Gen. Mike Flynn caught in FBI ‘obstruction trap’ accepts plea deal from Mueller

Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, discusses global threats during the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, July 26, 2014. (DoD photo by Claudette Roulo)

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who for less than a month was President Donald J. Trump’s national security advisor, issued a statement today regarding his decision to accept a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III in exchange for Mueller not bringing other charges:

After over 33 years of military service to our country, including nearly five years in combat away from my family, and then my decision to continue to serve the United States, it has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of ‘treason’ and other outrageous acts. Such false accusations are contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for. But I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right. My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s Office reflects a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions.

Flynn is another victim of what law enforcement officers call an “obstruction trap,” when he was not forthcoming during a conversation with FBI agents.

Typically, the FBI agents approach a target and ask if the target would agree to a voluntary interview. These conversations are held without an attorney present and the target does not realize that he is in fact in legal jeopardy if he is not completely forthcoming when he answers an agent’s questions. In fact, if the target is not forthcoming or misleads an agent, he is then vulnerable to an obstruction of justice charge.

In the case of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the senior staffer to Vice President Richard B. Cheney gave an account of his involvement in putting CIA officer Victoria Plame’s name in the press that contradicted accounts others gave to FBI agents. Libby was convicted of misleading the agents and President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s sentence, but did not pardon him.

It is important to note that before the FBI met with Libby, investigators already knew the culprit who gave Plame’s name to columnist Robert D. Novak.

As a result of his conviction, Libby lost his law license, but that license was restored in 2016, because the circumstances surrounding of Libby’s conviction were so unfair to him.

The other individual to accept a plea deal from Mueller was George Papadopoulos, who also fell into an obstruction trap set by FBI agents Jan. 27, nearly five months before Mueller was appointed.

FBI agents trapped Papadopoulos three days after FBI agents trapped Flynn, when they asked him about his interactions with the Russians.

At the time, the acting Attorney General Sally Yates was a holdover from President Barack Obama’s administration, who was told immediately that Flynn had not told the FBI agents the whole truth. Yates and the FBI agents knew to ask Flynn about his conversations with the Russians because his conversations were recorded by the Obama administration.

The leader of the FBI was still James B. Comey Jr., who is an old friend of then-New Jersey Gov. Christopher J. Christie, going back to their days as U.S. attorneys at abutting districts, Comey in the District of Southern New York and Christie in the District of New Jersey, for President George W. Bush.

Christie and Flynn were rivals inside the Trump presidential campaign and the two men had a loud argument during one of candidate Trump’s intelligence briefings in September.

During his time preparing for the Trump administration during the campaign and until he was relieved shortly after the election, Christie deliberately kept Flynn’s name off of any potential positions in a Trump administration and in May he told reporters in Trenton he warned Trump about dealing with Flynn.

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