By Lukas Mikelionis
Published December 14, 2018
President Trump insisted on Thursday that his former national security adviser Michael Flynn didn’t lie to the FBI and it was Special Counsel Robert Mueller who pushed the charge.
The president briefly spoke about Flynn at a White House meeting with governors-elect, where he suggested the FBI never accused Flynn of lying as part of its probe into the alleged collusion between Russia's government and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Well, the FBI said Michael Flynn, a general and a great person, they said he didn’t lie,” Trump said at the meeting.
“And Mueller said: ‘Well, maybe he did.’ And now they’re all having a big dispute, so I think it’s a great thing that the judge is looking into that situation. It’s an honor for a lot of terrific people.”
"Well the FBI said Michael Flynn, a general and a great person, they said he didn’t lie. And Mueller said: ‘Well, maybe he did.’ And now they’re all having a big dispute, so I think it’s a great thing that the judge is looking into that situation."
The former national security adviser is scheduled to be sentenced next week after pleading guilty last year to making false statements to the FBI in connection with the Russia probe. He would become the first White House official sentenced as part of Mueller’s probe.
But Trump’s comment came amid U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan request on Wednesday for documents related to quotations included in a sentencing memo from Flynn’s defense team. Mueller and his team have until 3 p.m. ET Friday to produce the sensitive FBI documents.
The request followed Flynn legal team’s bombshell allegation that then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe pushed Flynn not to have an attorney present during the questioning that ultimately led to his guilty plea on a single charge of lying to federal authorities.
The document claims the FBI was more aggressive in handling the Jan. 24, 2017, Flynn interview than it did during other similar matters such as the interviews with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or ex-Trump adviser George Papadopoulos.
The legal team also notes that, unlike other defendants in the Russia investigation, Flynn wasn’t warned in advance that it was a crime to lie to the FBI and that the FBI officials involved in his interview have since been accused of misconduct and ousted from the agency.
FBI agent Peter Strzok, who interviewed Flynn, was fired after his anti-Trump text messages between him and another FBI official, Lisa Page, were revealed. McCabe, meanwhile, was fired after the Justice Department determined he lacked candor and was involved in a media leak.
Trump’s claim that Flynn didn’t lie to the FBI appear to resemble a report issued by Republicans on the House intelligence committee, saying that former FBI Director James Comey said Flynn “discerned no physical indications of deception” and saw “nothing that indicated to them that he knew he was lying to them,” according to FBI agents.
Comey has since recanted from the description, saying last week that though FBI agents didn’t witness “none of the common indicia of lying — physical manifestations, changes in tone, changes in pace,” the FBI “concluded he was lying.”