DOJ drops criminal case against Michael Flynn

Source: Politico | May 7, 2020 | Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein

The move comes after the president and his allies stepped up their assault on the legal case against the former national security adviser.

The Justice Department has abandoned its prosecution of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, throwing in the towel on one of the most prominent cases brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his dealings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

But department officials, including Attorney General William Barr, concluded in light of recently disclosed evidence that the FBI’s questioning of him just four days after Trump’s inauguration lacked a proper investigative basis.

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The bombshell court filing asking U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to dismiss the case bore the signature of only one prosecutor: U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Timothy Shea, a former Barr aide named to the post in January.

Moments before Shea’s filing, the top prosecutor in the Flynn case withdrew abruptly and without explanation. Brandon Van Grack, who served as one of special counsel Robert Mueller’s top lawyers and remained on the Flynn case even after Mueller’s office closed down, signaled his exit from the case in a terse, one-sentence filing with U.S. Sullivan.

In another sign of discord, the prosecutor who handled the matter alongside Van Grack over the past year — Assistant U.S. Attorney Jocelyn Ballentine — was also absent from the filing seeking to drop the case.

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In recent weeks and months, Flynn’s defense — headed by Texas lawyer Sidney Powell — had escalated its attacks on Van Grack personally, alleging that he withheld evidence favorable to Flynn in defiance of an order from Sullivan requiring the prosecution to turn over such material.

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The filings also did not indicate whether Van Grack was directed to withdraw from the Flynn case or elected to do so.

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