Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley is asking the FBI and Justice Department to cough up documents from the FBI’s January 2017 interview of former national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House.
This comes a week after it was revealed that former FBI director James Comey’s recollections about the interview conflict with the unredacted House Intelligence report on Russian meddling in the 2017 election. Comey’s version of events also conflicts with records from Comey’s March 2017 briefing with the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Congressional records show that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn saw no signs of deception in his answers. Comey, however, in recent interviews out on his book tour, maintains that he said no such thing.
On Friday, Grassley sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Director Wray demanding that they produce the 302s documenting the FBI agents’ interviews with Flynn, as well as supporting documents, including the agents’ notes, to settle the dispute.
Grassley letter to Rosenstein & Wray asking for documents related to the FBI's actual assessments of their interview of Flynn, particularly given the apparent contradiction between what Comey told the Committee in March 2017 and what he now claims.https://t.co/L8p6uvGEKp pic.twitter.com/05F7q4Mnu6
— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) May 11, 2018
Grassley is also requesting the transcription of the phone call(s) intercepted between Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and testimony from a new player in the “collusion delusion” saga — Special Agent Joe Pientk, who is apparently the FBI agent who interviewed Flynn with Special Agent Peter Strzok. Until now, Pientk’s name has been a closely guarded secret.
Flynn was fired after he was found to have not been forthcoming to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of a December 2016 conversation with Russian Ambassador Kislyak, in which U.S. sanctions against Russia were discussed.
Previously the Justice Department was refusing to provide any information to the committee pertinent to Grassley’s requests, citing the ongoing investigation. However, the senator is now outlining his request against the backdrop of the judge in the Flynn case demanding the special counsel turn over all exculpatory information.
In his letter, Senator Grassley described the March 15, 2017, briefing provided by James Comey to the committee:
[…] Like the Flynn interview itself, that briefing was not transcribed. Also like the Flynn interview, there are notes taken by a career, non-partisan law enforcement officer who was present. The agent was on detail to the Committee staff at the time.
According to that agent’s contemporaneous notes, Director Comey specifically told us during that briefing that the FBI agents who interviewed Lt. General Michael Flynn, “saw nothing that led them to believe [he was] lying.” Our own Committee staff’s notes indicate that Mr. Comey said the “agents saw no change in his demeanor or tone that would say he was being untruthful.”
Contrary to his public statements during his current book tour denying any memory of those comments, then-Director Comey led us to believe during that briefing that the agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe he intentionally lied about his conversation with the Ambassador and that the Justice Department was unlikely to prosecute him for false statements made in that interview. In the months since then, the Special Counsel obtained a guilty plea from Lt. General Flynn for that precise alleged conduct.
The letter continues:
[…] The Department has withheld the Flynn-related documents since our initial bipartisan request last year, citing an ongoing criminal investigation. With Flynn’s plea, the investigation appears concluded.
Additionally, while we are aware that the Special Counsel’s office has moved to delay Lt. General Flynn’s sentencing on several occasions, we presume that all related records already have been provided to the defense pursuant to Judge Sullivan’s February 16, 2018 order requiring production of all potentially exculpatory material. Thus, although the case is not yet adjudicated, the Committee’s oversight interest in the underlying documents requested more than a year ago now outweighs any legitimate executive branch interest in withholding it. So too does the Committee’s interest in learning the FBI agents’ actual assessments of their interview of Lt. Gen. Flynn, particularly given the apparent contradiction between what then Directory Comey told us in March 2017 and what he now claims.
Grassley gave the Justice Department and FBI a deadline of May 25 to produce the documents and also asked for Special Agent Joe Pientka to be available for a transcribed interview with the committee no later than June 1.