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On Thursday, the Justice Department dropped its criminal case against Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security advisor. The department did not inform the White House of its decision to drop the case, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.
Flynn was fired by Trump three years ago after serving as national security advisor for just 24 days – the shortest time anyone has ever been in the position. Flynn was dismissed over revelations that he had discussed lifting sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office.
Flynn had previously pleaded guilty twice for lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian contacts in late 2016. This January, Flynn withdrew his guilty plea.
Why was the case dropped?
Attorney General William Barr appointed an outside prosecutor to reexamine the case. This prosecutor then turned over documents that Flynn’s lawyers used as evidence of prosecutorial misconduct.
Barr also cast doubt on the premise of the Russia investigation itself, assigning another independent prosecutor to research its origins.
The Justice Department said that it moved to dismiss the charges “after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information."
The department also said that the interview between investigators and Flynn in January 2017 was “unjustified" and not conducted on a “legitimate investigative basis."
After the interview, FBI agents had “expressed uncertainty as to whether Flynn had lied."
The Justice Department also stated that proving someone had made a false statement to federal investigators “requires more than a lie,” and that the lie itself “requires demonstrating that such a statement was ‘material’ to the underlying investigation."
While serving under Trump, Barr has challenged the FBI and its leaders and has publicly questioned the conclusions of a report that found the FBI had the justification to investigate the possible Russian infiltration of the Trump campaign.
It’s been reported that Barr had previously come into conflict with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
While the court must still formally approve the request, the decision drew swift criticism from former top FBI officials who had worked on the case and supported the investigation into Flynn.
Former FBI director James Comey, who was fired in May 2017, tweeted that the Justice Department “has lost its way."
Trump, upon hearing that the charges against Flynn had been dropped, stated that he had “felt it was going to happen."
“He was an innocent man … He was targeted in order to try and take down a president … I hope a lot of people are going to pay a big price because they’re dishonest, crooked people. They’re scum."