By Petr Svab
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ), FBI, and others, alleging he was maliciously prosecuted. He is demanding at least $50 million in compensation.
“Defendant maliciously investigated and prosecuted General Flynn by initiating and continuing a baseless counterintelligence investigation and by filing a criminal information lacking probable cause,” says the suit, filed on March 3 with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (pdf).
The former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under the Obama administration was investigated by the FBI starting in August 2016 for supposed ties to Russia. In 2017, he was charged with lying to the FBI during an interview earlier that year.
The suit alleges that the FBI, and later prosecutors from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, investigated and prosecuted him for political reasons, considering him a threat.
“General Flynn—who already had a reputation as a hands-on disruptor at DIA, who had publicly excoriated the politicization of the intelligence community, and who had made clear his desire to overhaul the national security structure and the ‘interagency process’—was a direct threat, not only to the self-interest of entrenched intelligence bureaucracies and the federal officials involved, but to exposing their prior and ongoing efforts to derail and discredit President Trump,” the suit says.
The case against Flynn was riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies. FBI agents had already decided to close his case by early January 2017, but higher-ups intervened to keep it open on the justification that Flynn may have violated an obscure and antiquated law called the Logan Act by discussing with a Russian ambassador the priorities of the incoming administration during the transition period. DOJ officials at the time rejected the legal theory. The 1799 Logan Act, which prohibits certain kinds of unauthorized diplomacy, may in fact be unconstitutional, several lawyers previously told The Epoch Times. It has never been successfully prosecuted, much less aimed at an incoming national security adviser.
The Flynn investigation, codenamed Crossfire Razor, continued “only because of Defendant’s agents and agencies’ malicious, partisan, and unethical intent to investigate their political opponents generally and to destroy General Flynn specifically,” the suit says.
Subsequent leaks to the media claimed that he may have violated the Logan Act by talking with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, about sanctions imposed at the time on Russia by the outgoing Obama administration.
FBI top brass then meticulously prepared and arranged the interview to appear as “an informal meeting, just to put the Kislyak calls being discussed in the press to bed,” the suit says.
On Jan. 24, 2017, when two FBI agents interviewed Flynn, they asked him whether he talked with Kislyak about expulsions of Russian diplomats. He said no, which was not the truth. When asked again, he said he didn’t remember.
This exchange then formed the core of the charge brought against Flynn by Mueller, who took over his case in May 2017.
Flynn initially pleaded guilty to the charge, but later withdrew the plea, saying he did not intentionally lie and entered the plea because he was misled by his lawyers and because the prosecutors threatened they’d go after his son.
Indeed, the first lawyer team noted in internal emails that they received an informal affirmation from the prosecutors that Flynn’s son would be left alone if he signed the plea.
The DOJ dropped the charge in 2020, after then-Attorney General William Barr ordered an outside prosecutor to review the case. Then-head of the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney’s Office Timothy Shea concluded that it seemed the FBI’s purpose for interviewing Flynn was to “elicit … false statements and thereby criminalize Mr. Flynn.”
The judge overseeing the case refused to dismiss the charges until Trump ultimately pardoned Flynn in 2020.
Aside from the malicious prosecution, Flynn’s suit alleges the government abused the legal process by coercing Flynn into a plea by threatening prosecution of his son as well as by targeting him with baseless investigation and charges.
“As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s actions, General Flynn suffered harm,” the suit says.
“He was falsely branded as a traitor to his country, lost at least tens of millions of dollars of business opportunities and future lifetime earning potential, was maliciously prosecuted and spent substantial monies in his own defense, and has suffered and will continue to suffer mental and emotional pain for the rest of his life, in addition to other pecuniary harms such as costs, fees, attorneys’ fees, and other losses.”
It argues that ruling in Flynn’s favor would not only bring justice to him but also put the government on a path “back to public trust.”
“Punitive damages are not only warranted but essential to deter any present or future … official from harming anyone else like they harmed General Flynn,” it says.