The move is a staggering reversal for one of the signing cases brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. This comes even though prosecutors in the past three years have argued that Flynn had lied to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in an interview in January 2017. Flynn himself admitted it and became a Key cooperator for Mueller as he investigated ties between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.
In court documents released Thursday, the Justice Department said it is dropping the case “after a full review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including the newly discovered and leaked information.” The documents were obtained by the Associated Press.
The Department of Justice said it had concluded that the FBI’s interview with Flynn was “neither related to nor justified by the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Mr. Flynn” and that the interview with the January 24, 2017 had been “conducted without any legitimate basis for investigation. . ”
The US prosecutor examining the Flynn case, Jeff Jensen, recommended the decision to move to Attorney General William Barr last week and formalized the recommendation in a document this week.
“During my review of General Flynn’s case, I concluded that the appropriate and just solution was to close the case,” Jensen said in a statement. “I informed Attorney General Barr of my findings, I informed him of these findings and he agreed. “
The decision will certainly be approved by Trump, who frequently tweeted about the case and said last week Flynn “exempt,” and will energize supporters who have taken Lt. Gen. retired as a cause. popular. But it can also add to Democratic concerns that Barr is overly loyal to the president.
The Justice Department’s action comes as part of an internal review of the handling of the case and an aggressive effort by Flynn’s lawyers to challenge the basis for the prosecution. Lawyers cited recently leaked FBI emails and notes last week to allege that Flynn was trapped in lies when agents questioned him in the White House a few days after Trump’s inauguration.
The decision is the latest dramatic turning point in a multi-year-old affair. In recent months, Flynn’s attorneys have made a series of allegations regarding the FBI’s actions and have asked to withdraw his guilty plea. A judge rejected most of the requests and did not rule on others, including the request to revoke the plea.
The move comes as Barr increasingly challenged the investigation into Russia, saying in a TV interview last month that it was launched “without any basis.” In February, he quashed a decision by prosecutors in the Roger Stone case in favor of a lenient recommended sentence for Trump’s longtime friend.
Earlier this year, he appointed Jensen of St. Louis to investigate the handling of the Flynn case. As part of this process, the Department of Justice produced a series of emails and notes to Flynn’s lawyers, including a handwritten note from a senior FBI official that described internal deliberations on the purpose of the interview. de Flynn: “What is our goal? Truth / admission or to make it lie, so that we can pursue it or get it fired? Wrote the official.
Other documents show that the FBI had been prepared weeks before his interview with Flynn to drop his investigation to find out if he was acting under the leadership of Russia. Later in the month, however, when the White House insisted that Flynn had never discussed the sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, FBI officials were alarmed by Flynn’s conversations with the diplomat and what he had communicated to the White House. The investigation remained open and officers went to visit him at the White House on January 24, 2017.
Justice Department officials went to the White House two days later to warn officials that they fear that Flynn will be compromised and vulnerable to Russian blackmail because of his account of what was said during the call. White House officials waited several weeks to kick him out of their jobs, saying they had concluded that Flynn had lied to them.
Recruitment of new lawyers
Flynn pleaded guilty in December, becoming one of the President’s first assistants to admit guilt in Mueller’s investigation. He admitted to lying about his conversations with Kislyak, in which he urged Russia not to retaliate against the United States for sanctions imposed by the Obama administration due to electoral interference.
He provided such extensive cooperation that prosecutors said he was entitled to a probation sentence instead of prison.
It turned out that this sentencing hearing was abruptly cut short after Flynn, faced with a severe reprimand from US district judge Emmet Sullivan, asked to be able to continue to cooperate and to get credit for a longer sentence. lenient.
Flynn’s fears about the case were already exposed when his attorneys at the time blatantly pointed out in their condemnation note that the FBI had not warned him that it was illegal to lie when he did. interviewed at the White House in January 2017.
Since then, however, he has hired new lawyers – including Sidney Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller’s investigation – who have taken a much more confrontational stance toward the government. The lawyers accused prosecutors of not disclosing the documents and evidence they deemed favorable to the case, and repeatedly noted that one of the two agents who interviewed Flynn had been dismissed from the FBI for sending Disgusting text messages about Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.