Democrats ask for investigation of DOJ decision to drop Flynn case

Senate Democrats are requesting a top Justice Department watchdog investigate the decision to drop the federal government’s case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.  

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Jeffrey Ragsdale, the acting director of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, asking for them to “immediately open an investigation” into the decision “as well as the Department’s pattern of politicized decision making.”

“The Department’s decision thus appears to be based solely on President Trump’s clear desire to shield his political allies from responsibility for their actions and to reject the clear reality that his Administration broke the law in its effort to obstruct legitimate investigations into its conduct. If this decision is not investigated, it poses a clear and present threat to the rule of law,” they added.  

They are asking for the investigation to look into “policies, procedures, and practices related to politically sensitive prosecutions.”

“As part of this investigation, we ask that you determine why the Department chose to drop its charges against Flynn, why no career prosecutor joined in that decision, and what role Attorney General Barr and President Trump played,” they wrote.

In addition to Whitehouse and Blumenthal, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a fellow member of the Judiciary Committee, tweeted that the decision “needs to be investigated by the DOJ’s IG.” 

The Justice Department announced on Thursday that it was moving to drop its case against Flynn, who had been charged with lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia shortly before President Trump took office.

The DOJ said in a court filing that it no longer believed it could make a case against the former three-star Army general. Flynn had initially entered into an agreement in 2017 to cooperate with DOJ and plead guilty, but he had since withdrawn from the plea agreement and was fighting the charges. 

Attorney General William Barr further defended the decision during an interview with CBS News, saying it was his “duty” to drop the Flynn case. 

“I’m doing the law’s bidding. I’m doing my duty under the law, as I see it,” Barr told CBS News in an interview Thursday. 

But Blumenthal and Whitehouse, in their letter, counter that “the facts of the Flynn case are clear. Flynn broke the law.”

“At times, the link between President Trump’s tweets and Barr’s actions has been so tight that even Barr has urged the president to be more circumspect,” they wrote.

Barr is coming under heavy criticism from congressional Democrats over the decision to drop the case against Flynn with several, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), renewing their calls for him to resign. 

It’s the latest political firestorm for Barr, who faced a backlash in February over the Justice Department’s decision to reduce its recommended sentence for Roger Stone.

Barr, in the interview with CBS that aired on Thursday, said that his decision was not influenced by Trump and that he did not consult Trump. He told CBS that the White House was made aware of the decision when the Justice Department filed it. 

“They were aware, because of the schedule, that the Department would be saying something in court. And I said that we’d make up our mind what to do and file, you know, sometime before Monday. File our responses to what was going on in court. But other than that, no,” he said, asked if he had advised the White House of his decision. 

Tags Cory Booker Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Richard Blumenthal Roger Stone Sheldon Whitehouse William Barr

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