Michael Flynn’s lawyers said newly uncovered notes from former FBI official Peter Strzok indicate then-FBI Director James Comey appeared to downplay Flynn’s calls during the presidential transition with Russia’s ambassador as “legit” during a meeting where then-President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden also weighed in.
The handwritten notes, purportedly penned by Strzok, were submitted by Flynn’s legal team on Wednesday as part of his court case, after acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia shared them with his attorneys.
Sherwin told Flynn attorneys Sidney Powell and Jesse Binnall on Tuesday that the notes were found as part of the Justice Department’s review of the Flynn case and that they were “taken by former Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.”
“While the page itself is undated; we believe that the notes were taken in early January 2017, possibly between January 3 and January 5,” Sherwin wrote Tuesday.
On Wednesday, after a federal appeals court ordered Flynn’s case be dismissed, Powell filed the notes and claimed they produced “further stunning and exculpatory evidence” that was previously withheld from Flynn.
Powell wrote that the notes show that “Director Comey himself and the highest levels of the Obama Administration had the transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls with officials of other countries and knew General Flynn’s calls were lawful and proper.”
“Strzok’s notes believed to be of January 4, 2017, reveal that former President Obama, James Comey, Sally Yates, Joe Biden, and apparently Susan Rice discussed the transcripts of Flynn’s calls and how to proceed against him,” Powell wrote. “Mr. Obama himself directed that ‘the right people’ investigate General Flynn.”
She added: “This caused former FBI Director Comey to acknowledge the obvious: General Flynn’s phone calls with Ambassador Kislyak ‘appear legit.’”
Powell also wrote that according to the notes “it appears that Vice President Biden personally raised the idea of the Logan Act.”
“That became an admitted pretext to investigate General Flynn,” she added.
Flynn’s legal team attached the notes — a rough, handwritten document which at points is difficult to read and partially redacted and also includes shorthand. The lawyers also submitted their own typed transcription of those notes.
The transcription assumes that in Strzok’s shorthand, “D” represents Director Comey, “VP” represents Vice President Biden, and “P” represents President Obama.
The notes state: “VP: ‘Logan Act,’ P: These are unusual times. VP: I’ve been on intel committee for ten years and I never. P: Make sure you look over things and have the right people on it. P: Is there anything I shouldn’t be telling the transition team? D: Flynn-> Kislyak calls but appear legit.”
It is not clear if the notes were intended to say what Flynn’s lawyers interpreted in their filing. But they essentially argue that Comey described Flynn’s calls with Russia’s ambassador which formed the basis for his fateful interview with the FBI as “legit.” Further, they say the notes show Obama telling them to put the “right people” on the issue, and Biden himself raising the possibility of the “Logan Act,” possible violations of which were cited in bringing Flynn in for the FBI interview.
Biden has previously gone back and forth about what he knew of the Flynn investigation during the transition period.
Last month, in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Biden said he was “aware” at the time of the investigation.
“I know nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn,” Biden initially said, calling the topic a “diversion” from the coronavirus pandemic.
When pressed on whether he attended an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 5, 2017, where Flynn was discussed, Biden said that he was “aware that there was—that they asked for an investigation, but that’s all I know about it and I don’t think anything else.”
Meanwhile, the transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were declassified and made public by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. The transcripts detailed the discussions that would later lead to Flynn’s FBI interview and subsequent charges.
The documents include a key Dec. 29, 2016, conversation in which Flynn repeatedly urged Russia not to dramatically escalate tensions in response to sanctions imposed by the outgoing Obama Administration over election interference.
It has been known that Flynn made such appeals to Russia during the transition period ever since the FBI pressed him for details about that discussion in early 2017. Flynn pleaded guilty in December of that year to a single count of lying to investigators.
Since that charge, Flynn has fought to withdraw his plea and the Justice Department eventually moved to drop the prosecution entirely, maintaining that the FBI’s interview was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”
Flynn was supposedly scrutinized at the time for potentially violating the Logan Act, an obscure law dealing with conversations with foreign adversaries–which Flynn’s legal team now claims was floated by Biden.
But Flynn’s allies have long maintained that his conversations were legitimate and he was lured into a “perjury trap” by the FBI.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Wednesday ordered a lower court to allow the case against Flynn to be dismissed, as requested by the Justice Department — likely ending the yearslong legal saga stemming from the Russia investigation.
Fox News’ Alexander Hooper contributed to this report.
Author: Brooke Singman