The Justice Department’s official dismissal of the federal case against former Trump administration National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is not sitting well with former President Barack Obama.
According to Yahoo! News, Obama provided rare commentary on the matter Friday, referring to the decision as unprecedented and worrisome in a private online call with members of his former administration, now colloquially referred to as the Obama Alumni Association.
An audio recording of the call reveals the former president even alleged the “rule of law is at risk.”
“The news over the last 24 hours, I think, has been somewhat downplayed about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said. “The fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free.
“That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk.
“And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places,” Obama added.
He went on to suggest the Flynn decision should underline for left-wing political operatives the importance of the upcoming 2020 election, in which his former vice president, Joe Biden, is now the presumptive Democratic nominee.
OBAMA PHONE CALL: ‘Rule of law is at risk’ after Michael Flynn case was dropped. pic.twitter.com/skMuMRnT2U
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) May 9, 2020
According to The Associated Press, the charges against Flynn were dramatically dropped in a Thursday court filing brought by the Justice Department after a lengthy investigative case review conducted by U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen.
Amid then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to knowingly providing false statements in an interview with the FBI the previous January, Fox News reported.
Prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the incoming national security advisor had been under scrutiny for alleged Logan Act violations resulting from foreign policy conversations with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transitionary period between the Obama and Trump administrations.
Despite his guilty plea, however, arguments raised by Flynn’s legal team over alleged potential evidentiary improprieties and prosecutorial misconduct prevented the courts from moving forward with sentencing — a matter further complicated by the subsequent withdrawal of the guilty plea after prosecutors retracted their recommendation that he serve no time behind bars. (The leniency guarantee was part of the original plea deal.)
Increasingly relevant among the concerns raised by the defense were allegations the FBI had withheld from Flynn the knowledge that false statements would constitute criminal activity and further advised against the presence of White House counsel during the interview.
FBI notes unsealed last week only served to further undermine the basis for the interview, indicating investigators had questioned whether their goal in interviewing him was to catch Flynn in a perjury trap.
“What is our goal?” one of the notes read. “Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) May 8, 2020
The bombshell disclosure and immaterial nature of Flynn’s false statements would in turn lead the Justice Department to conclude the interview was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis” and “untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn,” according to The AP.
“Through the course of my review of General Flynn’s case, I concluded the proper and just course was to dismiss the case,” Jensen said in a statement. “I briefed Attorney General Barr on my findings, advised him on these conclusions, and he agreed.”
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Brought about by Attorney General William Barr’s ordered investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, the development is yet another in a series of revelations which seems to call into question the legitimacy of both the procedure and foundations of the probe.
Obama’s remarks on the decision come the same week that the investigation seems to have uncovered a baseline knowledge of the probe and its activities among members of the Obama administration.
According to Fox News, recently unsealed notes from then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates reveal Obama and his FBI director, James Comey, were aware intelligence agents had wiretapped Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak in December 2016.
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