(CNSNews.com) - Former FBI Director James Comey, speaking to an appreciative audience in New York on Sunday, told NBC's Nicole Wallace that he sent two FBI agents to visit then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn at the White House on January 24, 2017, because he figured he could get away with it.
Wallace asked Comey: "You look at this White House now, and it's hard to imagine two FBI agents ending up in the State room. How did that happen?"
"I sent them," Comey replied. The audience laughed, and Comey continued:
Something we've -- I probably wouldn't have done or maybe gotten away with in a more organized investigation -- a more organized administration. In the George W. Bush administration, for example, or the Obama administration.
The protocol, two men that all of us perhaps have increased appreciation for over the last two years. (The audience applauded.)
And in both those administrations there was process. And so if the FBI wanted to send agents into the White House itself to interview a senior official, you would work through the White House Counsel and there'd be discussions and approvals and it would be there. And I thought, it's early enough, let's just send a couple of guys over.
And so we placed a call to Flynn, said, hey, we're sending a couple of guys over. Hope you'll talk to them. He said, sure. Nobody else was there. They interviewed him in a conference room in the Situation Room, and he lied to them. And that's what he's now pled guilty to.
“What did he think they were coming over there for?” Wallace asked Comey.
“I don't think he knew,” Comey replied. “I know we didn't tell him.”
The federal judge who will sentence Lt.-Gen. Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI has ordered the FBI to give him, by today, the notes written by the two FBI agents who interviewed Flynn in January 2017.
Judge Emmet Sullivan also wants to see a January 24 memo that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe wrote about his own telephone conversation with Flynn, a conversation that happened just two hours before the FBI agents arrived at Flynn's West Wing office.
This follows information in Flynn's sentencing memo to the court, which suggests that Flynn was deliberately set up:
The sentencing memo says at 12:35 p.m. on January 24, 2017, McCabe called Flynn at his West Wing office to discuss a security training session the FBI had recently conducted at the white House. McCabe's written memo detailing that phone conversation says McCabe told Flynn "that we needed to have two of our agents sit down" with Flynn to talk about his communications with Russian officials.
McCabe wrote: "I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between [General Flynn] and the agents only. I further stated that if LTG Flynn wished to include anyone else in the meeting, like the White House Counsel for instance, that I would need to involve the Department of Justice. [General Flynn] stated that this would not be necessary and agreed to meet with the agents without any additional participants.”
According to Flynn's sentencing memo:
Less than two hours later, at 2:15 p.m., FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok and a second FBI agent arrived at the White House to interview General Flynn. By the agents’ account, General Flynn was “relaxed and jocular” and offered to give the agents “a little tour” of the area around his West Wing office. The agents did not provide General Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. § 1001 before, during, or after the interview.
Prior to the FBI’s interview of General Flynn, Mr. McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport,” one of the agents reported.
Before the interview, FBI officials had also decided that, if “Flynn said he did not remember something they knew he said, they would use the exact words Flynn used…to try to refresh his recollection. If Flynn still would not confirm what he said…they would not confront him or talk him through it.” One of the agents reported that General Flynn was “unguarded” during the interview and “clearly saw the FBI agents as allies.”
Flynn has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI, and he's scheduled to be sentenced this coming Tuesday.