Top Democrat demands 'immediate explanation' from Barr after Flynn case dropped

The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee demanded answers from Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump sides with religious leaders in fight against governors Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans Senate Republicans call on DOJ to investigate Planned Parenthood loans MORE over the Justice Department’s decision to drop criminal charges against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams Biden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' GOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order MORE's former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerThe House impeachment inquiry loses another round — and yes, that's still going on Democrats call on DHS to allow free calls at ICE detention centers Warren announces slate of endorsements including Wendy Davis and Cornyn challenger Hegar MORE (D-N.Y.) said the “outrageous” move called for an “immediate explanation.” He added that the House Judiciary Committee, which Nadler chairs, would summon Barr to the Capitol as soon as possible, after a March hearing with the attorney general was postponed due to the pandemic and said later in a statement he would ask the Inspector General to investigate.

“Rest assured, we are going to reschedule that hearing, ASAP, and demand answers!” Nadler said on Twitter.

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday its intent to drop the criminal case against Flynn, who had previously pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during the presidential transition. Flynn later withdrew from his plea agreement.

Nadler said the DOJ’s move demonstrated the politicization of the top federal law enforcement agency under Trump. 

“Flynn PLEADED GUILTY to lying to investigators,” Nadler also said on Twitter. “The evidence against him is overwhelming. Now, a politicized DOJ is dropping the case.”

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The top Democrat followed up with a statement, calling the evidence against Flynn "overwhelming."

"A politicized and thoroughly corrupt Department of Justice is going to let the President’s crony simply walk away," Nadler said. "We are not supposed to get special treatment because we are friends with the President or refused to cooperate with federal investigators on his behalf. 

"The integrity of our criminal justice system is at stake, and the American people deserve answers," he added. "I will also ask the Inspector General for the Department of Justice to investigate this matter." 

Meanwhile, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGrenell says intelligence community working to declassify Flynn-Kislyak transcripts Democrats call for probe into ouster of State Dept. watchdog GOP lawmakers say they don't want to put Steve King back on committees MORE (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said the decision reflected “the worst politicization of the Justice Department in its history.”

“Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his illicit Russian contacts. His lies do not now become truths,” Schiff said in a tweet. “This dismissal does not exonerate him. But it does incriminate Bill Barr.”

In a court filing Thursday, the DOJ said newly uncovered FBI documents showed the investigation into Flynn was handled improperly and revealed that agents had misgivings about whether they believed Flynn had lied during his interview.

DOJ lawyers told the court that the FBI had initially moved to close the investigation in 2016 after finding a lack of evidence, but that the case remained open by mistake. 

Flynn would later provide agents a description of a conversation he had with a Russian diplomat in the weeks before Trump's inauguration that prosecutors considered to be false and misleading, leading to Flynn’s guilty plea.

Some legal experts expressed dismay over the department’s change in course.

“It is highly unusual to dismiss a case after a defendant has pleaded guilty in open court,” said Barbara McQuade, a law professor at Michigan University and former federal prosecutor. “There is nothing in the public record to justify this dismissal.” 

-- Updated at 4:59 p.m.

Harper Neidig contributed.