Barr Defends DOJ Dropping Case against Michael Flynn: ‘It Upheld the Rule of Law’

Attorney General William Barr in Washington, D.C., February 26, 2019 (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Attorney General William Barr defended the Justice Department’s controversial decision to drop the case against former national-security adviser Michael Flynn, who earlier this year withdrew his guilty plea that he lied to the FBI about his Russian contacts.

Barr was asked in a CBS interview released Thursday how he thinks history will judge his decision to drop the case.

When history looks back on this decision, how do you think it will be written?” CBS correspondent Catherine Herridge asked the attorney general.

“Well, history is written by the winners,” Barr responded. “So it largely depends on who’s writing the history. I think a fair history would say it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law,” Barr said. “It upheld the standards of the Department of Justice, and it undid what was an injustice.”

“Our duty, we think, is to dismiss the case,” Barr said. “A crime cannot be established here. They did not have a basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn at that stage.”

“People sometimes plead to things that turn out not to be crimes,” the attorney general added.

Barr said he is “prepared” for criticism of the department’s decision to drop the case, but lamented that “nowadays these partisan feelings are so strong that people have lost any sense of justice.”

Flynn, a retired three-star general, was fired by President Trump after the revelation that he made contradictory statements to Vice President Mike Pence about whether he had discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He pled guilty later in 2017 to making false statements to the FBI regarding his contacts with the Russian ambassador. The case against the former national-security adviser arose from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.

In January, however, Flynn requested to withdraw his guilty plea, and his February sentencing hearing was canceled.

“I did not lie to them. I believed I was honest with them to the best of my recollection at the time,” Flynn said in a January legal filing. “I still don’t remember if I discussed sanctions on a phone call with Ambassador Kislyak nor do I remember if we discussed the details of a UN vote on Israel.”

“I tried to ‘accept responsibility’ by admitting to offenses I understood the government I love and trusted said I committed,” Flynn added.

Mairead McArdle is a news writer for National Review Online and a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College.
@johnsonhildy

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