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Former Acting U.S. Solicitor General: ‘Never Seen Anything Like’ Ex-DOJ Lawyers’ Public Backlash Against Barr

A former acting U.S. Solicitor General said the backlash in the op-ed pages against Attorney General William Barr over the Justice Department’s decision to drop the criminal case against Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was unlike anything he had ever encountered.

Neal Katyal on Monday pointed to three op-eds penned by former high-ranking DOJ officials, all of which condemned the department’s decision in no uncertain terms.

“The combo of these 3 pieces about DOJ dropping the Flynn charges is astounding,” the Supreme Court litigator wrote, adding, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

In the first piece highlighted by Katyal, former acting assistant attorney general for national security Mary B. McCord discussed the 2017 interviews which prompted the false statements that Flynn went on to plead guilty to making. McCord said Barr and the DOJ twisted her work to support efforts to clear Flynn’s name.

The DOJ cited to records of McCord’s interviews with Flynn more than 25 times in its motion to drop the charges, saying her report showed there was no counter-intelligence reason for investigating the then-National Security Advisor. McCord said that was false.

“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,” she 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. [Mike] Pence, and others in the incoming administration about whether he had discussed the Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia in his calls with Mr. [Sergey] Kislyak. Those apparent lies prompted Mr. Pence and others to convey inaccurate statements about the nature of the conversations in public news conferences and interviews.”

Katyal also drew attention to an op-ed authored by Jonathan Kravis, the former federal prosecutor who resigned in protest after the DOJ intervened in former Trump advisor Roger Stone’s criminal case. Kravis called the DOJ’s decision in the Flynn case “appalling,” saying that Barr abandoned the mission of “equal justice under the law” by giving special treatment to an ally of the president.

The third reproach of the DOJ came from Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney, former senior FBI official, and former acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Rosenberg said the DOJ’s attempt to re-categorize Flynn’s false statements about his conversation with a Russian diplomat and his financial ties to Russia as “not material” was absurd.

“Now, in a stunningly dishonest intervention orchestrated by Attorney General William P. Barr, the Justice Department posits that Flynn’s false statements were not material and that the charge to which he pleaded guilty should be dismissed,” he wrote. He also included a long list of government officials, including the president, the vice president, the acting attorney general, and two federal judges–all of whom also previously said Flynn’s lies were “material” to the investigation.

Rosenberg then said the list of people who do not think Flynn’s statement was material includes Barr, “who orchestrated this stunning reversal with the assistance of his underlings” and President Trump. It should be noted that Jeffrey Jensen, the U.S. Attorney who Barr tasked with reviewing the Flynn case, recommended the motion to dismiss.

“Trump, who now says he is ‘very happy’ for Flynn and that the people who prosecuted him are ‘human scum,’” Rosenberg wrote, before concluding with an ominous quote. “Yes, Trump made both lists. ‘It’s a beautiful thing,’ George Orwell wrote, ‘the destruction of words.’”

Also on Monday, more than 1,900 former DOJ employees signed an open letter condemning the DOJ’s decision and called for Judge Emmitt Sullivan to hold an evidentiary hearing “to closely examine the Department’s stated rationale for dismissing the charges.”

“Make no mistake: The Department’s action is extraordinarily rare, if not unprecedented,” the former officials wrote. “If any of us, or anyone reading this statement who is not a friend of the President, were to lie to federal investigators in the course of a properly predicated counterintelligence investigation, and admit we did so under oath, we would be prosecuted for it.”

[Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.