Newly unsealed documents indicate that the FBI targeted former national security adviser Michael Flynn for prosecution, showing senior officials at the bureau discussing ways to ensnare him in a “perjury trap” before an interview.
The four pages of documents were unsealed by US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan on Wednesday, revealing in handwritten notes and emails that the FBI’s goal in investigating Flynn may have been “to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”
“The FBI planned it as a perjury trap at best and in so doing put it in writing,” Flynn’s defense attorney Sidney Powell said in a statement.
Sullivan also ordered another 11 pages of documents unsealed, which, according to Powell, may soon be redacted and published.
The potentially exculpatory documents were inexplicably denied to Flynn’s defense team for years, despite numerous requests to the government.
“What is especially terrifying is that without the integrity of Attorney General Bill Barr and US Attorney Jensen, we still would not have this clear exculpatory information as… the prosecutors have opposed every request we have made,” Powell said.
The FBI says it became interested in Flynn due to his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak not long after Donald Trump took the Oval Office, amid the so-called “Russia collusion” probe. The bureau convinced Flynn to agree to an interview without any legal representation, apparently hoping to lure him into perjuring himself, and was ultimately successful, with Flynn charged for making false statements to the FBI in late 2017.
Flynn’s first defense team was handled by international law firm Covington & Burling, where former Obama attorney general Eric Holder returned as a partner in 2015. The firm has come under fire after it was revealed that its lawyers rejected a number of immunity deals offered by congressional committees without Flynn’s knowledge, and later delayed turning over thousands of pages of case documents to the three-star Army general’s second defense team, hired last year and led by Powell.
Flynn initially pleaded guilty to the false statements charge, but is now attempting to withdraw it, stating his first legal team was ineffective, citing corrupt and improper conduct of the Obama-era Department of Justice, insisting it conspired to set him up all along and never had a valid reason to investigate his discussions with Kislyak.