On Tuesday morning, ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden what he knew about the prosecution of retired General Mike Flynn, a former national security advisor for President Donald Trump. Attorney General William Barr dropped the case against Flynn last week amid mounting evidence of a “perjury trap” against him. Flynn’s lawyer also claimed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team threatened to prosecute the general’s son if he did not plead guilty to making false statements.
According to The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, reporting on newly released documents, it appears the prosecution of Flynn was part of an effort to cover up the collusion investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign. Hemingway zeroed in on a meeting involving key intelligence officials, then-President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden on January 5, 2017. During this meeting, intelligence officials debated whether or not to brief Trump’s team about the Trump-Russia investigation.
Biden’s presence at the meeting raised serious concerns about what the vice president knew about Flynn’s prosecution. As Stephanopoulos noted, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) took to the Senate floor asking, “What did Obama and Biden know and when did they know it?”
So on Tuesday, Stephanopoulos asked Biden, “What did you know about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn?”
“I knew nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn, number one. Number two, this is all about diversion,” the former vice president responded. Referring to Trump, Biden said, “This is a game this guy plays all the time… he should stop always trying to divert attention” from the real crisis.
Yet the ABC News anchor did not let Biden off the hook that easy.
“I do want to press that. You said you didn’t know anything about it, but you were reported to be at a January 5, 2017 meeting where you and the president were briefed on the FBI’s plan to question Michael Flynn over those conversations he had with Russian Ambassador [Sergey] Kislyak,” Stephanopoulos pressed.
Flustered, the former vice president back-tracked.
“I thought you asked me whether or not I had anything to do with him being prosecuted. I’m sorry. I was aware that they asked for an investigation. But that’s all I know about it,” Biden insisted. He then returned to form. “Think about this. Can you imagine any other president of the United States focusing on this at the moment when the country is just absolutely concerned about their health?”
Biden managed to confirm that he knew about the plan to question Flynn but he appeared utterly defensive about the subject — only confirming his knowledge when Stephanopoulos dismantled his superficial denial by referring to a meeting Biden could not deny having attended. Then Biden rushed to change the subject while accusing Trump of trying to divert attention from key issues.
Biden is correct that the coronavirus crisis is the major threat Americans face right now. However, the revelations about Flynn’s entrapment and the unraveling Trump-Russia collusion narrative is also an important story, not one that can be easily dismissed as a Trump diversion. Stephanopoulos appeared to understand that, but Joe Biden refused to answer his serious questions.
Biden’s defensiveness on Flynn only raises further questions about his role in the weaponization of the Intelligence Community against a sitting president. The Democrat did not deny being present in that crucial January 2017 meeting, but he refused to say anything about it. What is he hiding?
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 12, 2020
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.