Terry H. Schwadron
May 9, 2020
So, just for a moment, see if you can set aside the face that Donald Trump has thrown out equal justice under the law, and gotten Atty. Gen. William P. Barr to amend Justice for All with a special exemption for Trump associates and friends.
We’ll return to the main event shortly.
Did former Gen Michael T. Flynn lie to the FBI?
Yes — despite the surfacing in these last last two weeks in which somehow handwritten notes by FBI agents about how best to frame questions to Flynn are being used to say there was no basis for bringing charges to which Flynn twice pleaded guilty.
Did he lie about contact with the Russian ambassador to the United States days before Trump was in office? Yes. The FBI had tapes, but Justice now says the lie was not “material.”
Did Flynn lie about contacts with Turkish and other overseas clients while he was advising Donald Trump about foreign affairs? Yes. There are documents.
Did Flynn lie to Vice President Mike Pence about whether he had talked with the Russian ambassador? Yes. That was why Trump said he had to fire Flynn days into the new administration.
Did James Comey Jr. as FBI director agree to drop charges against Flynn? No. Did Justice Department officials Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein or even the interim Atty. Gen. Matthew Whitaker drop charges? No.
Is this the same Barr who comes down time after time in decisions that protect Donald Trump no matter what he does, from making misleading summaries of the Mueller investigation to defending Trump’s refusal to cooperate with legally required congressional oversight to defending him in impeachment-related matters? Yes, yes, yes.
It could be that the judge in the case, Emmett Sullivan, refuses to accept the change and instead demands answers about who requested the sudden about-face, though that seems unlikely.
Let’s have a show of hands. Is Barr a Trump tool?
Would you trust Flynn?
The Obama administration fired Flynn back in 2014 for trying to represent the country in foreign policy setting in violation of the Logan Acct. Flynn was dismissed from the Defense Intelligence Agency for misfeasance. Obama’s appointees went quietly to the White House to let Trump know that Flynn was being caught on electronic surveillance of the Russian ambassador, opening him up to possible blackmail attempts.
The Trump White House did nothing, until Flynn got caught.
Now the disclosure of hand-written notes about how best to frame the questions of a politically sensitive White House — as part of an initial FBI investigation — have been blown up by Barr. The prosecutor who took the two guilty pleas has walked away furious. The case has been covered in fog and smoke, to keep Donald Trump from having to pardon Flynn.
Now Trump is talking about bringing him back to the administration, because he is a good guy. “He was an innocent man,” Trump said of the reversed decision on Flynn. “Now in my book he’s an even greater warrior.”
He also called Russian President Vladimir Putin after the reversal was announced, and discussed the Russian hoax, among other topics. Wonder why there is worry here about whether this president understands the bounds — legal or otherwise — of propriety?
Wait ten minutes and we’ll be hearing about Roger Stone, and somehow magically, there will be pardons for Paul Manafort and others who had been Trump associates caught up in webs of lies to federal officials.
Banana Republic Justice
What does it all mean?
To say that Trump has politicized the Justice Department doesn’t even scratched the surface. He has obliterated the wall between politics and prosecution, a pattern over time with Barr that should disqualify Trump to be in office altogether.
It is not only unethical, but legally questionable, and politically intolerable.
But Flynn’s arrest came as party of the Russia investigation by Robert S. Mueller III. It was one of perhaps 40 or 50 documented unofficial contacts with Russians — all denied repeatedly by this White House. Now, with Flynn’s plea declared not a crime, Trump clearly the wider questions about why close relations with Russia was going on during his campaign and presidency.
Trump has inveigled Barr to undercut each and every part of the Russia investigation, to erase the board.
In his plea, Flynn admitted he was in touch with senior Trump transition officials before and after his communications with the Russian ambassador. The pre-inauguration communications with ambassador involved efforts to blunt Obama administration policy decisions on sanctions on Russia and a United Nations resolution on Israel, according to his plea. He also admitted misstating his lobbying work for the government of Turkey.
So, there was an admission under oath, in front of a judge who repeatedly asked that it was offered voluntarily.
The new crime here is that we have a Trump White House and Justice Department that doesn’t believe in equal justice for all.
As with coronavirus, Trump simply wants to wish bad legal news away — and the magic happens.