Mueller's investigation of Trump has consumed Barr since Day One

  • In US
  • 2020-05-08 17:50:04Z
  • By NBC News
Mueller\'s investigation of Trump has consumed Barr since Day One  

WASHINGTON - To his critics, Attorney General William Barr is doing all he can to undercut the conclusions of the Mueller investigation to please the White House. To his supporters, he is scrutinizing the probe of a presidential candidate that even the Justice Department's inspector general said was flawed.

Those fault lines were in sharp relief after Barr directed federal prosecutors to abandon their prosecution of Michael Flynn, who served briefly as national security adviser in the early days of the Trump administration. Flynn admitted that he had lied to the FBI about his conversations during the transition with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Barr's decision outrageous and said the justice system was being used for political ends. Rep. Jerry Nadler, the New York Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called for an investigation into Barr's actions by the inspector general.

Many former prosecutors condemned the highly unusual move to drop the prosecution of someone who has twice entered a guilty plea in federal court.

Neal Katyal, who served in the Justice Department in the Obama administration, said it was "past stunning. "This is the collapse of the Justice Department as I and others who have worked there knew it."

But Rep. Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, said on Twitter, "After the government spent years destroying General Flynn's life, justice has finally prevailed." Brett Tolman, a former federal prosecutor in Utah, said: "This was the right decision, not a political decision. And the individuals who reviewed this were reviewing the evidence at issue absent any political mandate."

Barr said he acted on a recommendation to drop the case by Jeffrey Jensen, a U.S. attorney in Missouri tasked by Barr in January to review the FBI's investigation of Flynn.

"I concluded the proper and just course was to dismiss the case," Jensen said Thursday. "I briefed Attorney General Barr on my findings, advised him on these conclusions, and he agreed."

Flynn was charged with violating a federal law that makes it a crime to lie about any matter under investigation. But to be a crime, the lie must be about something "material," something central to the investigation.

In its 20-page filing Thursday, the Justice Department said it concluded that Flynn's lies were not material, for two reasons.

First, he had been under investigation since the summer of 2016 about whether he facilitated Russia's meddling in the election. By early January, recently disclosed documents reveal, the FBI had concluded that he did not, and it was seeking to close the case. Then the FBI learned that Flynn was not telling the truth to Vice President Mike Pence and others in the White House about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

Second, Thursday's court filing said those conversations with the ambassador were not illegal. Therefore, it concluded, there was no investigative purpose in questioning Flynn, since agents had the transcripts of those calls. And even if he lied to the FBI, those lies weren't material to any investigation.

"The reality is more mundane," said the Lawfare website. "The FBI prepared to close an investigation and when presented with new evidence decided to keep it open. The fact that the investigation hadn't been formally closed was a matter of bureaucratic convenience; the process of reopening a closed investigation requires paperwork and since this one hadn't been closed, there was nothing to reopen."

Barr's decision to abandon the Flynn case renewed criticism that he was doing the president's bidding.

He was accused in the spring of soft-pedaling the Mueller report before it was released. And in February, he instructed prosecutors to dial back their sentencing recommendation for former Trump campaign aide Roger Stone.

But Barr has been consistent in his view that the FBI's investigation of the Trump campaign was overzealous. A year ago, he told Congress that he wanted to review "both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign."

After the Justice Department inspector general concluded last December that the FBI's investigation was not politically motivated, Barr said the FBI began looking at the Trump campaign based on the thinnest of suspicions and kept pushing even after it went nowhere.

"There has to be some basis before we use these very potent powers in our core First Amendment activity. And here, I felt this was very flimsy," Barr said.

Thursday's court filing does not end the Flynn case. The Justice Department has now asked Federal District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan to dismiss the prosecution and suggested in its court filing that the judge had little choice in the matter.

But Sullivan may want to look more deeply at the government's version of what happened. "The judge may want to make some sort of inquiry to see if the dismissal is being sought for an appropriate purpose," said Chuck Rosenberg, a former federal prosecutor.


More Related News

Trump says he
Trump says he'll designate antifa a terror organization, blames group for violence at George Floyd protests

Trump is convinced the loosely affiliated group of militant anti-fascists is behind the violence at protests following George Floyd's death.

What Top Conservatives Are Saying About George Floyd and Police Brutality
What Top Conservatives Are Saying About George Floyd and Police Brutality

In her typical appearances on Fox News, Jeanine Pirro, a former Republican district attorney, reserves her highest dudgeon for castigating liberals and lamenting the demise of law and order.But on Friday's "Fox & Friends," Pirro's voice nearly broke as she described the agonizing final moments of George Floyd, the black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer ignored his pleas and pinned him to the ground during a routine stop."George Floyd was begging, saying he couldn't breathe, saying please, please," Pirro told viewers. "This man who put his knee on the neck of George Floyd does not deserve to be free in this country."Even right-wing stars like Rush Limbaugh hedged their...

A Reporter
A Reporter's Cry on Live TV: 'I'm Getting Shot! I'm Getting Shot!'

Linda Tirado, a freelance photographer, activist and author, was shot in the left eye Friday while covering the street protests in Minneapolis.Tirado is one of a number of journalists around the country who were attacked, arrested or otherwise harassed -- sometimes by police and sometimes by protesters -- during their coverage of the uprisings that have erupted nationwide after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.With trust in the news media lagging, journalists have found themselves targeted.A television reporter in Louisville, Kentucky, was hit by a pepper ball on live television by an officer who appeared to be aiming at her, causing her to exclaim on the air: "I'm getting...

Fiery Clashes Between Police and Protesters Spread Through U.S.
Fiery Clashes Between Police and Protesters Spread Through U.S.

Protesters who took to the streets in Minneapolis for the fifth straight night Saturday met a more determined response from police officers and National Guard troops, as demonstrations escalated in dozens of cities across the country -- an outpouring of national anger sparked by the death of a black

Transcripts released of Flynn
Transcripts released of Flynn's calls with Russian diplomat
  • World
  • 2020-05-29 21:38:25Z

Transcripts of phone calls that played a pivotal role in the Russia investigation were declassified and released Friday, showing that Michael Flynn, as an adviser to then-President-elect Donald Trump, urged Russia's ambassador to be "even-keeled" in response to punitive Obama administration measures, and assured him "we can have a better conversation" about relations between the two countries after Trump became president. Democrats said the transcripts showed that Flynn had lied to the FBI when he denied details of the conversation, and that he was undercutting a sitting president while ingratiating himself with a country that had just interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: US