A group of nearly 2,000 former Justice Department officials has criticized the department and Attorney General William Barr over its move to dismiss the indictment against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to President Donald Trump.
Barr has recently faced renewed scrutiny for his interventions in cases related to Trump’s close allies after the department made a decision to drop its case against Flynn for allegedly making false statements during an FBI interview.
On Monday, the group issued an online statement, organized by Protect Democracy, alleging that Barr had “once again assaulted the rule of law” by intervening in the Flynn case. Protect Democracy is a nonprofit advocacy group staffed by former government officials, political operatives, and activists that have been opposing Trump’s agenda via legal means.
The signees, made up of past career prosecutors who served under Republican and Democratic administrations, disputed the department’s justification for moving to dismiss the case. They argued that it “does not hold up to scrutiny” because there was “the ample evidence that the investigation was well-founded and—more importantly—the fact that Flynn admitted under oath and in open court that he told material lies to the FBI in violation of longstanding federal law.”
“If any of us, or anyone reading this statement who is not a friend of the President, were to lie to federal investigators in the course of a properly predicated counterintelligence investigation, and admit we did so under oath, we would be prosecuted for it,” they wrote.
In DOJ’s filing to the district court, Timothy Shea, interim U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, argued that “the interview of Mr. Flynn was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn—a no longer justifiably predicated investigation that the FBI had, in the Bureau’s own words, prepared to close because it had yielded an ‘absence of any derogatory information.’”
Shea added that since the government wasn’t “persuaded” that the FBI interviewed Flynn with “a legitimate investigative basis,” Flynn’s guilty plea was irrelevant. He said to be a crime, a lie needs to be “material,” which means it has to have “probative weight” on the investigated matter.
The department’s decision to file the motion came shortly after documents pertaining to the Flynn case released by the DOJ included handwritten notes that revealed top officials in the agency had questioned whether the goal of questioning Flynn was to “get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
Moreover, the documents also revealed that Peter Strzok, the FBI’s then-deputy assistant director for counterintelligence operations, urgently reached out to agents handling the Flynn case to advise them not to close the case after the agents determined there were no more leads to follow in the Flynn probe.
The group urged the judge presiding over the case, Judge Emmet Sullivan, to “closely examine the Department’s stated rationale for dismissing the charges—including holding an evidentiary hearing with witnesses—and to deny the motion and proceed with sentencing if appropriate.”
“While it is rare for a court to deny the Department’s request to dismiss an indictment, if ever there were a case where the public interest counseled the court to take a long, hard look at the government’s explanation and the evidence, it is this one,” the statement read.
The signees also called on Barr to resign, echoing a similar statement earlier this year over the department’s handling of Trump associate Roger Stone’s case. But in the likely event that he will not, they are also calling on Congress to hold the attorney general accountable, the signees wrote. Barr was scheduled to testify in the House Judiciary Committee in late March, but the hearing was canceled due to the public health crisis caused by the CCP virus pandemic. The group has now called on Congress to reschedule that hearing while urging lawmakers to formally censure the attorney general.
Barr has defended the department’s decision to drop the case against Flynn. In a May 7 interview with CBS reporter Catherine Herridge, Barr said the decision was a good one because it “upheld the rule.” He noted that the new information that became available in recent weeks influenced the department’s decision on the case.
“As new information just became available that has a bearing on whether there was a legitimate investigation, that requires us, our duty, we think is to dismiss the case,” Barr said.
The attorney general added that he was committed to restoring an equal standard of justice in the United States and that that standard requires the department to dismiss the case against Flynn.
“I wanted to make sure that we restore confidence in the system. There’s only one standard of justice,” he said.
Barr also dismissed claims that he was doing the bidding of Trump, saying that he was “doing the law’s bidding.”
Earlier this year, Protect Democracy also organized a similar statement signed by hundreds of former DOJ officials to express dissatisfaction over Barr’s handling of the sentencing of Stone.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.
Petr Svab contributed to this report.