U.S. court orders dismissal of case against former Trump aide Flynn

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    • #329560
      Whattheheck
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 287

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday directed a federal judge to drop a criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI, handing a victory to the Justice Department in another twist to the politically charged case.

      In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of Flynn and the Trump administration in preventing U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan from exercising his discretion on whether to grant the department’s motion to clear Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty.

      The ruling prevents Sullivan from hearing arguments at a July 16 hearing from retired judge John Gleeson, whom he appointed as a “friend of the court” to argue against dropping the case.

      “In this case, the district court’s actions will result in specific harms to the exercise of the Executive Branch’s exclusive prosecutorial power,” Judge Neomi Rao, who was appointed to the circuit court by President Trump, wrote in the majority opinion.

      https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/504273-appeals-court-orders-judge-to-dismiss-flynn-charges

       

       

      Good!  The end of a political witch hunt.

       

    • #329566
      Jan Boehmerman
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 3,128

      … of the “Russia Gate” BS!

      • #329613
        Jim Lane
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 438
        Flynn was asked if he’d communicated with the Russian ambassador.  He could have answered, “Absolutely I did, and what’s it to ya, copper?”  If he had said that, then the issue would be whether his communications violated any law.
        But he didn’t say that.  He could have simply refused to answer, but he didn’t do that, either.  Instead, he chose to lie.  He falsely denied the communications.  He wasn’t indicted for “Russia Gate”; he was indicted for lying to the FBI.  Confronted with clear evidence that he had in fact lied, he pled guilty.
        The only reason the case is still in the news is that the President of the United States most emphatically does not believe in equal justice under law.  As a result, his toady of an Attorney General overrode the prosecutors and gave Flynn a Get-out-of-jail-free card.
        You should hail the circuit court’s decision if you believe that a powerful public official should be able to exempt his friends from the rules that apply to the rest of us.
        • #329620
          Jan Boehmerman
          Moderator
          • Total Posts: 3,128

          Was the investigation a partisan hack job based on a bogus FISA warrant?

          Two questions for you @jimlane

          I am by NO MEANS a fan of Trump or Flynn, but the entire “Russia Gate” investigation was shameful partisan BS!

          • #329690
            Jim Lane
            Participant
            • Total Posts: 438

            @janboehmermann

            With the caveat that I haven’t followed the case in detail and that I’m not willing to do a lot of research on it, here goes:

            Was the purpose of the interrogation to see if Flynn communicated with the Russian ambassador?

            I don’t know. I do know that it doesn’t matter.

            Was the investigation a partisan hack job based on a bogus FISA warrant?

            Based on what I’ve read, I think the answer is No. I do know that it doesn’t matter.

            Why don’t these things matter? Because even if we make the assumptions most favorable to Flynn, the background and motives for an investigation do not empower private citizens to violate the law. If a witness falsely accuses you of a crime, you still aren’t entitled to have that witness murdered.

            I think Flynn was not subpoenaed. He agreed to be interviewed. Without a subpoena, he was under no compulsion to answer. He could have told the FBI agents, “This investigation is a partisan hack job based on a bogus FISA warrant and I’m not going to cooperate.” For that matter, he could have told them, “You guys are all Capricorns and my astrologer told me to have nothing to do with you.”

            Or, of course, he could have told the truth.

            If he had been subpoenaed, his options would have been more limited. The astrology BS wouldn’t fly. Nevertheless, a subpoena doesn’t give investigators complete carte blanche to find out anything they want, with no oversight. Flynn could have assembled the evidence and gone to court, asking a judge to limit the subpoena or quash it entirely, based on the contention that the investigation was a partisan hack job based on a bogus FISA warrant. Even with a subpoena, he could have invoked his privilege against self-incrimination and refused to answer. (If all his conversations with the Russians were perfectly legal, it’s hard to see any legal jeopardy that would justify taking the Fifth, but that’s a separate question.)

            Or, of course, he could have told the truth.

            The basic point is that he chose to tell a lie, and he chose to tell a lie in a circumstance (FBI interview) in which lying is a criminal offense. Game, set, match. If the FBI agents committed some crime or even some lesser impropriety in the run-up to the interview, there are remedies for that, but those remedies do not include retaliatory felonies by the subject of an investigation.

            Neither @birdsong nor @salemcourt explains to me how the FBI mysteriously compelled Flynn to lie. If the FBI had the transcripts, and Flynn knew they had the transcripts, that would obviously be a very strong reason not to lie. As for his son, I thought the issue was that his son had some possible legal exposure on an unrelated matter. After Flynn chose to commit a crime by lying to the FBI, part of his plea deal was that his son got off, but that doesn’t explain why Flynn couldn’t have simply told the truth in the first place.

            • #329711
              Ohio Barbarian
              Moderator
              • Total Posts: 14,449

              Bill Clinton got impeached over a minor crime–lying about a blow job. That was bullshit then, and this hullabaloo over Flynn is the exact same sort of bullshit. Bush and Obama lied about things that cost the lives of millions, yet they’re living a life of luxury and celebrated by liberal Democrats just because they’re not Trump.

              And Russiagate was, and is, a proven hoax.


              @jimlane
              With a pandemic raging and the country on the verge of social and economic collapse, quite frankly I couldn’t care less about Flynn.

              It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

              Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I'll show you a crook.--Harry Truman

            • #329735
              BirdSong
              Participant
              • Total Posts: 70

              @Jim Lane There is no evidence that Flynn lied. The FBI forced Flynn to make that plea under duress. The FBI had already destroyed Flynn financially and then threaten to charge his son in another case unless he plead guilty to lying.

              It’s obvious he didn’t lie, since Flynn knew the FBI probably already knew exactly what was said in the phone call with the Russian ambassador, since Flynn assumed the FBI were listening in on the conversation (they were), a conversation Flynn did nothing wrong concerning Russia. There was no reason to lie, and a lie wouldn’t be material to anything concerning the FBI since this whole thing was a criminal scam and Flynn’s behavior concerning Russia was perfectly normal and desirable.

              The crime here is that the FBI tried a political coup against the president of the US in the Russiagate hoax that they knew was bogus. Flynn was collateral damage.

        • #329638
          BirdSong
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 70

          @Jim Lane Both Flynn and the FBI knew that the FBI recorded the phone conversation with the Russian ambassador. The FBI questioned Flynn about something they both knew they both knew, and they both knew what Flynn said on the phone conversation wasn’t illegal or wrong. Then the original 302 documenting the FBI interview magically can’t be seen by anyone, in an FBI investigation run by a dirty FBI agent (Peter Strzok) who hated Trump and expressed he wanted to take Trump down. Also, before the interview the FBI knew claims concerning Russiagate were bogus.

          Flynn conceded to the claims of the FBI concerning the lying only after the FBI ruined Flynn financially and threaten his son with prosecution in another case. Flynn lost his house. The FBI then magically can’t show the original 302 (documents the interview) concerning the interview and the interview wasn’t recorded. Flynn did a plea deal to end it.

          The only purpose of the interview (in which the FBI violated many protocols) was to get Flynn to lie about something that wasn’t wrong in the first place (or try to claim he lied) to take him down (this was proven by documents since exposed) and go after Trump in the Russiagate hoax scam.

          The conversation between Flynn and the Russian ambassador is linked here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/transcripts-of-calls-between-flynn-russian-diplomat-show-they-discussed-sanctions/2020/05/29/cc3d29c6-a1f0-11ea-b5c9-570a91917d8d_story.html  Absolutely nothing wrong was said here. Trump already won the election and Flynn was trying to decrease tensions with Russia heading into Trump’s administration. Here’s the part of the phone conversation with the Russian ambassador in question:
          Flynn’s message to Moscow was: “Do not allow this administration to box us in right now!” according to the transcript. “I know you have to have some sort of action,” Flynn said, but he added he would like Russia “to only make it reciprocal; don’t go any further than you have to because I don’t want us to get into something that have [sic] to escalate to tit-for-tat.” Kislyak replied that he understood, but sentiments “are raging now in Moscow.” Flynn replied that he understood, “but I really do not want us to get into the situation where we, everybody goes back and forth and everybody has to be a tough guy here. We don’t need that right now. We need cool heads to prevail.” At parts of the transcript, it is not entirely clear who is speaking. “Now when FSB and GRU are sanctioned,” the transcript says at one point, referring to Russia’s two most prominent intelligence agencies, “and Kislyak asks himself, does it mean that the U.S. is not willing to work on terrorist threats, Kislyak poses a question. Flynn says, yes.” Flynn then repeated his request asking Russia to not expel more Americans than Russians have been expelled, because if Moscow kicks out 60 people, “you will shut down the embassy,” according to the transcript. “Let’s keep this at an even-kill level; then when we come in, we will have a better conversation where we are going to go regarding our relationship.”

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    • #329572
      salemcourt
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,433

      Causing Flynn to lie by threatening to bring charges against his son was despicable.  I am also no fan of Flynn or anyone else associated with the MIC.

    • #329712
      salemcourt
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,433

      @JimLane “There is no record at all — aside from Flynn’s guilty plea — that suggests he actually lied about having discussed the sanctions.”  Seen this statement on multiple sites.  Went to look for actual Transcripts that show he lied.  There is none I could track after several hours of searching.  Given that many people plead guilty to a lesser charge, I think he pled guilty in exchange for committing an actual crime – Not reporting that he acted as a foreign agent for Turkey.

      • #329737
        BirdSong
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 70
        Flynn did discuss the sanctions with the Russian ambassador, but there’s no evidence that he lied, Nothing Flynn said was illegal or wrong. His behavior was perfectly normal for an incoming administration. Only sociopathic cold warring goons would have a problem with what was said (as in Hillary and the FBI).
        ,
        The conversation between Flynn and the Russian ambassador is linked here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/transcripts-of-calls-between-flynn-russian-diplomat-show-they-discussed-sanctions/2020/05/29/cc3d29c6-a1f0-11ea-b5c9-570a91917d8d_story.html  Absolutely nothing wrong was said here. Trump already won the election and Flynn was trying to decrease tensions with Russia heading into Trump’s administration. Here’s the part of the phone conversation with the Russian ambassador in question:
        Flynn’s message to Moscow was: “Do not allow this administration to box us in right now!” according to the transcript. “I know you have to have some sort of action,” Flynn said, but he added he would like Russia “to only make it reciprocal; don’t go any further than you have to because I don’t want us to get into something that have [sic] to escalate to tit-for-tat.” Kislyak replied that he understood, but sentiments “are raging now in Moscow.” Flynn replied that he understood, “but I really do not want us to get into the situation where we, everybody goes back and forth and everybody has to be a tough guy here. We don’t need that right now. We need cool heads to prevail.” At parts of the transcript, it is not entirely clear who is speaking. “Now when FSB and GRU are sanctioned,” the transcript says at one point, referring to Russia’s two most prominent intelligence agencies, “and Kislyak asks himself, does it mean that the U.S. is not willing to work on terrorist threats, Kislyak poses a question. Flynn says, yes.” Flynn then repeated his request asking Russia to not expel more Americans than Russians have been expelled, because if Moscow kicks out 60 people, “you will shut down the embassy,” according to the transcript. “Let’s keep this at an even-kill level; then when we come in, we will have a better conversation where we are going to go regarding our relationship.”
    • #329781
      Jim Lane
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 438

      @birdsong writes: “There is no evidence that Flynn lied.”

      I took a look at Flynn’s bio on Wikipedia, specifically this section: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Flynn#Investigations_during_his_tenure  (there’s additional relevant information in the earlier section on “Contacts with the Russian ambassador”).  An excerpt about Flynn’s meeting with the FBI agents:

      During the meeting, the FBI agents discussed with Flynn about his contacts with Kislyak regarding the late December 2019 United Nations Security Council resolution regarding Israeli settlements. According to the FBI notes, Flynn told the agents he had not tried to influence Russia’s vote on the resolution; in fact, he had asked Kislyak to have Russia oppose or delay the resolution.<sup id=”cite_ref-DayApril30_139-3″ class=”reference”>[139]</sup><sup id=”cite_ref-148″ class=”reference”>[148]</sup><sup id=”cite_ref-Richey_149-0″ class=”reference”>[149]</sup> The FBI agents also asked Flynn whether he had asked Kislyak to avoid escalating the diplomatic conflict, or whether he had advocated against a “tit for tat” Russian response to U.S. sanctions. According to FBI notes, Flynn responded: “Not really. I don’t remember. It wasn’t, ‘Don’t do anything’.” Flynn had in fact advised Kislyak that Russia should temper their response to the U.S. sanctions.<sup id=”cite_ref-Richey_149-1″ class=”reference”>[149]</sup><sup id=”cite_ref-150″ class=”reference”>[150]</sup><sup id=”cite_ref-151″ class=”reference”>[151]</sup>

      Each of those bracketed numbers is a footnote with a citation to a source.  (Wikipedia doesn’t do original research.)  I have not clicked through to read any of the referenced sources to see evidence the Flynn lied..  I suppose some people will happily say that every single one of them is part of some Deep State hoax.


      @birdsong
      also writes: “There was no reason to lie, and a lie wouldn’t be material to anything concerning the FBI since this whole thing was a criminal scam and Flynn’s behavior concerning Russia was perfectly normal and desirable.”

      Going again to Wikipedia, that article gives an explanation for why Flynn lied.  Briefly, Trump was furious about a Washington Post story that (truthfully) reported Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak.  Trump wanted the story killed.  Flynn, doing his corrupt master’s bidding, directed an aide to convey a false denial to the Post, which duly printed it.  In addition,

      According to the Mueller Report, in the following days, Flynn proceeded to lie about not discussing the sanctions with Kislyak to incoming chief-of-staff Reince Priebus, incoming press secretary Sean Spicer, and vice president-elect Mike Pence. The trio publicly parroted Flynn’s falsehood to the media, not knowing it was false.<sup id=”cite_ref-DayApril30_139-1″ class=”reference”>[139]</sup><sup id=”cite_ref-PolantzApril30_140-0″ class=”reference”>[140]</sup>

      So the explanation is that, by the time of the FBI interview, Flynn had gotten too deeply into his lie to feel comfortable telling the truth.  Even exercising his right to refuse to answer would have been a red flag.

      As for the Obama administration, the initial question had been whether Flynn, then a private citizen, had been negotiating with a foreign government in violation of the Logan Act.  Flynn’s lying raised an additional concern:

      As a result, the Obama administration officials feared that these publicly stated falsehoods would result in “a compromise situation for Flynn because the Department of Justice assessed that the Russian government could prove Flynn lied”, stated the Mueller Report.<sup id=”cite_ref-PolantzApril30_140-1″ class=”reference”>[140]</sup>

      Here again, let’s keep our eye on the ball.  The issue is not whether the Obama administration acted properly or whether two FBI agents were sleeping together or any of that other stuff.  The criticisms of the FBI over this, even if they’re all true, do not justify the subject of an investigation in committing a felony.  Lying to the FBI is a felony.  If Flynn thought the investigation was BS, he could have refused to cooperate, or he could have told the truth.


      @salemcourt
      writes: “‘There is no record at all — aside from Flynn’s guilty plea — that suggests he actually lied about having discussed the sanctions.’ Seen this statement on multiple sites. Went to look for actual Transcripts that show he lied. There is none I could track after several hours of searching.”

      AFAIK, the FBI agents did not make a tape recording of the interview that would enable later production of a transcript.  So what?  Lying to the FBI is a crime whether or not there’s a transcript.  The only point of a transcript would be to confirm what Flynn said at the meeting.  That would also be the point of the form FD-302, a post-meeting summary, which, as @birdsong stresses, is missing (and I agree that its absence is unfortunate).  So what do we know about what Flynn told the FBI?  The most damning point, as recounted above, is that Flynn had given the same story (his false denial) to the Washington Post, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and Mike Pence.  He made all those communications before the FBI interview.  Given that fact, what would you expect him to do at the interview?  The natural course would have been for him to continue to stick to his story.  The FBI agents who were there have asserted that that’s exactly what he did.  I find that assertion credible.  If the case against him had gone to trial, the defense would certainly have been able to raise the absence of the 302 form as a reason for thinking that the agents were lying.  Jurors could conclude either (1) Flynn suddenly made a 180-degree change of course at the meeting and told the truth, and the FBI deliberately shredded the form so that two agents could lie under oath to convict Flynn; or (2) Flynn stuck to his story, as most people in his situation would, and the absence of the form was just a paperwork screwup.  I don’t practice criminal law but my semi-educated guess is that alternative (2) would have been far more likely.

      At his trial, Flynn would have been entitled to waive his Fifth Amendment privilege and testify that he had told the FBI the truth.  Had he done so, of course, he would’ve been subjected to cross-examination about all his prior inconsistent statements.


      @ohiobarbarian
      writes: “Bill Clinton got impeached over a minor crime–lying about a blow job. That was bullshit then, and this hullabaloo over Flynn is the exact same sort of bullshit. Bush and Obama lied about things that cost the lives of millions, yet they’re living a life of luxury and celebrated by liberal Democrats just because they’re not Trump.”

      Impeachment is supposed to be for high crimes and misdemeanors.  I agree with you that lying about a blow job was minor and not grounds for impeachment.  Clinton did get hit with a suspension of his law license, so it’s not as if he got off scot-free.  Anyway, lying about a significant national security matter, including especially lying in a context where it might give a foreign power leverage over the National Security Advisor, is not minor.  Whether to prosecute a particular crime, even where there’s good evidence against the defendant, is a matter of prosecutorial discretion.  I can’t fault the prosecutors’ decision in this instance.

      As for Bush and Obama, this is classic what-aboutism (I go back to Wikipedia, where this article discusses the tactic).  Did Bush or Obama lie in a context where lying is a felony, as opposed to a moral outrage?  Anyway, whether either of them committed a crime, or merely a sin, or nothing at all is irrelevant to the prosecution of Flynn.  There is no general principle that says that prominent public officials’ lies mean that the laws against perjury are suspended and that everyone in the country is immunized from legal repercussions from all their felonious lies.  If I wanted to spend a lot more time on this, I could probably find a case in which some business executive has been hit with a perjury rap for having lied about polluting the river or the like, and you’d be perfectly OK with him being prosecuted for it.


      @ohiobarbarian
      also writes: “And Russiagate was, and is, a proven hoax.”

      I know that, by JPR standards of evidence, that has indeed been proven.  From what I’ve read here, the key step in the proof is the binary thinking that afflicts this site.  The vague term “Russiagate” could be taken to mean the collection of a number of statements, including: The Russian government wanted Trump to win; they set up a troll farm in St. Petersburg that used false-flag accounts to attack Clinton on social media; at least one representative of the Russian government met with the Trump campaign at Trump Tower before the election; the purpose of that meeting was to give the campaign information that would help Trump; such help, and even the solicitation of such help, was illegal; the Russian government hacked into the DNC computer system and obtained emails which it released publicly, using Wikileaks as an intermediary; these anti-Clinton efforts by the Russian government were crucial to Trump’s narrow victory, because without them, Clinton would have won the electoral vote and become President.

      The binary thinking enters in because people are so invested in their preferred narrative that the foregoing paragraph must be all true or all false.  On DU, their investment is in Clinton.  They really hate the idea that Bernie would have won.  They want to insist that Clinton would have won but for illegal pro-Trump conduct.  They’re also invested in the idea that the Russian social media operation included trying to help Trump by getting Bernie’s supporters to vote for Stein instead of Clinton, so they can tar a lot of the pro-Bernie activity online as being the work of Russian trolls.

      On JPR, of course, the investment is in the opposite direction.  For example, if the DNC hack was an inside job, with no Russian involvement, then that particular item in the “Russiagate” list is disproved, and therefore the whole thing was a hoax.

      For my part: That there was a Trump Tower meeting is indisputably true.  There was at some point a cover story that it had to do with Russian orphans or some such (this is another point where I admit I haven’t followed the details), but the allegation that it involved illegal aid to the campaign is probably true.  That the Russians obtained the DNC emails is probably false.  That Russian interference helped Trump is indisputably true.  Whether it helped him enough to be a significant factor in the electoral result is completely uncertain — I think a lot of social media stuff is preaching to the choir, so the St. Petersburg operation had only a small or very small effect, but Trump’s win was narrow enough that a small effect could have been decisive.  Obviously, my view is at odds with the doctrinaire conclusions that Russiagate was a complete hoax (JPR) and that it was crucial to Clinton’s loss (DU).

      Finally, @ohiobarbarian writes: “With a pandemic raging and the country on the verge of social and economic collapse, quite frankly I couldn’t care less about Flynn.”  We certainly have huge national problems, but that doesn’t mean everything else gets put on hold.  I spent some time recently on the case of guy who was driving along, minding his own business, when another driver, who was violating the speed limit to start with, ran a stop sign and hit my guy, causing him serious injuries.  Is that as important as a pandemic?  No.  It’s not even as important as the gross corruption involved in having the Attorney General interfere in a criminal prosecution to protect a friend of the President.  So what?  I think that corruption is still important.  Heck, even the auto accident involving a retired pizza-maker, with no connection to national security, is, in its limited context, important.

      And with that, I’m done.  I’ll try to resist the temptation to reply to whatever further responses there are.  The Flynn case is important, but the discussion of the Flynn case on JPR is far less important, and I’ve already overdone it.  Peace to you all.

    • #329799
      djean111
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 4,050

      NO ONE knows everything that actually happened, I believe the FBI plays fast and loose with the truth when convenient, too, and I am still thrilled that Hillary lost, thank you to all that contributed to that! – but I just wanted to propose that “whataboutism” is really pretty much like case citation, wherein, I think, lawyers cite previous similar cases and their outcomes.  Does the judge sneer “whataboutism!!!!!” when that happens?  I also think of “whataboutism” as providing a frame of reference, like lawyers do when they research a case to see how other similar cases were decided.

      One of the reasons I do not care about this is because it has no effect whatsoever on my vote and support.  And it cracks my shit up, because the US so openly and sometimes bloodily interferes with other countries that I cannot imagine why everyone invested in “Russiagate” does not fall down senseless from the sheer hypocrisy.  Case citation!  A bit general, no pages and courts named, but still. I think there are lots of examples in Wikipedia!  Lots!

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_electoral_intervention

      Bwahahaha!  Peace indeed!  Just smiling at the thought of a judge dismissing case citations as “whataboutism!”

    • #329917
      peacecorps
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,028

      We all know that we can lie to law enforcement if we feel strongly that a principle we believe in compels us to do so. We also know that civil disobedience carries with it the expectation that we will likely be punished for our disobedience.

      Kelly lied to law enforcement for a principle (be it high or low) that he believed in. Our L & O president would not, I assume, say that he condones people lying to law enforcement, pleading guilty in court to having done so, then being given a free pass to avoid punishment. Something tells me that demonstrators who have been arrested lie to law enforcement, they will not get the same deal from the Justice Department that Kelly has gotten.

      The law applies to thee and not to me … and the people who work for me and remain loyal to me.

      They are called 'human' rights not "if politicians do not feel threatened" rights. Many politicians see national sovereignty/security as more important because they protect their power and wealth. Human rights often do just the opposite.

      National issues (slavery/racism, income inequality, pandemics and pathetic health care, weak unions) are not solved with more states' rights. Global problems (climate change, migration, trade, war, pandemics) are not resolved with more national sovereignty.

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