Without seeking permission from the Justice Department or White House counsel, as protocols require, the FBI’s then-director, James Comey, directed agents to interview Flynn at the White House in his first full day as national-security adviser. The FBI’s then-deputy director, Andrew McCabe, softened up Flynn by urging him not to alert the White House or retain counsel. The interviewing agents, including the since-terminated Peter Strzok, schemed not to give the bureau’s standard warnings about the nature of the interview and the fact that false statement could result in prosecution. Though the interviewing agents had recordings of Flynn’s Kislyak conversations, they did not share those with Flynn to refresh his recollection; their clear purpose was to induce inaccurate statements that could be used as a basis for Flynn’s firing and/or prosecution.

Flynn, of course, was fired for giving Vice President Pence an inaccurate account of his conversations with Kislyak (it’s hard to know in retrospect how much of this was a genuine misunderstanding and how much calculated dishonesty on Flynn’s part). But even the Comey FBI did not press for Flynn’s prosecution because the agents did not believe he lied. Months later, Mueller’s team of aggressive prosecutors, many of them activist Democrats and former Obama DOJ officials, turned up the pressure on Flynn to plead guilty — and the recently disclosed paper record shows that this included signaling to Flynn that his son (who worked for the Flynn intelligence firm) could be prosecuted for FARA violations.