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In re Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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  1. Court Access

Case Number: 17-cr-232

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Client: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Application for Public Docketing of Court Records Filed: Oct. 1, 2020

Background: In May 2020, the FBI interviewed Bill Priestap, a former senior FBI counterintelligence official, shortly before the government moved to dismiss a case involving the prosecution of President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, for allegedly making false statements concerning his conversations with a representative of a foreign power about affairs of state.

The interview reportedly covered Priestap’s understanding of the FBI’s motivations in interviewing Gen. Flynn on Jan. 24, 2017 — the encounter that ultimately led to the false statement charge against him. Priestap also authored the handwritten notes that the government and defense seized on to claim that there was concern at the FBI, at the time of the 2017 Flynn interview, that it was a “perjury trap.”

The FBI form memorializing the 2020 Priestap interview has not been made public in the proceeding, despite both the government and defense producing reams of new discovery material. The New York Times reported that Priestap contradicted the government’s and defense’s characterization of his handwritten notes in the case.

Reporters Committee attorneys filed an application seeking the public docketing of the official report memorializing the FBI’s interview with Priestap.

Quote: “[T]he press and public have a powerful interest in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of both the [Office of Special Counsel’s] decision to charge Defendant and the government’s decision to abandon the case.”

Update: On Nov. 25, 2020, President Trump pardoned Flynn, and the court dismissed the case against him as moot. The court has not taken action on the Reporters Committee’s application.

Filings: 

2020-10-01: Application for the public docketing of court records

2020-10-01: Memorandum in support of application for the public docketing of court records

2020-10-01: Exhibit A to application