When the Department of Justice (DOJ) finally dropped the case against General Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser for President Donald Trump, House Democrats slammed the decision as a partisan attempt to “cover up” for Trump — presumably on Russia. While Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, presented evidence suggesting Flynn was “set up by corrupt agents” who threatened his son in order to pressure him into pleading guilty, Democrats insisted that the DOJ’s decision to drop the case will “incriminate Bill Barr.”
“Attorney General Barr’s politicization of justice knows no bounds,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators in the face of overwhelming evidence – but now, Attorney General Barr’s Justice Department is dropping the case to continue to cover up for the President.”
“Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his illicit Russian contacts,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tweeted. “His lies do not now become truths. This dismissal does not exonerate him. But it does incriminate Bill Barr. In the worst politicization of the Justice Department in its history.”
Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his illicit Russian contacts.
His lies do not now become truths.
This dismissal does not exonerate him.
But it does incriminate Bill Barr.
In the worst politicization of the Justice Department in its history.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 7, 2020
“This is outrageous! Flynn PLEADED GUILTY to lying to investigators,” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) chimed in. “The evidence against him is overwhelming. Now, a politicized DOJ is dropping the case. The decision to overrule the special counsel is without precedent and warrants an immediate explanation.”
Nadler insisted that he went easy on Bill Barr due to the coronavirus crisis, but now he will have to put his foot down because of this “outrageous” move. “Due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, I worked with DOJ to postpone our scheduled hearing with AG Barr as attentions and resources appropriately went to responding to the pandemic. But rest assured, we are going to reschedule that hearing, ASAP, and demand answers!” he added.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, I worked with DOJ to postpone our scheduled hearing with AG Barr as attentions and resources appropriately went to responding to the pandemic. But rest assured, we are going to reschedule that hearing, ASAP, and demand answers! 2/2 https://t.co/OywQR41khM
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) May 7, 2020
All this pretend outrage is disgraceful because Flynn’s exoneration represents the restoration of justice, not the perversion of it.
As Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, put it, then-FBI Director James “Comey et al sought to create a crime in the absence of any evidence of criminal conduct. The case has now collapsed and represents one of the most ignoble moments for [former Special Counsel Robert] Mueller. The Justice Department did the right thing in seeking this dismissal. The new evidence not only undermined the legitimacy of the prosecution but the Justice Department itself. For those blinded by this age of rage, the abuse has been ignored and even defended.”
The Justice Department did the right thing in seeking this dismissal. The new evidence not only undermined the legitimacy of the prosecution but the Justice Department itself. For those blinded by this age of rage, the abuse has been ignored and even defended.This is long overdue
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) May 7, 2020
Whatever Americans think about the Trump-Russia investigation, they should be able to acknowledge that Flynn was abused.
As National Review‘s Andrew C. McCarthy, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, explained, Powell’s evidence seemed to confirm not just that Flynn had been set up but that Mueller’s staff had threatened to target his son unless he confessed to the false statements charge.
“As I’ve noted several times over the years, it has long been speculated that Flynn — though he did not believe he was guilty (and though the agents who interviewed him also did not believe he had intentionally misled them) — nevertheless pled guilty to false-statements charges because prosecutors from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s staff threatened him,” McCarthy wrote. “Specifically, Flynn is said to have been warned that, if he refused to plead guilty, prosecutors would charge his son with a felony for failing to register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent. Such a so-called FARA violation (Foreign Agent Registration Act) is a crime that the DOJ almost never charged before the Mueller investigation, and it had dubious application to Flynn’s son (who worked for Flynn’s private-intelligence firm).”
“Well, Powell now contends that the new disclosures demonstrate that Mueller’s prosecutors — she specifically cites Brandon Van Grack, who now runs Justice’s FARA unit — did indeed promise Flynn that they would not charge his son if Flynn pled guilty. Worse, Powell avers that the prosecutors coerced Flynn and his counsel to keep this agreement secret. That is, this was to be a side deal that would not be written into the plea agreement and therefore would be kept from the court and the public,” McCarthy added.
“Under federal law, all understandings that are relevant to a guilty plea must be disclosed to the judge. It would be not merely a serious ethical breach for government lawyers to fail to reveal such an arrangement. It would be a fraud on the court.”
McCarthy also made the argument that the DOJ cited in dropping the case against Flynn. “There was no good-faith basis for an investigation of General Flynn. Under federal law, a false statement made to investigators is not actionable unless it is material. That means it must be pertinent to a matter that is properly under investigation,” the former U.S. Attorney wrote. “If the FBI did not have a legitimate investigative basis to interview Flynn, then that fact should have been disclosed as exculpatory information. It would have enabled his counsel to argue that any inaccurate statements he made were immaterial.”
Flynn pled guilty to making false statements in a January 24, 2017 interview about communications he had with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the U.S., during the transition from President Obama to President Trump. It is entirely proper for an incoming national security adviser to meet with an ambassador, and the idea that these communications somehow violated the Logan Act — which forbids private interference in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy — is absurd.
Later revelations even suggested the FBI set a “perjury trap” for Flynn.
Do Democrats really want to defend the propriety of a prosecution that seemingly involved a perjury trap, proceeded on absurd pretenses, and allegedly procured a guilty plea by threatening a man’s son with prosecution? Americans should remember their support for this in November.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.