Former DOJ official: Department twisted my words in motion to drop Flynn case

The Hill reports former top Justice Department official in an op-ed for The New York Times on Sunday accused the department of twisting her words in order to make the case that former national security adviser Michael Flynn should not be prosecuted for lying to the FBI.

In the column, former acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary McCord accused top officials of a “disingenuous” use of statements she made to the Justice Department following her retirement from the agency in order to explain why the department would no longer pursue charges against Flynn. In a motion to dismiss the case against Flynn on Thursday, Barr and acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Timothy Shea cited an interview with McCord more than two dozen times to suggest that the FBI’s interview with Flynn was unwarranted.

“The account of my interview in 2017 doesn’t help the department support this conclusion, and it is disingenuous for the department to twist my words to suggest that it does,” McCord wrote.

“What the account of my interview describes is a difference of opinion about what to do with the information that Mr. Flynn apparently had lied to the incoming vice president, Mr. Pence, and others in the incoming administration about whether he had discussed the Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia in his calls with” then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, McCord continued.

Mary B. McCord writes:

At the direction of Attorney General Bill Barr, the Justice Department last week moved to dismiss a false-statements charge against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser. The reason stated was that the continued prosecution “would not serve the interests of justice.”

The motion was signed by Timothy Shea, a longtime trusted adviser of Mr. Barr and, since January, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington. In attempting to support its argument, the motion cites more than 25 times the F.B.I.’s report of an interview with me in July 2017, two months after I left a decades-long career at the department (under administrations of both parties) that culminated in my role as the acting assistant attorney general for national security.

That report, commonly referred to as a “302,” is an interesting read. It vividly describes disagreements between leadership of the Justice Department and the F.B.I. about how to handle the information we had learned about Mr. Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and, more specifically, Mr. Flynn’s apparent lies about those calls to incoming Vice President Mike Pence.

But the report of my interview is no support for Mr. Barr’s dismissal of the Flynn case. It does not suggest that the F.B.I. had no counterintelligence reason for investigating Mr. Flynn. It does not suggest that the F.B.I.’s interview of Mr. Flynn — which led to the false-statements charge — was unlawful or unjustified. It does not support that Mr. Flynn’s false statements were not material. And it does not support the Justice Department’s assertion that the continued prosecution of the case against Mr. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to knowingly making material false statements to the FBI, “would not serve the interests of justice.”

Read more here.