In a newly admitted “mistake” the defense has decried as “appalling,” the attorneys prosecuting former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn have been forced to admit this week that they “misidentified” the sources of the FBI notes upon which the case against Flynn has been based.
The notes on the conversation with Flynn that the prosecutors believed were written by anti-Trump agent Peter Strzok, the prosecutors admitted in a letter Tuesday, were in fact written by his partner, Joe Pientka. The admission further calls into question Strzok’s credibility, as he had insisted that Pientka was “primarily responsible” for taking the notes and writing the key document in the case, the FD-302 form. The admission also follows the defense’s accusation that the FBI deliberately altered the original 302 form to suggest Flynn had lied about his contact with a Russian ambassador
As reported by National Review‘s Tobias Hoonhout on Wednesday, in a letter sent to Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell, the Justice Department prosecuting attorneys were forced to admit that they had been misidentifying the sources of the notes on the FBI’s January 2017 interview with Flynn for the entirety of the case, some 18 months.
Since the FBI does not record its interviews, such notes stand in place of an official transcript. The notes incorrectly believed to have been taken by Strzok formed the basis of the official FBI document on the interview.
“We were informed that the notes we had identified as Peter Strzok’s, were actually the other agent’s notes (see Surreply, Exhibit 1), and what we had identified as the other agent’s notes were in fact Strzok’s notes (see Surreply, Exibit 2),” the prosecutors admitted to Powell in the letter.
New letter to the Court from DOJ on the Flynn case.
They misidentified the FBI agents’ notes. 🤦♂️
Strzok’s notes are really Pientka’s notes, and Pientka’s notes are really Strzok’s notes. pic.twitter.com/9eTBZrymv9
— Techno Fog (@Techno_Fog) November 5, 2019
“The FBI’s admission calls into further question the credibility of the case and of former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who told the FBI that his partner Joe Pientka was ‘primarily responsible for taking notes and writing the FD-302,” Hoonhout writes.
“In defending Flynn, Powell has argued that Strzok’s supposed notes were too orderly and well constructed to have been taken in the actual interview,” he explains. “Now the letter, coupled with prosecution’s release of notes last week, apparently reveal that Strzok, in fact, took the majority of the notes in the interview.”
Strzok has become a central figure in multiple cases, as he led the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s unsecured and unapproved private email server and was initially a member of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigative team before being removed after evidence of his overtly anti-Trump bias came to light.
Powell recently accused the FBI of tampering with the Flynn 302 document to suggest that Flynn lied about his contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“Those changes added an unequivocal statement that ‘Flynn stated he did not’ — in response to whether Mr. Flynn had asked Kislyak to vote in a certain manner or slow down the UN vote [on sanctions],” Powell alleged in a 37-page motion two weeks ago. “This is a deceptive manipulation because, as the notes of the agents show, Mr. Flynn was not even sure he had spoken to Russia/Kislyak on the issue. He had talked to dozens of countries.”
“That question and answer does not appear in the notes, yet it was made into a criminal offense,” Powell stated. “The draft also shows that the agents moved a sentence to make it seem to be an answer to a question it was not.”
As National Review explains, the admission by prosecutors about confusing the source of the case’s key document was prompted by Powell demanding that the FBI search its “Sentinel Database” for all drafts of the 302 to show if any significant alterations had been made. Flynn’s texts with his paramour FBI lawyer Lisa Page revealed that he admitted to making changes to the 302 with her help on the same day that news broke that Flynn had talked about sanctions with Kislyak. The reports cited “senior intelligence officials” as the source of the claim.