Former President Barack Obama on Friday, May 8, reacted to the Department of Justice’s decision to drop criminal charges against former National Security Adviser and retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, saying, the “rule of law is at risk.”
“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed—about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said, according to an audio call obtained by Yahoo News.
“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic—not just institutional norms—but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places,” he continued.
Exclusive: Obama, in private talk with ex-aides, says “the rule of law is at risk” in Flynn case and calls Trump response to pandemic an “absolute chaotic disaster.” Listen to the tape: https://t.co/HUOXFvPI1m
— Michael Isikoff (@Isikoff) May 9, 2020
The Justice Department on Thursday moved to drop Flynn’s charges, stating 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 was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”
Documents that were released Thursday as exhibits to the government’s motion to dismiss the Flynn case showed that Obama knew about the FBI’s wiretapping on Flynn’s phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Obama had warned then-President-elect Donald Trump about hiring Flynn two days after the election, saying he and his staff “felt Flynn was problematic and prone to what they thought of as crazy ideas.” He had fired Flynn from his job as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, citing insubordination.
The newly declassified documents showed that at the Jan. 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting, Obama met with people in his administration including FBI Director James Comey, Vice President Joe Biden, CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and National Security Adviser Susan Rice and other members of the national security council to discuss Russian election interference.
Rice then wrote in an unusual email to herself about the meeting, noting that Obama wanted his staffers to be “mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia,” as they worked with Trump team.
“A clearer picture is emerging of the drastic steps that were taken to accomplish Obama’s goal in the following weeks and months. Shortly thereafter, high-level operatives began intensely leaking selective information supporting a supposed Russia-Trump conspiracy theory, the incoming National Security Adviser [Flynn] was ambushed, and the incoming Attorney General [Jeff Sessions] was forced to recuse himself from oversight of investigations of President Trump,” wrote The Federalist‘s Mollie Hemingway.
“At each major point in the operation, explosive media leaks were a key strategy in the operation to take down Trump,” she added and proceeded to point to major leaks to The Washington Post, CNN, and the New York Times that led to Flynn’s firing, and Sessions’s recusal.