DOJ moves to drop Michael Flynn prosecution despite guilty plea; Trump had tweeted support
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Photo from Shutterstock.com.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion Thursday to dismiss the criminal case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn after a review by a federal prosecutor appointed by U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
The motion to dismiss said the government determined after an extensive review that the prosecution would not serve the interests of justice.
Flynn had pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI regarding his interactions with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.
The interview had occurred in January 2017 during an investigation into whether Flynn was an agent of a foreign power or acting under the influence of Russia.
Flynn sought to withdraw the plea in January 2020 after prosecutors sought a six-month sentence.
The government motion said the crime of making false statements requires that the statements be “materially false” to the matter under investigation, and that standard wasn’t satisfied.
“The government is not persuaded that the Jan. 24, 2017 interview was conducted with a legitimate investigative basis and therefore does not believe Mr. Flynn’s statements were material even if untrue,” the motion said.
President Donald Trump had recently tweeted his support of Flynn, saying the case against him was “outrageous.”
The lead prosecutor in the case, Brandon Van Grack, withdrew from the case shortly before the motion was filed. The only prosecutor’s name on the filing was Timothy Shea, the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., and a former aide to Barr.
Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney in Missouri, had reviewed the prosecution for Barr and recommended dismissal.
During the review, the DOJ turned over internal emails and notes to Flynn’s lawyers, who said the materials showed an intention to frame their client, according to previous coverage by the Associated Press.
One page of notes from an FBI official appeared to summarize an internal debate about how the interview should proceed. “What’s our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” the official wrote.
The notes also said, “If we’re seen as playing games, WH will be furious. Protect our institution by not playing games.”
The materials also included a redacted internal memo, dated before the interview, that said the government was closing the investigation. About two weeks later, Peter Strzok, an FBI agent, told a colleague to please “keep it open for now.”
Strzok was later fired after his anti-Trump emails came to light.
The federal judge overseeing Flynn’s case had rejected defense arguments in December.