Why the Justice Department Dropped the Michael Flynn Case

Yeah, our utterly corrupt Justice Department just dropped the Michael Flynn case.

The Justice Department moved Thursday to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts during the presidential transition.

The unraveling of Flynn’s guilty plea marked a stunning reversal by the Justice Department in the case of the former three-star Army general, who was convicted in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In court documents filed Thursday, the Justice Department said “after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information… the government has concluded that [Flynn’s interview by the FBI] was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn” and that the interview on January 24, 2017 was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”

I guess we should have seen this coming. Lying scumbag and faux attorney general William Barr has been making noises about how the entire investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 election was just a witch hunt perpetrated by “deep state” operatives opposed to Donald Trump. Well, he didn’t say that exactly, but he was hinting at it loudly.

Barr has been investigating the Russian investigation for nearly a year now, at Donald Trump’s request. This is from May 24, 2019:

President Trump has handed Attorney General William Barr the keys to the vault.

Trump has authorized Barr to “declassify, downgrade, or direct the declassification or downgrading of information or intelligence” related to the origins of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, according to an official order.

The White House says that will mean he can be freer to reveal wrongdoing if he finds it. Democrats call it a bid to scare up political “weapons.”

The memo signaled how much Trump wants Barr to not only go ahead with the efforts he has discussed to review the early period of the inquiry — and officials’ use of the law and their investigative powers — but to also get what Barr uncovers out into the open quickly.

The argument has been that the entire Russian interference investigation was not lawful because whatever warrants or authorities being used to conduct it were obtained under false pretenses. The Steele dossier gets dragged into this part of the claim a lot.

Apparently Barr wasn’t finding anything resembling a smoking gun. Then a few days ago some new FBI documents breathed some life into the conspiracy theories. Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes wrote at Lawfare a week ago:

Why the sudden interest in the Golden Oldies of the Trump scandals? The reason is the release of some documents from inside the FBI dealing with Flynn’s original interview by agents from the bureau, back from the period when the Trump administration was just coming into power. Flynn’s sentencing on his guilty plea for lying in that interview has been serially delayed. According to some commentators, the documents supposedly show that he was somehow set up, framed or entrapped. A lot of people seem to be expecting his sudden vindication. And a lot more people, some of whom should know better, seem remarkably credulous of Flynn’s new claims.

They should take a deep breath.

The president may well pardon Flynn, as he has long hinted. It’s possible—though for reasons we’ll explain, we think unlikely—that Judge Emmet G. Sullivan will allow Flynn to withdraw his plea. And it’s possible as well that Attorney General William Barr, who has already intervened in the case once before and has asked a U.S. attorney to review its handling, will intervene once again on Flynn’s behalf.

So far, however, nothing has emerged that remotely clears Flynn; nothing has emerged that would require Sullivan to allow him to withdraw his plea; and nothing has emerged that would justify the Justice Department’s backing off of the case—or prosecuting it aggressively if Flynn were somehow allowed out of the very generous deal Special Counsel Robert Mueller cut him.

Jurecic and Wittes go into detail about things going on with Flynn and FBI documents and whatnot that I’m still digesting myself.  Lots of names that will be familiar from the days of the Mueller Report come up. Although there’s not much to the newly released documents, my guess is that Barr is dropping the case to give the appearance that this is some significant new evidence showing that the entire Russian interference story was a hoax.

See also Trump says new FBI notes exonerate Michael Flynn, analysts say that’s not the case.

I’m sure there will be more commentary on this as the day goes on.