Anatomy of a Right-Wing Meme

Michael Flynn Jr. issued an interesting tweet yesterday.

And of course that cryptic message started a conversation.

This Ken Hendricks guy only has eight followers and he’s only made a total of 73 tweets, so the chances are not bad that he’s some kind of troll or bot. It’s not really curious that he would post that Flynn is a genius and a patriot but the idea that the FBI said he had not lied to them is weird.

It’s an actual meme on the right that was generated fairly recently, and it is based on testimony that was provided to congressional committees. You can read a write-up of the controversy here. Basically, the agents who interviewed Michael Flynn on January 24, 2017 did not report that Flynn demonstrated any obvious signs of deception. In other words, he appeared to be honest in his responses.

The only problem with that is the FBI knew with certainty that he was lying because they had transcripts and an audio file of the conversations that Flynn had had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and what Flynn was telling them did not conform with what was in the records.

The majority report also quoted from a briefing given by Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe on Dec. 19, 2017, after Flynn pleaded guilty: The “conundrum that we faced on their return from the interview is that although [the agents] didn’t detect deception in the statements that he made in the interview … the statements were inconsistent with our understanding of the conversation that he had actually had with the ambassador.” McCabe added, “The two people who interviewed [Flynn] didn’t think he was lying, [which] was not [a] great beginning of a false statement case.”

Two days after the interview, Sally Yates contacted Don McGahn, the White House counsel and requested a meeting. She informed McGahn that Flynn had been lying and that it appeared that Vice President Mike Pence was relying on Flynn’s lies to mislead the public.

It’s easy to see how this got all discombobulated. The statement by FBI Director Christopher Wray makes it sound like the agents thought Flynn was being truthful, but they actually knew with a certainty that he was not. That’s why there was delay in informing Don McGahn about the fact that Flynn had been dishonest and was now subject to Russian blackmail.

As for actually charging Flynn with making false statements, it’s true that it would have been helpful if the interviewing agents could have testified that he seemed evasive or dishonest, but he was eventually charged and pled guilty because the tapes provided all the evidence that was really required.

In any case, it’s a total distortion to suggest that “the FBI” ever said that Flynn had not lied to them. What actually happened is that two agents reported that he appeared to be truthful.  And then less than 48 hours later the Department of Justice was in the White House counsel’s office saying that Flynn had been lying and was compromised.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.