Flynn documents are the 'smoking gun' on Comey's FBI

Had the Department of Justice (DOJ) released the newly disclosed documents related to Gen. Michael Flynn three years ago, instead of fired FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGraham postpones Russia probe subpoena vote as tensions boil over GOP votes to give chairman authority to subpoena Obama officials GOP chairmen stake out turf in Obama-era probes MORE improperly leaking his “memos” on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Barr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters MORE, there definitely would have been a special counsel — only it would have been investigating the FBI for gross abuse of power, not the Trump administration.

The new documents are in effect the “smoking gun” proving that a cabal at the FBI acted above the law and with extreme political bias, targeting people for prosecution rather than investigating crimes.

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz found 17 violations of policy and procedure in the initiation of the investigation of Trump’s campaign. Former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s report found no evidence of any Trump-Russia collusion. And yet much of the media coverage of all this has been so riddled with bias that, in a recent poll, 53 percent still believe Trump colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 presidential election.

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Let’s remember how this all started: The principal evidence that prompted the FBI to open the overall investigation into Trump has been definitively determined to be the Steele dossier. We now know, based on recently disclosed footnotes in the Horowitz report, that the dossier was discredited by its own sources and may even have been deliberate Russian disinformation. After receiving this information, the FBI’s top brass — even after learning that the dossier was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden: Probably '10 to 15 percent' of Americans 'are just not very good people' Mattis's Trump broadside underscores military tensions Mark Cuban says he's decided not to run for president MORE campaign — opened a broad investigation into Trump and his campaign.

Michael Flynn was targeted for investigation not on the basis of any evidence but simply because he had contacts with the Russian government — something that I would hope would be true of any incoming national security adviser. Those also targeted included former Trump campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortTrump taps Lewandowski, Bossie for Commission on Presidential Scholars Harris, Jeffries question why Manafort, Cohen released while others remain in prison Cohen released from federal prison to home confinement due to coronavirus concerns MORE, campaign adviser Carter Page and Trump’s personal attorney Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenDemocrats aim to amend Graham subpoena to include Trump allies Harris, Jeffries question why Manafort, Cohen released while others remain in prison Rosenstein to testify as part of Graham's Russia investigation probe MORE. The new documents reveal that, despite a thorough investigation of Flynn, there was no evidence suggesting he was a Russian agent — again, not surprising that it turned out this decorated general was not a Manchurian candidate. One FBI memo just released recommended closing the investigation of Flynn on Jan. 4, 2017, because FBI agents found “no derogatory information.”

But then-FBI agent Peter Strzok intervened with the idea that the never-used Logan Act could be invoked against Flynn; Strzok was cheered on by then-FBI attorney Lisa Page. All this led to a meeting at the highest levels of the FBI that included the director and the FBI’s head of counterintelligence, who took copious notes. It is in these notes that he reflected the discussion that took place about Flynn, writing, “Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute or get him fired.” No constructional protections were afforded Flynn, who was even advised by the FBI not to bring a lawyer when he was questioned by agents.

Let’s be candid — Flynn had been cleared of being a Russian agent on Jan. 4, 2017; there was never any evidence he should have been investigated in the first place. Yet now, because the investigation had not been officially closed, FBI officials cooked up a plan to try to create a crime that did not exist. They unmasked the private conversations of Flynn with the Russian ambassador that contained nothing illegal, so the only chance to “get” Flynn was by setting a perjury trap. This was then all picked up by special counsel Mueller’s team, who threatened Flynn with the possible lobbying transgressions of his son.

Why were they desperate to get Flynn fired or prosecuted when there was no evidence whatsoever that he committed a crime? Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy suggests they needed to get him out of the way of their investigation. I think it is more likely that they simply wanted to get their targets at all costs and sustain their investigation to bring down the administration. Clear prosecutorial abuses were committed against all of the defendants, none of whom were ever charged with colluding with the Russians. Manafort was hit with tax evasion, Stone with lying to Congress about his contacts with a conspiracy theorist. Cohen pleaded to financial and election law crimes. Carter Page escaped prosecution, even after an FBI lawyer faked emails from the CIA to continue unconstitutional surveillance of him.

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This was an investigation without foundation that systematically persecuted people at all costs. And the Mueller investigation was honorable only in the sense that the investigators had to admit there never was any evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.

It is all coming out now, but it is way too late. Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBarr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters The failure of the other police officers to stop George Floyd's killing may be the biggest challenge 18 state attorneys general request authority to investigate local police MORE seems to see this all very clearly, but the time to act with tough indictments is truly now, with the release of these explosive documents. The actions in the Flynn case provide the link between the Strzok-Lisa Page texts about “insurance policies” against Trump’s election and actions that were indefensible on every level; they show how the two of them acted in concert to extend their political prejudices to the department’s actions against people who were in no way colluding with Russia. It did not matter to these FBI officials, who acted as though they were above the law: They would get their targets and drag the country through years of a meritless investigation and a false political debate.

Mark PennMark PennThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden leads Trump by 6 points in new poll Biden leads Trump by 6 points as voters sour on pandemic response: poll Poll: Two-thirds of voters say the economy is on the wrong track MORE is a managing partner of the Stagwell Group, a global organization of digital-first marketing companies, as well as chairman of the Harris Poll and author of “Microtrends Squared.” He also is CEO of MDC Partners, an advertising and marketing firm. He served as pollster and adviser to former President Clinton from 1995 to 2000, including during Clinton’s impeachment. You can follow him on Twitter @Mark_Penn.