As Predicted, Billy Barr Bolloxed the Mike Flynn Prosecution

In advance of a status report due tomorrow, Brandon Van Grack withdrew from the Mike Flynn case.

The AP reports that DOJ has filed paperwork to withdraw from the case, based on findings from Jeffrey Jensen’s review.

In court documents being filed Thursday, the Justice Department said it is dropping the case “after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information.” The documents were obtained by The Associated Press.

The Justice Department said it had concluded that Flynn’s interview by the FBI was “untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn” and that the interview on January 24, 2017 was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”

While Van Grack has withdrawn from all Flynn-related cases before Emmet Sullivan, he has not yet withdrawn from two other open cases he’s on, and he signed his withdrawal FARA Chief.

As noted in this post, Sullivan has discretion over whether to accept this withdrawal.

Update: Here’s the motion to withdraw. It is easily rebuttable — we’ll see whether Sullivan does so on his own.

74 replies
  1. dude says:

    You said in the earlier post that Judge Sullivan could appoint a grand jury for Flynn investigating perjury.
    Could that be cancelled out immediately by a Presidential pardon, or would the grand jury have to run its course before any such action by the President could be lawfully executed?

  2. punaise says:

    What the actual fuck – breaking news everywhere:

    “Justice Department drops criminal case against Michael Flynn”

    • Tony el Tigre says:

      This is what happens when a pathologically lying criminal is the head of state. I’m actually an anarchist, so as corrupt as this is, it reminds me why I’m an anarchist.

  3. madwand says:

    Up is down, down is up, like the giant hand, the nation continues to experience vertigo. It’s convenient for those who manipulate the right to portray Flynn’s lies as a justice department prosecution run amok, and in truth it has as Barr has proved beyond a doubt.

  4. Peterr says:

    I wonder if this might backfire on Barr et al. This isn’t going to make all this go away, and might make it worse.

    1) Flynn’s original lawyers still stand accused of having been either negligent or antagonistic toward Flynn when he was their client. They are not going to want to let that stand without getting it heard in court. If anything, Barr’s action to get the case withdrawn will only stiffen their desire to clear their name. Not sure how that would play out in the legal system, but Covington will be adamant about saying “whatever you do with Flynn, we will not let our good name be trashed without seeking a venue to mount our defense.” This will keep this in the courts and in the news.

    2) In US v Stevens, when things went to hell and the DOJ tried to withdraw and step back from the prosecution (essentially saying “Let’s just drop it and call it a day, your Honor”), Sullivan said “Not so fast, boys” and put his own special master on the job to ferret things out. I can easily imagine Sullivan doing something similar here.

    3) While Barr et al. may have thought that the COVID-19 crisis might keep this pretty far down the news cycle, that underestimates exactly how hungry the media and the general public are to talk about anything BUT the coronavirus 24/7.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Judge Sullivan is the wild card here, and he can read the news like the rest of us. If I were conspiratorial, I would connect this ploy to the careful questioning at the earlier hearings for the pleas by Judge Sullivan and Flynn’s admissions at those times. In short this would set up the ability of Sullivan to make Flynn pay for lying to him in open court and what could Barr possibly say about that (as if Judge Sullivan cares) to get Flynn off those particular hooks? It seems Sullivan foresaw that this would be tried, and remembering Stevens, found a way to hold Flynn accountable for something even if DJT pulled the rug out.

      I don’t recall seeing anything in the AP story that suggests Barr addressed the plea hearings except to say it’s moot because there is no case any longer. I do not think Judge Sullivan will agree, and this may get kicked up higher into the appellate circuit.

      OT: I see that Dr. Fauci was given the compliment by Wohl, Burkman, et al of sexual assault allegation but the lady in this case ratted them out as paying for the deed, with tapes (Lordy!). This crew has gone after others in the same way (Mueller and Warren come to mind, especially the press conference for Mueller), and it also casts severe doubt on Tara Reade (who apparently changed her social media posting shortly before coming forward, in addition to the highly sketchy background) and her claims. So, it seems the scandals like this are intended to de-sensitize America to the fact that DJT is an admitted abuser who has over 20 ladies making more valid claims about his misconduct. It seems the thinking is: if “everyone does it” DJT is off the hook.

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:

        Google “Woman Claims She And Vladimir Putin Are In Love – Dr. Phil Asks Why They’ve Never Met” dated 11/11/2019 if you want to see how legitimate Tara Reade is. She’s supposedly a Bernie Bot but IMHO she’s being paid big bucks by somebody.

    • OmAli says:

      As Barr said yesterday, the winners write the history. I don’t think losing is anywhere on his ‘What Second or Third Branch?’ bingo card.

      When might we hear from Judge Sullivan?

      I have no faith in this Justice Dept. I’m waiting, impatiently for Karma to get its lazy ass in gear.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mitch McConnell and Bill Barr are the bricks and mortar of the Trump presidency. Without them, there would be only Trump’s hot air. They are his sword and shield, and allow Trump to hide his crimes without having to do the hiding himself. The hiding is their doing. In the unlikely event swords must be fallen on, it is they who must do the falling, not Trump. Barr has outdone himself. Every corrupt bidnessman and politician will be clamoring for his services when he returns to his white shoe law firm. Orwell would be lost for words.

    Assuming that the withdrawal from the case means that any plea deals and admissions of guilt are void, I can only hope that any dismissal is not with prejudice, and that any crimes not past their statutes of limitation might be taken up by an administration not so steeped in criminality.

  6. joel fisher says:

    Certainly looks less like he’ll get a pardon now; but he still might need one.

  7. TooLoose LeTruck says:


    I know crude commentary is frowned upon here but…


    It’s like everything Trump does is meant to be a big, fat middle finger to those of us who oppose him…

    The level of corruption, right out in broad daylight, is astonishing…

  8. Alan Charbonneau says:

    It makes me long for someone with a lot more integrity to hold Barr’s office. But John Mitchell is dead.

  9. OldTulsaDude says:

    The irony is that this is a massive display of the arrogance of the true power elite who Trump supporters thought they were voting out of office when they voted him in. Now, the problem is to frame it as such so they can understand they were duped.

    • rip says:

      I don’t think there’s a “conversion therapy” for dupes. Their pea-brains are made up and thoroughly invested. Some are still living in the confederacy of dunces.

    • Knox Br says:

      I think we are in a civil war at this point. Those people will never change their minds. They never have. Facts do not matter. This is their last stand, fueled by propaganda and fear. Slightly off-topic, but I see anti-Gavin Newsom posts in Central Valley citizens’ group on Facebook. He is the new Stalin, Democrats are beyond evil. This is the narrative they are pushing. The Covid-10 crisis is just one more attempted coup to invalidate the results of the 2016 presidential election. That’s what they believe. There’s no piercing that bubble.

  10. John McManus says:

    Flynn has already plead guilty , has been convicted and is awaiting sentence . How can the abandonment of the case change this ?

    • Silly but True says:

      This was not unexpected.

      Plea-bargained cases achieve their condition emulative of jury trial conviction upon completion of sentencing by judge; that never happened in this case, and so the case is essentially at position of post-indictment / “in-trial stage” as it’s dropped.

      Flynn has never technically been guilty yet. His sentencing has only ever been delayed — for 2.5 years now.

      If DoJ drops the case at this point, there is nothing to sentence on; they’re telling Sullivan “Whoops, we’re taking a mulligan.”

      That will have its own interesting consequences for all involved.

      At very least, Flynn will likely be successful against US in civil action to recover his past 3 years of legal costs associated with Mueller investigation; there is federal law that allows victims of dropped prosecutions such as this to recover their costs.

      Silly but True

      • emptywheel says:

        None of what you wrote is true.

        Sullivan gets to accept this or not, and there is still the matter of his conflicting sworn statements before Sullivan, which might be perjury to a court, irrespective of what happened with the FBI.

      • bmaz says:

        Lol, this is not just “Silly”, but complete and utter bullshit.

        That is just as to the first five paragraphs. You go into the completely insane when you get to paragraph six. That sound is me falling out of my chair laughing. There is no civil action against the US you dope.

        Good grief, do not, ever, waltz into this forum and try to make people stupid. You seem to have a problem in that regard.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Seeing this news hit Twitter caused me to drop my self-imposed EW hiatus. I figured trolls would show up, and it’s always a darkly amusing indication of the stakes involved [shrug emoji]                                                              

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Thanks much, Jim.
              Probably like everyone else, plenty of COVID anxiety at my place, so have restricted my media to limit stress. But like a moth to a flame… I saw the Flynn news and could not stay away ;-)

              Such relief to see familiar screen names and wit!

              And trolls are always such a great barometer of the approximate extend of fear and obfuscation is happening around Things In The News ;-)

              • bmaz says:

                rOTL – knowing where you are, understand the Covid anxiety. But your old friends are always here and we are, hopefully, always a panacea to the nuttiness out there. Good to hear from you.

                • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                  Bless you, bmaz ;-)
                  Spouse seemed to have COVID19. Having to wear mask and gloves, constantly disinfecting every doorknob, surface, and object in my own home was a damn scary, awful experience. Not a good version of hell.

                  He’d become ill 72 hours after a blood draw, which simply could not be delayed any longer by late April. Everyone at his clinic was masked, gloved, and socially distanced. So when he came down with symptoms in about 3 days later, it felt ominous.

                  His medical provider did a great job of getting him in for testing, and he tested negative.

                  We are breathing more easily, but I have an appointment (online, obviously) to get more details about how frequently these tests give false negatives. So far, he is markedly improved.

                  These experiences have made the mind-boggling social costs of the Trump cabal of predators, grifters, and incompetents more clear.

                  FWIW, for all the awful things that I’ve said through the years, ‘Morning Joe’ did an impressive piece today:

                  Thanks again for your kind words. It’s a relief to see that the eWheelies seem to be doing well.

                  Credibility and clear information are everything right now, and going forward.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      Thanks so much, PJ ;-)

                      Info that I have from a source that I view as extremely dialed in to the latest research: about 30% of tests seem to produce false negatives.

                      So… everyone, please take care!

                    • posaune says:

                      Good to see you here, RoTL. Sending energizing wishes for good health for you and yours.

  11. Jenny says:

    The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by Andrew McCabe: Page 200
    “Four days after Trump’s inauguration, and after conferring with Comey, I called Flynn on the telephone. I remarked how many people were curious about his contact with Kislyak, and I asked if he would mind sitting down with two agents that day to answer a few questions. He said, No problem at all – happy to. I said, Okay, let me know if you feel compelled to have attorney’s there, whether White House counsel or your own attorney, that’s perfectly fine with us, but if you do, then I will have to ask someone from Justice to come down with the agents. He said, No, no, no, I don’t need to do that, it’s fine, just send your guys down here. I’m happy to talk to your guys. Okay, great, I said. We agreed on a time. The tone was as friendly, and as detached, as if we were planning a playdate for our kids.

    One thing he said stands out in my memory. When I told him that people were curious about his conversations with Kislyak, Flynn replied, You know what I said, because you guys were probably listening. To Flynn’s specific point, I had and have no comment. But I had to wonder, as events played out: If you thought we were listening, why would you lie?”

  12. Jim White says:

    It just occurred to me that with DOJ dropping the case and the prosecutor withdrawing just before that, should Sullivan continue as he should, Powell faces the likelihood of losing her case while arguing it unopposed. That would be epic if it plays out that way.

  13. Charles says:

    I remember the day I was criticized for saying the rule of law and justice is collapsing.

    The Supreme Court also says today that if a public official, for purely venal political motives, creates a traffic jam which may have led to at least one death and other cases of public endangerment, and the state attorney general who is, in the words of the local newspaper, “a puppet” of said official refuses to investigate, then the Feds can’t investigate.

    Oh, and (thinking back a few years), the Court says that a governor accepting tens of thousands in personal cash and gifts and then steering the donor to money-making opportunities is not quiiiiite what’s meant by bribery. And the president gets years of freedom from prosecution for crimes committed in office and before, and the Emoluments clause is unenforceable and Congress can’t conduct oversight and the Commerce Secretary can lie under oath… and on and on and on. There are two standards, one for the rich and one for the poor, one for Democrats and one for Republicans.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that anything resembling a federal system of law and justice remains. If called to serve on a federal jury, I do not know if I can in good conscience serve.

    • P J Evans says:

      With “Bridgegate”, it’s the choice of statutes that were used to charge them – they apparently require money/thing of value to change hands, that that didn’t happen (as far as we know).

      • jonf says:

        Really? That sounds kinda thin to me. Payment can consist of any number of things and did anyone ask if the circumstance was examined at all? I am so happy I was a mere accountant.

          • Charles says:

            Popehat, as usual, does an excellent job in laying out the issue. And one can’t disagree with the point that people shouldn’t be convicted of what the law does not forbid.


            People get wrongly convicted all the time. I don’t know what the statistics are on how many people in jail never did the crime, but thanks to the Innocence Project, we know there are some. Almost every one of them is poor. Most are people of color.

            So we have an imperfect justice system. It’s not some magical machine. It relies on people of conscience to do what is right. Lots of them do, or things would be much worse. But most of their acts of conscience have to do with letting the accused go. Not often is justice served by letting someone who is technically innocent go to jail. Bridgegate is the exception that proves the rule.

            • Rugger9 says:

              There is also the issue of what Flynn said in open court to Sullivan. What he says now and what he said then are mutually exclusive, i.e. at least one of these statements made to a federal judge under penalty of perjury is false. So, Sullivan doesn’t have to agree to this.

      • Charles says:

        I understand the rationale behind the decision, PJ. The ruling was unanimous, and I believe that the Democratic appointees were trying to apply the law fairly. I even have sympathy for one of the defendants, Bridget Kelly, who it really seems was just a pawn.

        But the situation in New Jersey was such that state law enforcement had been corrupted by Chris Christie [1]. If the Feds did not act, no one would. The Feds did what they could, bringing a case that may have not quite fit.

        If it cared about real justice, the Supreme Court could have refused to hear the case. That would have been the just outcome: letting a flawed conviction stand, because the alternative is letting Chris Christie and his corrupt state prosecutor block a prosecution they should have done.

        To oversimplify, there are two views of law. One is that it is a system of rules which must be applied mechanically. The second is that law is what delivers a Rawlsian outcome–one that everyone would agree was right if they could not choose whether they were going to be the plaintiff or the defendant. I believe that a system of law that does the former will inevitably become corrupt. All it takes is for some clever demagogue to come up with something like “originalism” or “unitary executive” and, presto, things we all know are wrong suddenly become legal. But I am, proudly, not a lawyer.


    • Sonso says:

      Like skydiving in the clouds: we have yet to see the ground. The LZ won’t be pretty.

  14. flatulus says:

    Perhaps if there really is a God he/she might just send a special messenger to the White House to serve the President lunch?

  15. harpie says:
    3:29 PM · May 7, 2020

    Trump on the Flynn news:

    “Innocent man,” “great gentleman,” “targeted by the Obama administration,” “what they’ve done is a disgrace,” “a big price should be paid,” “dishonest, crooked people – they’re scum…human scum.”

    Trump says people from the Obama DOJ committed “treason.” (Nobody committed treason, which has an actual definition that is not this.)

  16. Jenny says:

    DOJ drops case. Flynn lied about being an unregistered agent for a foreign country. Flynn lied to the FBI admitting he lied to the FBI. Flynn involved in a plot to abduct a Turkish cleric. Is this the case of criminals hiring and helping criminals?

  17. scott says:


    Trump is the POTUS America so richly deserves.

    what a shithole country you’ve become….and it was so easy for Trump to destroy it.

      • scott says:

        Your northern neighbour, and I didn’t claim to live in a “perfect world”. However I live in a nation where we still have the rule of law, science is believed and respected, and where we put health ahead of the bottom line. I think you’ll find most of Western Europe functions equally well.

        The “American Century” is over and it ended they way bankruptcy always arrives, at first gradually and then suddenly.

        By Thanksgiving the US will be battered by a perfect storm of COVID resurgence, a deepening recession, and civil/constitutional crisis brought on by Trump’s refusal to concede the election. Happy days.

        • Rayne says:

          Two cautionary words: Stephen Harper.

          Two more cautionary words: Rob Ford.

          Canadians are not immune to attacks on science and other stupidity, and the border is as permeable as the internet.

  18. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    Google “Woman Claims She And Vladimir Putin Are In Love – Dr. Phil Asks Why They’ve Never Met” dated 11/11/2019 if you want to see how legitimate Tara Reade is. She’s supposedly a Bernie Bot but IMHO she’s being paid big bucks by somebody.

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