Well, this certainly won’t help cool down talk of the DOJ’s involvement in political cases. Four prosecutors quit this week after the DOJ overruled the sentencing recommendation in the Roger Stone case. Now we learn that AG Barr had previously assigned an outside prosecutor to review the government’s actions in the Michael Flynn case.
Attorney General William Barr asked the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, Jeffrey Jensen, to look into Flynn’s FBI interview, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The inquiry began within the past month, they said…
Jensen’s inquiry seems similar to one Barr assigned to the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, John Durham, examining the origins of the FBI’s investigation into potential ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. Durham’s inquiry evolved into a criminal investigation, raising questions about whether Jensen’s may as well…
Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney in Virginia and an NBC News legal analyst, said it’s unclear if there’s anything improper about assigning Jensen to look into Flynn’s FBI interview, but if he’s not looking into whether a crime was committed, then Barr is potentially misusing a U.S. attorney.
“If you think what you have is a flawed process, or some larger policy issue that needs to be addressed, then you might go to the IG,” Rosenberg said. “If you think you have a crime, then you would go to a U.S. attorney.”
This new inquiry comes as Flynn’s sentencing has been repeatedly delayed. Last month, Flynn submitted a declaration to the court asking to withdraw his guilty plea and claiming he made it under pressure from prosecutor’s threats against his family and mistakes by his former attorneys.
An unnamed official familiar with the situation told CNN that no one should assume this will necessarily result in a more lenient approach to Flynn:
Jensen’s involvement shouldn’t be taken as a signal that the Justice Department would undermine their recent filings in the case, which have struck a harsher tone toward Flynn, the official told CNN.
It’s possible that if the department continues to fight Flynn’s attempts to withdraw his guilty plea, Van Grack could be a witness on the circumstances of his plea deal, according to several people familiar with the case.
However, Jensen will have the freedom to look at the whole case, including the interview with Flynn which has become the major bone of contention.
In the interview, held in Flynn’s West Wing office at the White House, former FBI agent Peter Strzok and another agent asked Flynn about conversations he had with the then-Russian ambassador during the Trump transition about US and Russian policy. Flynn didn’t tell them what he had discussed with the ambassador, and the agents noted in their memo that the general didn’t show the classic physical signs of lying.
The thing about the agents not seeing any signs of Flynn lying is important because Flynn says his lawyers didn’t communicate that to him before he pleaded guilty.
I’m not an attorney but as I’ve said before my own take is that I think the entire attempt to take down Flynn stinks. The idea initially was that he may have violated the Logan Act in a conversation with the Russian Ambassador, but the Logan Act is justifiably a joke on the internet because it has never been used to prosecute anyone.
We’ll find out soon enough what US Attorney Jensen thinks about it and whether that will have an impact on Flynn’s case.