President Donald Trump was led to believe his newly appointed national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, was not under investigation when he fired him last year, according to legal memos sent by Trump’s lawyers to special counsel Robert Mueller.
The issue is significant because then-FBI Director James Comey later accused Trump of pushing him to close an investigation of Flynn by saying to him: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
The White House stated Comey’s account was “not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation.”
But however the conversation went, the memos make clear Trump was given very different information about Flynn’s situation than Comey.
The confidential memos were leaked to The New York Times, which published them on June 2. The memos provide some details that had not previously been released.
On Jan. 24, 2017, only four days after Trump’s inauguration, two FBI agents, one of whom was special agent Joe Pientka, visited Flynn at the White House and asked to speak with him.
“Agents saw no change in demeanor or tone that would say he was being untruthful,” according to notes taken by the Senate judiciary committee, which questioned Comey about the Flynn interview in March last year. Comey then denied making the statement.
On Jan. 26, 2017, Yates came to McGahn saying “that Flynn may have made false representations to others in the administration regarding the content of the calls”; “that Flynn’s potentially false statements could make him susceptible to foreign influence or blackmail because the Russians would know he had lied”; and “that Flynn’s statements to the FBI were similar to those she understood he had made to Spicer and the vice president,” according to McGahn’s memo dated Feb. 15, 2017, quoted in the leaked legal memos.
But based on what Trump knew at the time, Flynn’s case was already over. The DOJ wouldn’t say if Flynn was investigated or not, but, according to Flynn, the FBI closed the case. He was even allowed to keep his security clearance.
“For all intents, purposes, and appearances, the FBI had accepted Flynn’s account; concluded that he was confused but truthful; decided not to investigate him further; and let him retain his clearance,” one of the legal memos states.