Justice Department dismisses case against Michael Flynn
Updated: May 22, 2020
On Thursday, the Department of Justice said it will drop all charges against retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former member of the Trump administration who worked during the transition period between presidents.
Flynn pleaded guilty on two separate occasions to lying to federal investigators in 2016. Since his guilty plea in 2017, he has cooperated with investigators. However, notes published last week revealed that an interview Flynn participated in "was not conducted with legitimate investigative basis," according to federal prosecutors. Flynn has since tried to withdraw his plea.
The Justice Department published notes showed agents discussing their motivations for interviewing Flynn in the Russia probe, deliberating whether or not they wanted to "get him to lie" so he would be fired or prosecuted, or get him to admit wrongdoing. Flynn did not admit to wrongdoing, but did lie about his contacts with the then-Russian ambassador.
"Continued prosecution of this case would not serve the interests of justice," prosecutors said. "The government concluded that the interview of Mr. Flynn was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn."
Attorney General William Barr said of the case that "a crime cannot be established here. They did not have a basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn."
President Trump's attorney, Jay Sekulow, said that "justice has been served."
"The actions of the Special Counsel against General Flynn were outrageous," he said. "Bob Mueller should be ashamed of the conduct of his agents and lawyers during the Special Counsel investigation."
Former President Obama was knowledgeable of the investigation into Flynn, apparently surprising then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, according to documents released Thursday by the DOJ.
Obama had personally warned the Trump administration against hiring Flynn and made it clear that he was "not a fan" of Flynn. Obama had fired Flynn as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014.
Following an Oval Office meeting with then-FBI Director James Comey, Sally Yates, and others, Obama asked Comey and Yates to "stay behind," saying he had "learned of the information about Flynn."
According to the report, Obama specified that he did not want additional information on the matter, but wanted to know if the White House should be treating Flynn differently, given the information. The report reads that "Yates had no idea what the president was talking about, but figured it out based on the conversation. Yates recalled Comey mentioning the Logan Act."
The Logan Act was intended to prevent individuals from falsely claiming to represent the U.S. government abroad, but was enacted in 1799 and has never been successfully used in a criminal prosecution. In its dismissal of the case, the DOJ noted that the law is an unserious dead letter.
Flynn was later probed about a conversation the FBI already had a full transcript of that cleared Flynn of any wrongdoing, but the FBI still attempted to entrap Flynn in order to obtain false statements from him.