communications with Kislyak on Jan. 4, 2017: former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power; former national intelligence director James R. Clapper Jr.; former treasury secretary Jack Lew; former White House chief of staff Denis McDonough; deputy national intelligence director Michael Dempsey; former deputy national intelligence director Stephanie L. O'Sullivan; a CIA official whose name is redacted; and former vice president Joe Biden.

The crime of leaking the details about Flynn and Kislyak's call could only have been committed by a small universe of people who had access to the unmasked intelligence on Flynn. We don't know whether it was someone on the list. That is for U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is investigating the origins of the Russia probe, to determine. But this much is certain: Obama administration officials leaked unmasked intelligence about Flynn to the press. The fact that those individuals have gone unpunished for three years, while Flynn has endured a legal hell, is appalling.

2020, The Washington Post Writers Group

(34) comments

Driller

Pretzelman aka bishopsboy I guess you will vote for the other demented old man. Tell me what you think of Dr. Trump and friends trying to steal the National Guard Members benefits and retirement by not letting them be on duty for 1 more day, so they could draw their benefits. Way to show support for the troops.

bishopsboy

Dearest Driller, you'll have to explain what you're talking about.

Driller

Pretzelman aka bishopsboy, why am I not surprised, you claim you know nothing about this. I'm sure FOX never ran a story on this, I wonder why? The National Guard has been deployed in the fight of the "Virus". Many will be deployed for 89 days and then sent home. It will take 90 days of deployment to get the extra benefits from the government. Guardsmen deployed in March will be sent home on June 24, 1 day short of getting extra benefits as early retirement and educational benefits under Post-9/11 GI Bill.

bishopsboy

So what you're telling me, WV Olga, is that the President made a wise business decision. Giving early retirement and educational benefits for 90 days of work seems grossly out of proportion to the amount work performed don't you think? I don't know any private or public company that offers those types of benefits for 90 days of work in slightly-elevated hazardous environments. Do you? If so, please let me know where to send by resume.

Driller

Pretzelman aka bishopsboy Hypocrite!! You talk about Hunter Biden getting kicked out of the service,at least he served, that's a lot more than you did. You talk about Biden, but you seem to forget about P---y Man Dr. Trump and the sexual assault accusations against him and for sure his affairs with the 2 women while his wife was having his child. Of coarse being Pretzelman you know Bidens's son and Biden and you know Biden is guilty because you sniffed his fingers. When did you meet them? Keep on sniffing!!

bishopsboy

Well, WV Olga, let's talk about Hunter Biden's military service. Let's see he was sworn in as a direct commission US Navy Reserve officer at the age of 43 (of course, no prior military experience mind you - sounds familiar doesn't it?) in May 2013 by his daddy, Creepy Joe. Oh, and less than a month later the douche was kicked out for snorting cocaine. So now, WV Olga, tell me again how that's a lot more than I did? Other than snorting a little coke how did Hunter service his country? What crickets creeping….

I told you before, when you Demokkkrats refused to hold Bill Clinton accountable for his predatory sexual behavior while serving as an elected official, you took all that off the table in any future discussions about Republican misdeeds. So sorry, but you chose poorly and need to shut up about Trump’s bad behavior because you have zero moral or ethical grounds to stand on. I, on the other hand, have consistently condemned that type of behavior in members of both parties and have every right to highlight Biden’s digital escapades when you consistently downplay them by accusing the rape victim of lying about his crime.

Driller

pretzelman aka bishopsboy, At least he did serve for a short time, You were a wussy and didn't even try to serve. Probably you, like Dr. Trump and his sons, just wanted to get away from the service as fast as you could. Seems like the "Hero" and his Adminstration are trying to beat the National Guard People out of their benefits buy cutting their tours of duty off 1 day early to keep them from getting their benefits. Pretzelman, pat yourself on the back as you lie through your teeth, I have never said Biden didn't do it, I said you know everything about the situation because you smelled his fingers. Keep on sniffing and injecting. Keep trying to deflect from Dr. Trump's escapades with an adult star and then another woman, while his wife just had his baby. I don't have to take anything off the table, you have never seen anything I have posted about Clinton to support his Oval Office escapades. Admit it, Dr. Trump assaulted women and even admitted it on tape. Keep on making excuses for Dr. Trump and his escapades.

bishopsboy

Dearest WV Olga, I can only laugh at your last post. You should be more worried about the guy you're going to vote for in November not serving in Vietnam while you were getting shot at. I'm sure you're upset that Joe Biden mysteriously developed asthma and received a medical disqualification from the draft. That's right. Creepy Joe wussed out of serving beside you, pooping all over you instead. Enjoy voting for the demented old fool!

DeftCurmudgeon

Obama can bid adios to what's left of his "legacy".

His Wiki entry will shortly include the word "traitor".

LVW

Oh please.

LVW

Barr just "specifically dismissed the idea that U.S. Attorney John Durham — who has been probing how the FBI handled the 2016 investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election — would look at Obama or Biden." What are you going to talk about now?

DeftCurmudgeon

I just want the folks that -actually broke the law- to be held to account. If that's simply some of Obama's drones that's fine. The public will know who the head of the snake was.

Ol' jug ears comeuppance will be his "asterisk" presidency, the most corrupt since Nixon's.

bishopsboy

Deft, you can rest assured Zero broke the law but will never be held accountable because he is the first black President and the majority don’t have the cojones to make him pay - sad but true.

Programmer

Yes, agree Deft, I can only ask that those who spied on the Trump campaign be held accountable.

LVW

You guys are delusional. Just because you didn't like Obama's policies doesn't make him corrupt. Trump, on the other hand, with his numerous conflicts of interest, blatant neoptism, firings of inspectors general who ask uncomfortable questions, attempted abuses of power, lack of understanding of the rule of law ... he absolutely reeks of corruption, but you don't seem to mind.

DeftCurmudgeon

Riddle me this - had W "encouraged" his underlings to initiate a covert op to spy on and subvert the incoming Obama regime would you be so... forgiving ?

bishopsboy

Does IG Gerald Walpin ring a bell? No corruption there I suppose.

LVW

Deft: Do you have any proof that Obama did that, or just more wingnut say-so?

Programmer

Something else Barr said.

Barr described Mueller’s investigation..., “The law enforcement and intelligence apparatus of this country were involved in advancing a false and utterly baseless Russian collusion narrative against the President,” he asserted.

Driller

Programmer, Barr was a political hack and did exactly what Dr. Trump wanted him to do with the Mueller Report. Seems like the unmasking of Flynn wasn't an unmasking at all. For the present time, Barr is unwilling to investigate Biden and Obama. Maybe the 2,000 Federal Prosecutors calling for Barr's resignation may be slowing is agenda down.

bootsielawson

Another Obozo crime comes to the surface from the criminals who ran our country in the ground for eight years. Traitors one and all.

LVW

Flynn committed perjury and plead guilty ... nothing to see here, move along?

bishopsboy

Nonsense, LVW. Flynn is an America patriot railroaded by an intelligence community politicized by Zero. With Flynn out of the way, Comey and other traitors could try to oust Trump on bogus Russian collusion charges. Flynn only pleaded guilty because the FBI was going to go after his son on trumped up charges. What decent father wouldn’t protect his son under those circumstances?

prodigalson

You hit the nail on the head Bishop.

LVW

More Trump Defense Syndrome. Even Chris Christie and others in the transition staff warned that Flynn was bad news before all this occurred.

bishopsboy

LVW, you're suffering from ZDS (Zero Defense Syndrome).[smile]

Driller

Pretzelman aka bishopsboy, the only flaw in your BS is 2 questions, Who fired Flynn before any charges were brought against him and why? Why was he charged by the FBI?

bishopsboy

Dearest WV Olga, everyone with a brain knows Mueller’s investigation and baseless charges against Flynn were all a sham.

Driller

Pretzelman, Does your same thinking go for Joe Biden and his son as it does for Flynn and his son?

bishopsboy

Dearest WV Olga, absolutely not. Biden’s son is a dope head douche kicked out of the military, took $1M per year from a corrupt Ukrainian energy company with zero experience in the Energy sector. He takes $1.5B from the Chinese to invest with zero Wall Street experience. No, Hunter Biden is as corrupt as his father is a creepy hair sniffer and finger man. Also he tried to avoid paying child support for his love child by claiming poverty.

Programmer

LVW, Flynn pled guilty to perjury in 2017 but this year withdrew his guilty plea. The DOJ then withdrew the charges. Do you know why? Do you really want to know what is going on? There is more to come.

#ObamaGate

Driller

Programmer, Explain Obamagate. Dr. Trump doesn't seem to have an answer, maybe you do? The reason the charges were dropped was because Barr is a political hack and does what Dr. Trump wants. Your joy may be a little to soon as the judge isn't so willing to forget about Flynn's plea deal. The only difference is now maybe Dr. Trump won't have to give Flynn a pardon.

Programmer

Deft pretty much answered the charges question below, they were dropped because they were not relevant to the supposed investigation and hence there is no chargeable crime and then there is no paperwork for the charge. The judge is being removed from the case for exceeding his authority.

It would take you doing your own due diligence on Obamagate to explain, you wouldn't believe anything I told you. I'll start with a slow easy lob over the plate, say nothing to fear right, Barr already said for now Durham wasn't looking at the two guys on the top.

DeftCurmudgeon

He copped a plea because the feds had bankrupted him and threatened to do the same to his son.

And now the original 302 interview paperwork which supposedly contains his "perjury" has been lost.

Imagine that.

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