Saturday, May 16, 2020
In the short term, the Justice Department has harmed not only its own reputation for integrity through filing the motion to dismiss but also public confidence that the law applies equally to everyone, including the president's friends. It is telling that prosecutor Brandon Van Grack, who worked on the case for more than two years, withdrew on the day the motion was filed and that no career prosecutor signed the filing.
The FBI learned that Flynn had spoken to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late December 2016. According to the Justice Department's motion, the FBI had transcripts of the relevant calls, likely obtained through surveillance of Kislyak authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. By this time, Flynn had been named as Trump's national security adviser.
In those calls, Flynn had asked Russia not to retaliate for sanctions imposed by the Obama administration as punishment for election interference. Flynn had also asked Russia to vote against a United Nations resolution regarding Israeli settlements. On their face, these calls potentially undermined the foreign policy of the United States. What's more, on Jan. 15, 2017, Mike Pence, then the vice president-elect, made public statements that contradicted the transcripts of Flynn's calls" a fact that, as documented in the Mueller report, "alarmed senior DOJ [Department of Justice] officials." And so, the FBI decided to keep the investigation open. FBI agents interviewed Flynn on Jan. 24, four days after Trump took office. During that interview, Flynn falsely denied his statements regarding sanctions and the U.N. vote. He later pleaded guilty to one count of false statements for telling these lies.
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