Opinion

Russia-Gate: The Robert Mueller Probe and Its Threat to Our Liberties

As you know, there have been several highly publicized arrests, convictions, and guilty pleas in the ongoing probe into Russian interference in our election process. In fact, the Russia-gate prosecutors took the head of ex-National Security Advisor Lt. Gen Michael Flynn. The charge? Lying to the FBI. Then in February of this year, 13 Russian citizens were indicted. Here is why this is a serious problem.

Russia-gate proponents were absolutely thrilled when President Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn submitted a guilty plea for lying to the FBI. But this entire investigation should alarm all true civil libertarians and lovers of freedom. Why? Because the due process of law has been thrown right out the window.

Take the guilty plea of Flynn as just one example. Arguably the most egregious case to date. What is most disturbing about this case is how the then-national security advisor was railroaded into a perjury trap by Obama acolyte holdovers in the Justice Department. The agents of Obama—I mean the Justice Department—created an unorthodox (if not outright illegal) rationale for calling in Flynn for an FBI interrogation just four days after he took office.

So how did they orchestrate it?

Flynn was a marked man the moment he accepted the job of national security advisor. Don’t forget, in the summer of 2016, Democrats were seething over Flynn’s participation in chants at the Republican National Convention to “lock her up!” Of course, he was referring to Hillary Clinton.

President Trump’s one-time national security advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. (Credit: Facebook/Fox News)

So then, just four short days into the Trump presidency, then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, (an Obama holdover), sets up the Flynn perjury trap by coming up with a novel legal (although some would argue illegal) theory that Flynn was violating the 1799 Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from interfering with U.S. foreign policy. In case you were wondering, yes, this is the same Sally Yates that was fired from her position as I discussed in my previous article: Bill Priestap and the James Comey Entanglement

But wait a minute, Flynn was the national security advisor-designate at the time of his late-December phone calls with Sergey Kislyak, the Ambassador of Russia to the United States. One could argue that he was not a private citizen at the time of the call. So how could he be in violation of the Logan Act?

Further, consider the law was passed during President John Adams’ administration in the era of the Alien and Sedition Acts. This law was never intended to apply to incoming officials in the transition period between elected presidential administrations.  And, in the past 218 years, the law has resulted in no successful prosecution at all—it is dubious constitutionality and has never been adjudicated.

Bottom Line: Yates’ legal theory is so elasticized and speculative that it could be used to justify subjecting almost anyone to FBI interrogation, simply by declaring the knowledge that their imperfect memories would guarantee the grounds for prosecution based on NSA intercepts of their communications. And to hell with your right against unreasonable search and seizure or freedom of speech. As far as these Obama acolytes are concerned, your Bill of Rights is a triviality to be circumvented.

Former Acting US Attorney General Sally Yates. (Credit: Facebook/Obvious Magazine)

Subjecting the national security advisor to an FBI interrogation over the contents of his conversations, while the FBI agents had actual transcripts of the calls (that were intercepted by the NSA), is ludicrous. First of all, under what authority did they intercept those calls? Let alone record them and create transcripts. If you have ever been in an “interrogation,” you know that it is only a matter of time before you make a mistake.

In other words, the Justice Department had no interest in discovering information or evidence about what Flynn said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The fact is, the FBI and the NSA already had that information.

No, Flynn was being interrogated on his “precise recollection of the conversation. When his memory failed, he was nailed and crucified for “lying to federal investigators,” simply because his recollection deviated from the actual transcripts.

So, if you are a freedom-loving American and are worried about how the pervasive surveillance powers of our intelligence agencies can be used against you to criminalize otherwise constitutionally protected speech…this case is the poster child for your worry. Unarguably, it sets a chilling precedent. Don’t think for a minute that this precedent wasn’t expanded—it is now being used with chilling effect.

George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in 2017 to one count of making false statements to investigating FBI agents, according to court documents. Papadopoulos was a foreign policy advisor for Trump’s campaign.

Alex van der Zwaan, an attorney, pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about Gates in the Russia inquiry. In April 2018, he was sentenced to 30 days in prison, making him the first to be sentenced in the investigation.

But it gets worse.

The two-page complaint against Flynn, made public on Friday, references false statements to the FBI regarding two conversations with Kislyak, one on December 22, 2016 and the other on December 29, 2016.

The first item in the complaint alleges that Flynn did not disclose that he had asked the Russian ambassador to help delay or defeat a United Nations Security Council vote censuring Israel for building settlements on Palestinian territory.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Russia-gate investigators “learned through witnesses and documents that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Trump transition team to lobby other countries to help Israel, according to two people briefed on the inquiry.

“Investigators have learned that Mr. Flynn and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, took the lead in those efforts. Mr. Mueller’s team has emails that show Mr. Flynn saying he would work to kill the vote, the people briefed on the matter said,” according to the Times.

Breaking with past U.S. precedents, then-President Obama had decided not to veto the resolution criticizing Israel, choosing instead to abstain. However, the censure resolution carried with Russian support, meaning that whatever lobbying Flynn and Kushner undertook was unsuccessful.

(Credit: Facebook/Anthony Freda Studio)

But the inclusion of this Israeli element shows how far afield the criminal Russia-gate investigation, headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, has gone. And if that was not enough, we are now dealing with Stormy Daniels and a violation of attorney-client privilege with the raid on the home and offices of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Even famed legal expert Alan Dershowits chimed in: “I want to issue a challenge to him right now. I challenge special counsel Mueller to cite the statute or the case or the source or any legal information that would make collusion or colluding with Russia a crime. He is not going to be able to find it. There isn’t a case.

“Special counsels have a lot of power, attorney generals have a lot of power…but they do not include making up a crime. Only Congress can enact criminal statutes. Without a statute making collusion a crime, a special counsel can’t magically create a new crime where there is no crime. Collusion is simply not a crime.”

As much as the Russia-gate enthusiasts talk about how they are upholding “the rule of law,” the reality is they are breaking it and then remolding it to their own devices against their political enemies.

Bottom Line: Mueller is on a fishing expedition hoping to trap Trump in the very same web as Flynn, Papadopoulos, and Zwaan. My recommendation: tell Mueller to take a flying leap. We’re not talking.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Rene Sotolongo

Rene is an OpsLens contributor and retired Navy Information Systems Technician Chief Petty Officer.

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