U.S. Justice Dept. to drop case against former NSA Flynn

‘His contact with Russian envoy was entirely appropriate’

Published - May 08, 2020 10:41 pm IST

 Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) will drop its case against former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn as per a court filing. Mr. Flynn who had pleaded guilty in a case related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections was awaiting sentencing. Critics called the move further evidence of the politization of the Justice Department.

Mr. Flynn should have never been interviewed by the FBI to start with as his contacts with then Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, were “ entirely appropriate,” the Justice Department said in a court filing on Thursday, according to the Associated Press which first reported the story.

Also read: Five things to know about Michael Flynn

Mr. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December 2017 and then cooperated with Mr. Mueller’s probe, faced time in prison and sought to withdraw his plea after firing his original lawyers.

The DoJ has been conducting a review of its handling of the case. Last week, Mr. Flynn’s lawyers released notes from the FBI’s internal deliberations on how to handle Mr Flynn.

"What's our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?" then Counterintelligence Director Bill Priestap had written as per the released documents.

“If we’re seen as playing games, WH [White House] will be furious. Protect our institution by not playing games.” Mr Priestap wrote.

While supporters of Mr. Flynn, including Mr. Trump, jumped on the released documents and cried foul play, commentators have said strategizing about investigative strategy is standard FBI procedure.

“ He was an innocent man,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Thursday, adding that Mr. Flynn was targeted in order to take down a president (Mr. Trump).

“And I hope a lot of people are going to pay a big price because they’re dishonest, crooked people. They’re scum,” Mr Trump said referring to the Obama administration Justice Department. Mr Trump had repeatedly criticized the case against the three-star general.

“Attorney General Barr’s politicization of justice knows no bounds,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, adding that Mr. Barr’s Justice Department was trying to cover up for Mr. Trump.

This is not the first time Mr Barr has faced such allegations. In February, more than 1,100 former DoJ officials had called on Mr Barr to resign for his “ interference in the fair administration of justice,” because department officials had sought to reduce the sentencing recommendation of MrTrump’s friend, Roger Stone.

House Intelligence Committee Chair, Jerrold Nadler, called the Department’s move “outrageous” and said that Mr. Barr would be called by the House to testify.

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