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The FBI Is No Friend of Liberty and Justice

The FBI's handling of the Michael Flynn case is disturbing.

Paul Hennessy/Polaris/NewscomPaul Hennessy/Polaris/NewscomOne of the unfortunate ironies of the manufactured "Russiagate" controversy is the perception of the FBI as a friend of liberty and justice. But the FBI has never been a friend of liberty and justice.

Rather, as James Bovard writes, it "has a long record of both deceit and incompetence. Five years ago, Americans learned that the FBI was teaching its agents that 'the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.' This has practically been the Bureau's motif since its creation in 1908…. The FBI has always used its 'good guy' image to keep a lid on its crimes." (Bovard has made a vocation of cataloging the FBI's many offenses against liberty and justice, for which we are forever in his debt.)

Things are certainly not different today. Take the case of Michael Flynn, the retired lieutenant general who spent less than a month as Donald Trump's national-security adviser. Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in connection with conversations he had with Russia's then-ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, between Trump's election and inauguration. One need not be an admirer of Flynn—and for many reasons I certainly am not—to be disturbed by how the FBI has handled this case.

One ought to be immediately suspicious whenever someone is charged with or pleads guilty to lying to the FBI without any underlying crime being charged. Former assistant U.S. attorney Andrew C. McCarthy points out:

When a prosecutor has a cooperator who was an accomplice in a major criminal scheme, the cooperator is made to plead guilty to the scheme. This is critical because it proves the existence of the scheme. In his guilty-plea allocution (the part of a plea proceeding in which the defendant admits what he did that makes him guilty), the accomplice explains the scheme and the actions taken by himself and his co-conspirators to carry it out. This goes a long way toward proving the case against all of the subjects of the investigation.

That is not happening in Flynn's situation. Instead, like [former Trump foreign-policy "adviser" George] Papadopoulos, he is being permitted to plead guilty to a mere process crime.

When the FBI questioned Flynn about his conversations with Kislyak, it already had the transcripts of those conversations—the government eavesdrops on the representatives of foreign governments, among others, and Flynn had been identified, or "unmasked," as the ambassador's conversation partner. The FBI could have simply told Flynn the transcripts contained evidence of a crime (assuming for the sake of argument they did) and charged him with violating the Logan Act or whatever else the FBI had in mind.

But that's not what happened. Instead, the FBI asked Flynn about his conversations with Kislyak, apparently to test him. If he lied (which would mean he's pretty stupid since he once ran the Defense Intelligence Agency and must have known about the transcripts!) or had a bad memory, he could have been charged with lying to the FBI.

As investigative reporter Robert Parry explains:

What is arguably most disturbing about this case is that then-National Security Adviser Flynn was pushed into a perjury trap by Obama administration holdovers at the Justice Department who concocted an unorthodox legal rationale for subjecting Flynn to an FBI interrogation four days after he took office, testing Flynn's recollection of the conversations while the FBI agents had transcripts of the calls intercepted by the National Security Agency.

In other words, the Justice Department wasn't seeking information about what Flynn said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak–the intelligence agencies already had that information. Instead, Flynn was being quizzed on his precise recollection of the conversations and nailed for lying when his recollections deviated from the transcripts.

For Americans who worry about how the pervasive surveillance powers of the U.S. government could be put to use criminalizing otherwise constitutionally protected speech and political associations, Flynn's prosecution represents a troubling precedent.

Why didn't the FBI charge Flynn with an underlying crime? It might be because his conversations with Kislyak were not criminal. McCarthy writes:

A breaking report from ABC News indicates that Flynn is prepared to testify that Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians—initially to lay the groundwork for mutual efforts against ISIS in Syria. That, however, is exactly the sort of thing the incoming national-security adviser is supposed to do in a transition phase between administrations. If it were part of the basis for a "collusion" case arising out of Russia's election meddling, then Flynn would not be pleading guilty to a process crime—he'd be pleading guilty to an espionage conspiracy.

David Stockman shows that the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller themselves indicate the Flynn-Kislyak conversations contained no evidence of criminal behavior.

Flynn spoke to Kislyak to ask that Russia not escalate tensions after President Obama imposed sanctions last December for the alleged election meddling and to ask that Russia not vote to condemn Israel, via a UN Security Council resolution, for its illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land. In other words, not only were Flynn's discussions with Kislyak unexceptional—presidential transition-team foreign-policy officials have spoken with representatives of other governments in the past—but the content of those discussions should have raised no suspicions. Would non-escalation of the sanctions controversy or a UN veto have undermined Obama's foreign policy? I don't see how. (True, the Obama administration abstained on the resolution, but would Obama have objected had Russia vetoed it? By the way, Russia voted for it, and the resolution passed, as it should have.)

The Flynn plea certainly does nothing to indicate "collusion" with the Russians. For one thing, the conversations were after the election. And perhaps more important, Kislyak was not looking for favors from Flynn; on the contrary, Flynn was lobbying the Russians (successfully on the sanctions—Vladimir Putin did not retaliate—and unsuccessfully on the UN resolution.) Where's the evidence of Russian influence on the Trump team? There was foreign influence, but it was from Israel, a regular meddler in the American political process. All indications are that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Trump son-in-law and special envoy to everywhere Jared Kushner to lobby the world to defeat the UN resolution. Kushner, who has helped finance illegal Israeli settlements, then directed Flynn to call every Security Council member, not just Russia.

What about the Logan Act? The Act, enacted in 1799, around the time of the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts, prohibits private citizens from unauthorized "correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."

Right off the bat, the Act appears to violate freedom of speech. And as Parry writes, "That law … was never intended to apply to incoming officials in the transition period between elected presidential administrations."

Note also that only two indictments have been brought in 218 years: in 1803 and 1852. Both cases were dropped. Far more serious contacts with foreign governments have occurred.

In 1968 Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon (with help from Henry Kissinger who was working in the Johnson administration) had a representative persuade the president of South Vietnam to boycott the peace talks President Lyndon Johnson had been arranging with North Vietnam. That decision most likely prolonged the Vietnam war and resulted in combat deaths that would not have occurred. Unlike the Flynn case, Nixon's action undercut the sitting president's policy and, more important, the interests of the American people.

I hold no brief for Flynn, whose conduct while working for Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan, his dubious efforts on behalf of Turkey's strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his apparent financial conflicts of interest are enough to make anyone cringe. But that cannot justify what the FBI did in this plea case.

Government law-enforcement agencies should not be allowed to administer credibility tests to Americans or others. If they have evidence of real offenses against persons and property, bring charges. Otherwise, leave us all alone.

This piece was originally published by The Libertarian Institute.

Photo Credit: Paul Hennessy/Polaris/Newscom

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  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    It would sure be interesting to get a peek into J. Edgar Hoover's archives and see what he had on Presidents and when. The later ones, after he had already been in power for years, are obvious: he had the State collecting all that info. But the early ones -- it would sure be interesting to see how he built his blackmail power up over the years.

    I figure FDR was not blackmailed, but his long stay in power gave Hoover all the time he needed to amass blackmail power over the subsequent Presidents.

  • Lee Russell||

    Sheldon doesn't know what evidence the FBI has against Flynn and it's speculative of him to presume they don't have evidence of other crimes. It's also very telling of his lack of impartiality which he doesn't make much of an effort to hide by ridiculously mischaracterizing the Russia investigation as "manufacturered". As to his effort to discredit Flynn's guilt I would say that the Russia investigation was as much a counter intelligence investigation as it was a typical crime investigation. Pursuing process crimes in an intelligence investigation is more appropriate then perhaps it would be in an everyday criminal probe because of the larger geo political and national interests involved. Obstructing and lying to the people who are trying to unravel a counter intelligence matter is criminal and unpatriotic. I also have very little sympathy for liars. If you can't tell the truth then don't say anything.

  • ALWAYS RIGHT||

    There never was any labeled crime to investigate. What we have is revenge for Trump winning an election that he wasn't supposed to win.

  • Sevo||

    "...It's also very telling of his lack of impartiality which he doesn't make much of an effort to hide by ridiculously mischaracterizing the Russia investigation as "manufacturered"....

    He was too kind to call it "bullshit", which is what it is.
    You lost, loser. It's been over a year. Grow up and get over it.
    You LOST.

  • Mitsima||

    Remember how after a year the birther claims had been played out and got boring with only the lunatic fringe left holding on to it for dear life? Welcome to your birther mo(ve)ment.

  • bacchys||

    Except #TrumpRussia has Trump officials lying about their contacts with Russian government officials and other agents of the Russian government.

    The "foundation" of birtherism was howling lunatics.

  • bacchys||

    Except #TrumpRussia has Trump officials lying about their contacts with Russian government officials and other agents of the Russian government.

    The "foundation" of birtherism was howling lunatics.

  • Bra Ket||

    Sheldon doesn't know what evidence the FBI has against Flynn...

    Or, worded another way: despite all the very-public investigating, no one knows of any evidence of a real crime the FBI has against Flynn. And if you read the article and considered its logic you'd know why this latest development makes Sheldon suspicious that they must not have any such evidence.

    And that would be why he is calling on them to actually charge someone with a real crime and present evidence if they have it. It all fits into a nice little self-contained package, without needing to be omniscient or pick a favorite side. He even threw in some Flynn-hating signals for you lefty witch hunters.

  • Lee Russell||

    Lying to the FBI with the intent to obstruct an intelligence investigation is a real crime and you shouldnt expect Mueller to consider your feelings when deciding how best to uncover the truth.

  • Cunty Over Party||

    How did his lie "obstruct" the investigation? From the stories I've seen, they knew he was lying when he did it.

  • Voxpo||

    Without getting too far into the weeds, I'd suggest that a) it's not just Flynn being investigated, so his lying could (perhaps intentionally) obstruct uncovering of real "underlying crimes" of others even if Flynn didn't commit any; b) if he lies about some things, it would seem he was willing to lie about others, which seems to me as important as the specific falsehoods investigators know of. You don't have to cause any actual damage to get arrested for reckless driving (moving process violation?).

  • HeteroPatriarch||

    Interesting. How do you feel about Clinton's perjury?

  • Presskh||

    She did lie. However, since Comey "conveniently" did not put her under oath or record her testimony, they had an excuse to not formally charge her. The FBI was used like the KGB under Obama's banana-republic administration and his cronies still there are using it the same way. Too bad Trump got duped into picking Sessions, who is either too inept or too crooked to clean up the mess at the Justice Dept., including the FBI.

  • Alsø alsø wik||

    Flynn was not under oath, nor was his testimony recorded. It's a crime simply to lie to the FBI. And they famously never record anything. So "lying" means an agent believes someone's contemporaneous account of something diverges from the agent's contemporaneous account of that contemporaneous account.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Mueller and his entire team are Clinton cronies. They will do noting to the Clintons. No matter what. Anyone connected to Trump is a target.

  • JoeBlow123||

    I can think of a good reason why he might have lied that has nothing to do with Russia collusion: he knew talking to the Russians might not look good to subvert the last gasps of the Obama foreign policy so he wanted it to go away. So he lied. Little did he know (probably should have since he was DIA head) he was already on record as an identified American talking to the Russians (supposedly we are not supposed to collect Americans, but who let's rules get in the way of politics?).

    Dude is still a scumbag and a liar, I just do not think he was some Putin puppet.

  • I can't even||

    1. Flynn was insane to agree to an FBI interview without a lawyer.

    2. it was Peter Strzok who conducted the interview, would be the primary witness against Flynn. Since he has now been thoroughly discredited, the FBI's case is pretty damn weak.

    3. Flynn hasn't changed his plea because Mueller has threatened to charge his son.

  • Alsø alsø wik||

    1) Yes. Except they ambushed him. They had already been meeting with Flynn routinely as a matter of normal security protocol for an incoming administration. Then one day, at what Flynn thought was just another routine meeting, they laid the perjury trap out of the blue. He didn't even realize he was being interviewed at the outset. It was shady beyond belief.

    2) Conveniently for the FBI, they leaked the news on Strzok literally the day after Flynn signed his plea deal. The deal should rightfully be thrown out since the FBI was withholding evidence that would impeach their entire case against Flynn.

    3) That's no doubt true, but they were also bankrupting him. He now has to sell his house. Most people would cop to a crime when that's the only way to make it stop. Flynn still maintains his innocence.

  • Hunthjof||

    Lets also remember that it seems the basis for this investigation going all the way back to 2016 was the Steele Dossier. So we basically have a campaign colluding with the DOJ and intel community to spy on an opposing campaign. Then when the current FBI director was confronted about this they pulled the "Oh it's classified" card so they don't have to answer for it. Some say Trump could force the FBI reveal the basis of the FISA warrants which some suspect was nothing but the Dossier polish and touched up to look like a valid intelligence document created by one of the agencies and not some opposition campaign research. If he tries that then they will go after him for obstruction of justice. This whole thing stinks to high heaven. I would say this is Nixonian but this is Rookie crap compared to him. I would say this is a script for a Hollywood movie but it is happening right in front of us. I didn't vote for Trump but this stuff scares the hell out of me.

  • Trollificus||

    Yeah, that's bullshit, Russell. If you don't know it, you're too stupid to listen to, and if you do, but persist in trying to get it to pass here, you're just a vile liar. I suppose you could be just so lacking in self-awareness that such slanted characterizations and faux-legalistic pleadings actually seem real to you, but that would just be a conflation of the other two possibilities.

  • bacchys||

    He's "suspicious" because he's a Trumpkin.

    It's an investigation. The Mueller Probe isn't blasting every shit they take over Twitter, unlike our President.

  • IceTrey||

    But wasn't it a consenual conversation so lying shouldn't be illegal.

  • Trollificus||

    :unable to perfectly remember a previous conversation" shouldn't be illegal either.

  • Hunthjof||

    Mr.Flynn you stated to our agent that on Friday December 12th 2003 you ordered two eggs scrambled, rye toast cottage fries and sausage patties. However we reviewed your bill and you had link sausage and sourdough toast. Clearly you lied to us and are hiding something so we are charging you for lying to us.

  • TimK||

    It is quite obviously manufactured. There's been 0 revelation of any election based collusion, only breached in unrelated technicalities. It's quite remarkable actually that it still goes on.

  • TimK||

    It is quite obviously manufactured. There's been 0 revelation of any election based collusion, only breached in unrelated technicalities. It's quite remarkable actually that it still goes on.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "One ought to be immediately suspicious whenever someone is charged with or pleads guilty to lying to the FBI without any underlying crime being charged."

    There's one screaming indication that Mueller has bupkis on Flynn that Richman didn't mention.

    If the prosecution is planning to use Flynn as a star witness, the very last crime Mueller would want Flynn to plead guilty to is lying. One of the jobs of a jury is to weigh the credibility of conflicting testimony, and once the jury knows that Flynn is such a liar that he's already plead guilty to lying, the credibility of his testimony becomes highly suspect.

    If Mueller had enough evidence to make Flynn plead guilty to anything but lying, he would have done that instead--because making Flynn plead guilty to lying undermines his own ability to use Flynn's testimony to prosecute anyone else. He wouldn't undermine the credibility of his star witness' testimony unless the alternative was bupkis.

    It looks like Mueller is desperate to show someone's scalp on his wall, just so he can justify the resources expended on this . . . um . . .fishing expedition. Look, I caught a fish!

  • Mitsima||

    If only there were penalties for fishing outside your license ...

  • Cunty Over Party||

    One of the jobs of a jury is to weigh the credibility of conflicting testimony, and once the jury knows that Flynn is such a liar that he's already plead guilty to lying, the credibility of his testimony becomes highly suspect.

    Not a problem at all. The judge in the trial where Flynn is testifying would just bar the defense from bringing up this guilty plea. Just like defense lawyers are barred from bringing up the rewards jailhouse snitches are given for their testimony.

  • Ken Shultz||

    But this isn't an unrelated matter. This isn't a former conviction in an unrelated case.

    He plead guilty to lying in the case in which he'd be testifying. He plead to lying to the FBI about communicating with the Russians. If he testifies about the president's communications with the Russians, the defense must be

    Having effectively plead guilty to perjury in the case that the jury is hearing can only be relevant.

  • Jerryskids||

    Flynn probably believed his own bullshit - "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear." That's what they tell us peons all the time, ain't it? Hoist by your own petard, asshole.

  • ALWAYS RIGHT||

    Flynn was a life-long suck-hole and collaborator. He should have told the FBI to come back with a subpoena. I would have said "go fuck yourself" and slammed the door in their face.

  • SIV||

    Fuck You, G-Man!

    Is the only answer

  • creech||

    A former FBI agent told me, a few nights ago, that he had put a person under oath only two or three times in his thirty year career with the Bureau. He said you'd be shocked at what people babble, how many lies they tell, and...how few the FBI actually pursues for lying. It's those who they want to "get" (prominent person, sleazy crook they can't catch otherwise) that they prosecute.

  • ALWAYS RIGHT||

    How many crime shows have you seen where the supposedly street-smart suspect answers police questions until his answers transform him from suspect to defendant?

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    It's so disappointing to see Reason downplay #TrumpRussia, which is a bigger scandal than Watergate. A foreign power hacked our country's most important election to install its preferred candidate, and rather than get angry at Putin and Trump, Reason criticizes the FBI for doing its job and trying to clean up the mess?

    Look, I voted for Hillary, but it's not personal bias convincing me #TrumpRussia is worth investigating. After all, the number crunchers at the Huffington Post gave Hillary a 98.2% chance of winning. She was supposed to get 323 electoral votes. Trump had "essentially no path to an Electoral College victory." Yet he somehow won in spite of the odds. That's a strong indication that something fishy happened. And Russian collusion is the most logical explanation.

  • SIV||

    B+

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    You pin your claims to reliability and impartiality on sourcing the HuffPo?

    Good move.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    No, not just Huffington Post. There were other professional statisticians whose rigorous mathematical models were so far off that some sinister forces must have influenced the outcome. Nate Silver, for example, "estimated Trump's chance of becoming the GOP nominee at 2 percent." This suggests Russian interference handed not only the election to Drumpf, but also the Republican nomination.

    And don't forget 2016's election data hero Sam Wang, who declared the race over in mid-October and promised to eat a bug if Drumpf exceeded 240 electoral votes. Again, this makes it virtually certain that Russian interference was worth at least 60 additional electoral votes.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Clearly, there is something sinister afoot.

    How else can one explain, despite the objective, unbiased facts, the rise of Die TrumpkenHitler?

    It just defies any objective analysis.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    The logic can only lead to one inescapable conclusion: RUSSIAN MEDDLING! I even heard they had a TV show that a handful of voters actually watched and had advertising on THE INTERNET that some voters may have been exposed to! In retrospect, all the pieces fit. There simply is no other explanation.

  • Jerryskids||

    Ummmm....... you know Trump was sent away to "military school" as a lad, don't you? It was obviously a Soviet brain-washing facility! This has been in the works since the '50's, and you thought The Manchurian Candidate was fiction.

  • epsilon given||

    Something sinister is indeed afoot. We call her "Hillary", and she refused to listen to certain States that pleaded for help, because she was confident she was going to win them.

    Although, to be fair, she herself has so many connections to Russia, it's not entirely out of the question that her Russian handlers told her to back off from those particular States, so that Trump could win...

  • XM||

    The models weren't off by that much, Trump won several battleground states by a relatively narrow margin.

    James Comey already testified that Russia essentially failed to influence the election in any meaningful way. They floated silly looking ads and someone connected to their government tried to reach voter registration info. They failed.

  • TimK||

    You will likely find the majority of those "rigorous" statisticians and pollsters WANTED Hillary to win. That is enough to bias a model.

  • Hunthjof||

    Some other things I read was what some called the pron voting factor. Some people in the polls didn't want to admit they were gonna vote for Trump but did anyways. I mean with the whole "vote for Hillary or your sexist" mantra the media was spewing may have made people say different to pollsters then they actually voted.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Hear hear!

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Um, when you read the methodology for the forecast, it says:

    We simulated a Nov. 8 election 10 million times using our state-by-state averages. In 9.8 million simulations, Hillary Clinton ended up with at least 270 electoral votes. Therefore, we say Clinton has a 98.0 percent chance of becoming president.
    ...
    We estimate the likely outcome in each state using publicly available polls in the HuffPost Pollster database. We use Pollster's Bayesian Kalman filter model to simulate 100,000 populations whose voting intentions correspond to the poll results. (We sample 5,000 of those simulations in our calculations, for speed.)

    Maybe the database of polls at HuffPost Pollster is not representative of the general population of America.

  • Nwallins||

    > We sample 5,000 of those simulations in our calculations, for speed.

    Gotta Go Fast!

  • Jerryskids||

    And Hillary thought Trump was shockingly, recklessly, dismissive of our sacred electoral process for not being willing prior to the election to declare the election legitimate. So is Hillary now shockingly reckless in saying the election was rigged, apparently easily and cheaply - almost casually - by her erstwhile bbf's in the Kremlin, right under our intelligence community's noses without them having a single clue that anything fishy was going on? At least willing to apologize to Trump for her reaction to his suggestion that the election might not be legitimate? Apologize to Mitt Romney for laughing at the idea that Russia was any kind of threat to the US? Apologize to the American people for the failure of the State Department under her leadership and her party's leadership to uncover any evidence of all this going on?

  • Presskh||

    Sorry open borders, unless the Russians actually changed voting tabulations, there was no collusion. And the biggest scandal since Watergate (far bigger, actually) was Hillary and her henchmen colluding with Russia to trade our uranium reserves for millions of $. This was done under the cover of the banana republic Obama administration and, had Hillary won, any records would have been "bleach-bitted" and lost forever.

  • TimK||

    The fishy thing that happened was that the polls and pundits were all heavily biased.

    I do data models, predictive analytics etc.. for the healthcare industry and back in August has the pleasure of meeting some counter parts in the political space, namely some folks at the Marist poll. I asked them if they had released any predictions yet (this was in August 2016) and they said yes, "Clinton by a landslide", winning 300+ electorals. The thing that caught me most was how gleeful and beaming they were over that "finding", the seemed very pleased it would be Clinton.

    In data science it's very very easy to bias a model, even inadvertently. Most folks don't realize the number of assumptions and transformations data goes through before predictions are made.

  • Trollificus||

    Oh openborders! Ooh! Oooh! Call on me! I have another answer!!

    The HuffPost was wrong. And are you familiar with Occam?

  • DajjaI||

    They all lied to the FBI about Kislyak. Why? Obviously they thought they would be in control of the IC by now and it wouldn't matter. This was the real conspiracy (not 'Russia hacked the election') and thus Mueller is in a bind. Because Flynn-Bannon was trying to instigate terror attacks (with or without Russia's help) and use that as a pretext to purge the 'incompetents' from the IC. But if Mueller exposes this then people will start to wonder what the hell those people really do all day.

  • Sevo||

    Tin foil hats are on special. Check aisle #6.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Any moment, Flynn will confess to treasonous colluding with Russia to ruin Hillary Clinton's coronation in an asssault against our democracy itself, all while pointing a finger directly at Trump.

    You just wait: truthiness demands it.

  • tgrondo||

    You are sooo right....and it will happen....Right Now! Ok....Right....Now!!!....Dang! Here it goes....Right Now!

    Ok....here we go.....Right....Now!!! ....Mere moments....Wait for it.........NOW!

    Well, crap!.......Ummm.....Now?.......How bout.....Right....Now!!!!......No?

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    That's how you know it's about to pop: the Reason it hasn't. Is because Russia.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    What about the FBI's history isn't disturbing?

  • Cunty Over Party||

    Elliot Ness was all right.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    I think he was with the treasury, not the FBI.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    I've bee wondering when someone at Reason would finally go on record and call this a manufactured crisis, as I've suspected from the beginning. Thanks Sheldon.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Ken White @ Popehat has said many times, Do Not Talk Without A Lawyer. Here's his latest, from Dec 4th, about this very affair"

    You, dear readers, know my advice about talking to the FBI: don't. If the FBI — or any law enforcement agency — asks to talk to you, say "No, I want to talk to my lawyer, I don't want to talk to you," and repeat as necessary. Do not talk to them "just to see what they want." Do not try to "set the facts straight." Do not try to outwit them. Do not explain that you have "nothing to hide."

    Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up.

    This advice is on my mind of late what with two former Trump folks — George Popadopouluos and Michael Flynn — pleading guilty to the federal crime of lying to the FBI.
  • MikeP2||

    Read the details. Flynn wasnt told he was going to be interviewed. Fbi said they were stopping by his office and gave no reason in advance. He didnt even know that it was an interview, or they were investigating him until well into the conversation. He had no lawyer present because he had no warning it was an official interview.
    The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

  • damikesc||

    I'd also have to ask that if the main person questioning you ends up being demoted due to ethical violations in office...where does that leave Flynn? I'm fairly sure a lawyer could get that tossed out due to the issues with the questioner.

  • Hunthjof||

    I had not heard this before however that makes it even more BS banana republic type crap.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    If they have evidence of real offenses against persons and property, bring charges.

    The plea agreement suggests the FBI did have evidence of real offenses.

  • Sifrit||

    I like how the author goes to great lengths to point out how stupid the assertion you're making is, and it didn't slow you down one bit.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Hear hear!

  • Shaboobie||

    "the FBI did have evidence of real offenses. "

    Which you could have posted and highlighted to make your point, but screeching "NUH UUUUHHHHHHHHH!!!!" like you did is another way to do it.

  • damikesc||

    The plea agreement suggests the FBI did have evidence of real offenses.

    A different recollection of a non-criminal conversation is not what anybody views as a crime.

    Scooter Libby ALSO got fucked over royally by a special prosecutor for basically the same thing.

  • NYer||

    " is the perception of the FBI as a friend of liberty and justice."

    Yeah I live in New England, I don't know a single Lefty who thinks this is true. It's more of a cognitive dissonance thing. They don't love or trust the FBI but they hate Trump more and the FBI is the tool they have to get Trump.

  • Trollificus||

    "ranking" instead of logic. Got it. Not dissimilar to how they decide ethical questions by Victimhood Points.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Sheldon Richman wrote:
    Kushner, who has helped finance illegal Israeli settlements, then directed Flynn to call every Security Council member, not just Russia.

    The linked to Newsweek article said:
    Jared Kushner failed to disclose his role as a co-director of the Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation from 2006 to 2015, a time when the group funded an Israeli settlement considered to be illegal under international law, on financial records he filed with the Office of Government Ethics earlier this year.
    ...
    The omission was first discovered by a team of researchers at American Bridge, a progressive research and communications organization, and shared exclusively with Newsweek on Friday afternoon. The researchers suggested Kushner's failure may have been more than an inadvertent mistake, but instead an attempt to avoid "potential conflicts with his job negotiating Middle East peace." Newsweek later independently confirmed Kushner's omission on his multiple financial disclosures.


    In other worlds, the settlements are considered illegal by the UN, which doesn't have the best track record for fairness towards Israel. The main allegation was failure to disclose involvement with a non-profit that helped Jews in Judea and Samaria. A Progressive non-profit did the legwork for Newsweek's reporting on the article that criticized Trump's allies.

  • The_Hoser||

    It's neat Newsweek had to identify American Bridge as "progressive." Do they often hire research and communications organizations that are "regressive?"

  • JoeBlow123||

    Judea and Samaria. Thanks for letting us all know which side of the fence you are on haha.

    I would assume you are probably not all that interested in fairness either or see much wrong with America pretty explicitly involving itself on the side of Team Israel routinely.

  • damikesc||

    I would assume you are probably not all that interested in fairness either or see much wrong with America pretty explicitly involving itself on the side of Team Israel routinely.

    Given how the world treats them, I'm glad we do that.

    The world is showing, as usual, that they REALLY do not like Jews. At all. Nor does the American Left.

    I love that America is the problem re Israel, not a UN that has decided to condemn hem many times more than any other country on the face of the Earth.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Israel gets boned pretty often but they also cause a huge amount of their own problems. That the US bails them out of.

    I think Trump has been schooled in Israeli politics: offend everyone as often as possible, even over the most minute issues, then act surprised why people don't like you.

  • damikesc||

    ...but when "Palestinians" fire rockets at them...the world doesn't seem offended.

    Doesn't that seem odd?

    Ill side with the free country over the shithole theocracy every time.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Palestine and Israel, remind me please where the letters USA are in there? Oh they are not? So why do I care about these rockets that are landing thousands of miles from my border?

  • damikesc||

    Palestine and Israel, remind me please where the letters USA are in there? Oh they are not? So why do I care about these rockets that are landing thousands of miles from my border?

    Well, you did comment "I think Trump has been schooled in Israeli politics: offend everyone as often as possible, even over the most minute issues, then act surprised why people don't like you."

    I just noted that the "Palestinian" rockets don't seem to offend many people.

    And your "I would assume you are probably not all that interested in fairness either or see much wrong with America pretty explicitly involving itself on the side of Team Israel routinely." comment is one I am proud of...since, again, "Palestinians" firing rockets at Israel doesn't seem to bother the world, so we're the only ones who will take their side.

    Quite bluntly, if Israel decided to kill every "Palestinian", they'd be acting like every other country on Earth with a terrorist group trying to overthrow them.

  • Trollificus||

    Why do I care? Well, the same reason if somebody broke into your house and killed your children hundreds of miles form my home. (you, your wife and your sainted granny too scary tough to go after) I'd surely say "Well, that was just wrong."

    However, since you're a Palestinian apologist, I wouldn't go much farther than that. Might even hope the moral congruence between the two situations would be so glaring you'd notice. If you want to make it more exact, go ahead and posit that the people who did it had been squatting in the back yard of the place you're living, for a long time, and felt this justified their action. See if that makes you more accepting.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Israelis are not my family. They are people that are part of another country that have their own geopolitical issues to grapple with. Their interest and ours do not automatically intersect.

    I am far from a Palestinian apologist, it is just not my fight. It is an Israeli-Palestinian issue, not an American one.

  • Hunthjof||

    "Palestine and Israel, remind me please where the letters USA are in there? Oh they are not? So why do I care about these rockets that are landing thousands of miles from my border?"

    Hmm how to put this in simple terms. Well maybe you might want to care cause they are A) Nuclear armed B) Threatened with annihilation by almost the entire Arab World C) Shown willingness to use A to stop B. By backing them as we do we also can keep them from turning several countries into glass factories. I would point out that any full scale war in that region would result in the closing of the Suez canal, significantly disrupt a third of the worlds oil reserves and make the Syrian Humanitarian crisis look like a minor inconvenience. By backing them as we do we prevent full scale war.

  • Cunty Over Party||

    Convicting someone of perjury requires not only proof that the defendant lied under oath, but also that the lie affected the outcome of the trial or other proceeding. We should have an analogous standard for the "lying to investigators" offense -- you can only be prosecuted for it if they can prove that your lies prevented or delayed the investigation from finding evidence of a crime.

  • MikeP2||

    You dont need to be under oath to be charged with lying to the fbi.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "Right off the bat, the Act appears to violate freedom of speech."

    FREE HANSSEN NOW

  • Voxpo||

    Said Flynn: "If I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth, a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today." Well, golly!

  • PlaystoomuchHALO||

    Law enforcement has never been anyone's "friend" - as a whole it despises the fact that it can't do whatever it wants and will run roughshod over your rights in a heartbeat.

  • AlgerHiss||

    Stop blowing smoke up the bums of these people with all of this "agent" and "special agent" nonsense. They are not "agents" in any real sense of the proper use of the term.

    They are government employees. Period. Yes, they have certain powers of arrest, but they are simply employees that get a freak'n paycheck, paid vacation and fill out time sheets.

  • tlapp||

    Flynn was always a target of the Obama administration and it's holdovers for publicly criticizing the Iran deal that pretends to be a treaty yet never voted upon by congress. The whole thing stinks.

  • Bacon-Magic glib reasonoid||

    Sheldon with a good article...
    *starts 2nd exit hole of bunker*

  • TimK||

    The elephant in the room, which everyone deep down really knows including those most hostile to Trump, is clearly he didn't collude with Russia and somehow cause an election upset. What the Mueller investigation really is, is a deep exploration to try to uncover anything untoward, unethical, or remotely illegal by anyone associated with Trump, all in hopes it will bring him down. It's a canard. I was disappointed to see Trump win too but at some point it's time to let it go and look forward to next election. This will likely come back to bite the dems similar to how the ridiculous Ken Starr investigation harmed the Repubs.

  • Ned Netterville||

    I get a kick out of congressional hearings wherein the heads of any of our "security" agencies are called to testify, and the congresscritters thank them for "their service," fawning over them as if they were heroes of the stature of Achilles. or Odysseus. In fact these spooks are trained in lying and deception, and the fact that the critters impute grave importance to their testimony is testimony to the utter stupidity of every crit who sits on a committee.

  • RonBPalmer||

    If powerful people at this level of politics are impotent in the face of prosecutorial power what hope do we as average citizens have. I can't foresee ever having a conversation with anyone at the FBI or any other federal agency where they have this level of power. I will simply decline any conversation and plead the fifth unless they give me absolute blanket immunity from lying to them.

    I also think it is absurd that the Supreme Court excludes lying from the First Amendment. I think there are a very many perfectly legitimate reasons to lie to any enforcement officer and that the principle of freedom demands that I be free to do so. The very name they go by "enforcement officer" sets up a confrontation where they are absolutely your enemy and they are absolutely looking to find you guilty of something. With the thousands of laws we now have it becomes impossible to know if one is violating a law at any given moment, therefore, to avoid the awesome investigatory power of the federal government I plead the fifth.

  • منتديات الصقع||

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