Michael Ledeen is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Byron York seems baffled by the discovery in the Mueller report that the FBI was after General Michael Flynn long before the intercepts of his telephone conversations with Russian officials during the post-2016 election transition. By that time, Obama Administration higher-ups in the intelligence community were warning Trump that Flynn had suspicious intimate contacts with the Russians, possibly in violation of the Logan Act. As Byron writes:
Mueller strongly suggests something else was up. Obama administration intelligence officials "were surprised by Russia's decision not to retaliate in response to the sanctions," the report said. "When analyzing Russia's response, they became aware of Flynn's discussion of sanctions with Kislyak. Previously, the FBI had opened an investigation of Flynn based on his relationship with the Russian government. Flynn's contacts with Kislyak became a key component of that investigation.
Mueller attributed the information, which is on page 26 of Volume II of the report, to interviews with former Justice Department official Mary McCord, who was deeply involved in the Flynn case, and fired FBI Director James Comey.
The FBI investigation of General Flynn goes back several years, perhaps as far back as 2015. This was undoubtedly because the intelligence community didn’t like Flynn, who had changed the way intelligence was collected and analyzed on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, taking it away from Washington military and intel officials and relocating it in theater. His methods worked well, but they greatly irritated the Washington-based intelligence crowd. When Flynn was the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), it became known that he intended to audit decades of covert budgets, checking to see if the funding, especially for CIA, actually went to the intended recipients for the approved missions. If you ask me, the campaign against Flynn that so surprised Byron York is best explained by the intel community’s eagerness to lock him out of their system. It was reinforced when Flynn criticized Obama’s Afghanistan policy in sworn testimony to Congress.
I suspect that if there is ever a proper inquiry into the operation, we’ll find that the CIA and FBI placed trusted informers inside Flynn’s offices at DIA. It was clearly very important to them, as we see when Comey overrode his own officers to push the claim that Flynn had misled them.
Still earlier, the intelligence community invented a romantic relationship between Flynn and Russian historian Svetlana Lokhova. This was one of the false tales that came to us courtesy of British intelligence, most famously the Steele Dossier, and undoubtedly involved the CIA.
When Flynn became Trump’s favorite national security adviser, it became even more urgent for the Dark State to take him out. Having already organized the operation even before Trump became the Republican nominee, it was a relatively simple task to expand it, and as we know the FBI trapped him, as they had with Scooter Libby and others.
Full credit goes to Byron York for spotting the confirmation of the long-standing anti-Flynn operation, and for asking what it was all about. I believe I have written about the operation more than half a dozen times, but I never expected it to be documented in Mueller’s report. I hope it will be more fully explored when Mueller is questioned.
I also hope that President Trump will soon do the right thing, and pardon General Flynn. The government conjured a phony case against him. Now it’s time to turn him loose. Finally.