What’s the story?
- The Associated Press reports that per court documents filed Thursday, the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) is dropping the charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn “after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information.”
- That recently disclosed information included a handwritten note written by a senior Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) official that described the law enforcement agency’s deliberations about the purpose of an interview conducted with Flynn on January 24, 2017:
“What’s our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
- Other documents show that weeks prior to the interview, the FBI was preparing to drop its counterintelligence probe into whether Flynn was compromised by Russia because of the "absence of any derogatory information", but that it was kept open at the urging of Peter Strzok.
- After their counterintelligence investigation into Flynn on national security grounds yielded "no derogatory information", the FBI considered using the Logan Act, a law enacted in 1799 to prevent unauthorized negotiations with foreign governments by U.S. citizens, to keep the probe open. The DOJ's motion to dismiss Flynn's charges notes that the Logan Act has only been used in two recorded indictments in its history, neither of which yielded a conviction, and no Logan Act charges were ever filed.
- James Comey, FBI director at the time of the Flynn interview, said in December 2019 that, “I sent them ― something we, I probably wouldn’t have done or gotten away with in a more organized... administration.”
- The DOJ's review of the new documents concluded that the FBI’s interview of Flynn was “untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn” and that the interview was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.” Because the FBI's investigation no longer had a proper predicate at the time of Flynn's interview, his statements are immaterial according to the DOJ's motion.
- Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney who has been reviewing the Flynn case, said that the review led him to conclude that the “proper and just course was to dismiss the case,” which will still require the approval of the presiding judge.
Who is Michael Flynn?
- Flynn, 61, is a retired Army lieutenant general who served in the Obama administration from 2012-2014 as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
- After Donald Trump’s electoral victory in 2016 and amid speculation that Flynn would be appointed to a position in his administration, President Barack Obama warned Trump against the appointment.
- He was appointed as National Security Adviser on January 23, 2017, but on February 13, 2017, Flynn resigned after it emerged that he misled FBI officials and Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition about sanctions.
- Flynn admitted that he lied about those conversations and during three years since his resignation, pleaded guilty to charges that he made false statements, and cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He has since sought to withdraw the guilty plea, citing evidence that was only provided by the DOJ.
- There had been speculation that President Trump would pardon Flynn, but the DOJ dropping the charges is an even more favorable outcome for Flynn that renders his need for a pardon moot.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia/Flickr / Creative Commons)
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