Former Trump adviser Michael Flynn charged with lying to abandoned FBI

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Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pictured in 2018

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Reuters

The United States Department of Justice is about to drop the criminal charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn was among the former Trump collaborators convicted in the special council’s investigation into Russian electoral interference.

He pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about contact with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

The news that the case will be closed comes as Flynn has sought to withdraw his plea.

The Justice Department’s decision also follows criticism of the case by President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Flynn, a retired three-star lieutenant-general, left the White House in February 2017.

Trump said he was “very happy for General Flynn” on Thursday.

Why is the file abandoned?

In a file first filed by the Associated Press, the Department of Justice said it had decided to close the case “after careful consideration of all the facts and circumstances of the case, including the information newly discovered and disclosed. “

The department said the interview between the investigators and Flynn in January 2017 was “not justified” and was not conducted on a “legitimate investigative basis”.

He also stated that he could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Flynn had lied, and said that after the interview, FBI agents had “expressed their uncertainty as to whether Mr. Flynn had lied” .

The department also said that proving someone made a false statement to federal investigators “requires more than a lie.”

“It also requires demonstrating that such a statement was” important “to the underlying investigation. “

What is the reaction?

Trump was informed by reporters from the Oval Office about the department’s decision.

He said he was not aware of it at the time, but that he “felt it was going to happen.”

“He was an innocent man,” said the president. “He was targeted in an attempt to bring down a president. “

“I hope a lot of people will pay a heavy price. They are scum. “

Former FBI director James Comey, who has criticized the president since his dismissal in May 2017, tweeted that the Justice Department “had lost its way.”

“But, career people: please stay because America needs you. The country is hungry for honest and competent leaders. “

What is the context?

Flynn only lasted 23 days as an adviser to the National Security Council – the President’s chief adviser on international affairs and defense.

Trump sacked him after it appeared he had discussed lifting sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador to Washington before Trump took office and lied to the vice president about this conversation.

In March, Trump said he plans to forgive Flynn.

Although he initially agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, Flynn asked to withdraw his guilty plea in January.

With the help of a new legal team, he accused prosecutors of misconduct, including withholding evidence.

Attorney General Bill Barr appointed US Attorney Jeffrey Jensen to review the handling of the Flynn case earlier this year.

Jensen said in a statement that he “concluded that the appropriate and just solution was to close the case.”

Just before the announcement, US media reported that prosecutor Brandon Van Grack, who was a member of the special council team Robert Mueller, had withdrawn from the management of the case.

No further details were given regarding his withdrawal.

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