By Linda L Barton
The newly assigned judge to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s criminal case in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has hinted the guilty plea Flynn made could very well be thrown out.
During the transition in December 2016, Flynn pled guilty to one count of lying to the FBI in November about contacts he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The fact this was even an issue is surprising since it is common practice for an incoming national security adviser to speak with representatives from foreign governments. What is even more concerning, is the conversations had nothing to do with the purpose of Mueller’s investigation, which is colluding with the Russians during the presidential campaign.
Chief political correspondent, Washington Examiner, Fox News contributor, and the author of The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy Byron York pointed out an unusual sequence of events in Flynn’s case following his guilty plea that has not received widespread media coverage.
A new judge. An unusual order to Robert Mueller to produce evidence. (Ghost of Ted Stevens?) Delayed sentencing. Talks over 'sensitive' material. Things are happening in the Michael Flynn case. https://t.co/YiLpgKJLps
— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 16, 2018
Days after accepting the plea, Judge Rudolph Contreras recused himself from the case. Why would the judge do such a thing? Let’s look at a few facts most in the media seem to ignore.
Judge Contreras was in the position of approving FISA warrants at the time when FBI Deputy Head of Counterintelligence, FBI Agent Peter Strzok was compiling the underlying information for the FISA warrant used against Trump campaign figures including Carter Page and Paul Manafort. Well, isn’t that an interesting tidbit of information?
Then to add a little more twist to the story there’s a strong possibility Judge Contreras actually signed off on the FISA warrant in October 2016, which then led to the counterintelligence wiretapping and surveillance of the Trump campaign. That wiretapping and surveillance led to the questioning of Michael Flynn and ultimately brought Flynn to Contreras’ courtroom. Huh, here’s where things begin to get interesting.
With everything coming out over the last few weeks it makes one wonder if in fact Flynn did, in fact, commit perjury. Was this a shakedown with the hope he’d sell out someone higher up such as… President Trump?
With rumors of Mueller maybe going after Flynn’s son, it would not be a stretch to believe he decided to plead guilty to protect his son from prosecution. I don’t know too many parents who wouldn’t do the same. Also, with mounting legal bills, it would not be a stretch to believe he would just want it all to end so as not to be left completely bankrupt. However, it looks as though things are changing in the case against Flynn.
With the recusal of Judge Contreras, the court has assigned Judge Emmet Sullivan, who presided over the corruption case of the late Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens. Convicted in October 2008, had cost Stevens his re-election bid a few weeks later. However, it was discovered just months afterward the Justice Department had withheld exculpatory evidence that would have helped the senator’s defense. The conviction was set aside in April 2009. Unfortunately, the damage was already done.
According to York, Sullivan then ripped into the Stevens prosecutors with an anger rarely seen on the bench. “In nearly 25 years on the bench, I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case,” Sullivan stated at the time.
The judge was furious how the federal government had repeatedly withheld evidence from the Stevens defense and has been known ever since as a judge who is a stickler for making sure defendants are allowed access to all the evidence they are entitled to, York wrote.
As part of his plea agreement, Flynn had to forego “the right to any further discovery or disclosures” from government prosecutors. “It certainly appears that Sullivan’s order supersedes the plea agreement and imposes on the special counsel the obligation to reveal any and all evidence suggesting that Flynn is innocent of the charge to which he has admitted guilt,” wrote National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor.
One piece of evidence which may be helpful to Flynn is the FBI agents who conducted his interview in Jan. 2017; one of them was none other than Special Agent Peter Stzok. Yeah, that Peter Stzok, the one who professed his hatred of Trump in numerous text messages with his mistress.
“On March 2, 2017, former FBI Director Comey testified in a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee that, while Flynn may have had some honest failures of recollection during the interview, the agents who questioned him concluded that he did not lie,” according to McCarthy.
“But apparently because Strzok’s finding that Flynn was truthful was negated by Mueller’s very aggressive prosecutors,” McCarthy added. “Did they decide they knew better than the experienced investigators who were in the room observing Flynn’s demeanor as he answered their questions?” It makes one wonder if Flynn’s team knew that little tidbit of information before they agreed to the guilty plea?
Whether Flynn’s legal team will have factual grounds to undo the plea agreement is still unknown, but Mueller’s prosecutors agreed last month to put off sentencing in the case until at least this May. So, now we wait.