BUTLER COUNTY, IOWA (April 28, 2020) — Senator Charles "Chuck" Grassley (R-IA), a senior member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is calling on the Justice Department to grant access to newly-disclosed material related to the FBI’s handling of its case against Lt Gen Michael Flynn. The high-profile case has prompted questions about the investigative and legal tactics used against Lt Gen Flynn.
“Simply stated, after years of rampant speculation and publicly-reported inconsistencies regarding how the FBI handled the case, it’s time for the public to know the full set of facts relating to Lt Gen Flynn, including any and all government misconduct,” Sen Grassley wrote in a letter requesting DOJ to unseal the records. At a minimum, Sen Grassley urged that it be made available for congressional oversight.
In December 2018, Lt Gen Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators during a January 2017 interview regarding his contacts with Russians. However, Lt Gen Flynn has since claimed that he was pressured into pleading guilty and was poorly represented by his former legal team. The new material, which Lt Gen Flynn’s attorneys have characterized as “exculpatory,” was relayed by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri, which was recently tasked with reviewing DOJ’s and FBI’s handling of the case. It’s currently shielded from disclosure by a protective order.
Sen Grassley first sought details surrounding Lt Gen Flynn’s 2016 contacts with the Russian ambassador in a joint letter with Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in February of 2017. Sen Grassley, then Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, delayed confirmation of Deputy Attorney General nominee Rod Rosenstein in order to secure the requested briefing, which he and Sen Feinstein received on March 15, 2017. In that briefing, then-FBI Director James Comey told the senators that he saw no evidence that Lt Gen Flynn had lied to investigators, a point he later reiterated to the House Intelligence Committee. Comey also testified that he did not believe DOJ would charge Lt Gen Flynn.
In August of that year, Sen Grassley called on the Defense Intelligence Agency to declassify information he had reviewed because it “would be in the public interest, and is in the interest of fairness to Lt Gen Flynn.”
In a series of exchanges in 2018, Sen Grassley urged DOJ to produce a transcript of Lt Gen Flynn’s phone call with the Russian ambassador and records summarizing the FBI’s interview with Flynn, which was conducted, in part, by Peter Strzok, and occurred without a lawyer present. Comey later bragged that he and then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe ignored the FBI’s interview-protocol for high-level White House officials. Strzok was eventually removed from the investigation after his text messages revealed biases against the Trump presidency. The Department rejected the request on the grounds that the public record in the Lt Gen Flynn case was sufficient. Later, Deputy AG Rosenstein met with Sen Grassley and suggested that Congress should be satisfied with the facts described in the plea agreement.
The newly-disclosed material suggests that the FBI and DOJ may have possessed additional so-called “Brady material” that undermines its case against Flynn — material that should have been made available to his legal team prior to his plea-deal. Text of Sen Grassley’s request for transparency enclosed herein, and a timeline of prior correspondence follows at bottom.
February 15, 2017: Grassley, Feinstein Seek Briefing Following Flynn Resignation
August 25, 2017: Grassley to DNI: Declassify Flynn Material
May 29, 2018: DOJ Declines May 11, 2018 Request