Monday, June 29, 2020

Russiagate: Flynn Fiasco Heating Up Again

It looks like pundits are getting set for the next step in the Flynn saga. Will Judge Sullivan accept his rebuke, however sulkily, and just dismiss the case like the Appeals Court told him to, or will he appeal to the main body of the court, or even the Supreme Court. I'll bet he appeals. He's lost any pretense of being non-partisan, so now, all he can do for the cause is stall as long as possible. My uneducated guess is something will happen this week. Insty cites a big chunk of Kimberly Strassel at WSJ in KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: Judging FBI Conduct: The D.C. Circuit becomes the first court to acknowledge the FBI’s 2016 abuse.
The Justice Department’s credibility was at stake here. Judge Sullivan bought into the same Democratic conspiracy theories, which is why he refused Justice’s motion to dismiss and appointed retired judge John Gleeson to act as shadow prosecutor. He argued the Justice Department wasn’t entitled to the usual “presumption of regularity.” And if the circuit judges thought there was anything to claims that Mr. Barr was playing political favorites, it could have allowed the process to continue.

Instead they bluntly noted that there was no “legitimate basis” to question the department’s behavior. They even slapped Mr. Gleeson for relying on “news stories, tweets and other facts outside the record.” By contrast, Judge Rao’s opinion notes: “The government’s motion includes an extensive discussion of newly discovered evidence casting Flynn’s guilt into doubt.” It points out that this includes “evidence of misconduct by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” It finishes by noting that each government branch must be encouraged to “self correct when it errs.”

The court’s conclusion is obvious. All it had to do was look at the voluminous evidence the Justice Department supplied. Its briefs proved the FBI had improperly pursued Mr. Flynn, keeping open an investigation that produced no evidence, ginning up a “violation” of the seldom-enforced Logan Act, sandbagging Mr. Flynn with an interview that had no “legitimate investigative basis.” It even provided new FBI notes this week suggesting that then-President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were improperly engaged in the investigation. The department’s filings showed that the Mueller team had consistently denied defense attorneys exculpatory information. And it explained the straightforward process by which it had reached its decision to withdraw: Mr. Barr in February appointed veteran U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen to review the case, and in May Mr. Jensen concluded dismissal was “the proper and just course.”
One of the last honest liberals, Jonathon Turley writes “Irreparable Harm”: How The Flynn Case Became A Dangerous Game Of Legal Improvisation
This record proved too much for the appellate court. Rather than order Sullivan off the case, it decided to order Sullivan to dismiss the case. Short of an order of actual recusal of a judge, a mandamus order is the most stinging indictment of the handling of a case that can come from an appellate court.

The ruling in this case is unlikely to force any real circumspection by legal analysts or the media in the prior coverage. Nuanced legal questions quickly evaporate in this age of rage. Conflicting case law is dismissed in favor of the clarity demanded by echo journalism. The law however brings its own clarity and the message of this opinion could not be clearer. Sullivan’s actions in the case did not spell “trouble” for the Trump administration, but rather, they spelled trouble for the administration of justice in our court system.
At De Federalist, John Lucas thinks the  DC Court Of Appeals Blasts Judge Sullivan For Michael Flynn Power Grabs
He now has a choice. He can obey the order from the appeals court. Or he can continue his unconstitutional attempt to seize more power — power not authorized by the Constitution — by seeking to overturn the court’s opinion and continuing the unlawful persecution of Flynn.
Hot Air catches the NYT whining about  How Michael Flynn’s Defense Team Found Powerful Allies
Asking for “utmost confidentiality,” Ms. Powell told Mr. Barr that the case against Mr. Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser who had pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I., smacked of “corruption of our beloved government institutions for what appears to be political purposes.” She asked the attorney general to appoint an outsider to review the case, confident that such scrutiny would justify ending it.

Mr. Barr did what she wanted. He appointed a U.S. attorney six months later to scour the Flynn case file with a skeptical eye for documents that could be turned over as helpful to the defense. Ultimately, Mr. Barr directed the department to drop the charge, one of his numerous steps undercutting the work of the Russia investigation and the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
Speaking of whining, the WaPoo chief fact spinner Glenn Kessler wrote a missive Michael Flynn, Barack Obama and Trump’s claims of ‘treason’, without the usual Pinocchios.

NYPo editorial board, Fresh evidence Obama ordered up the phony Russiagate scandal
Notes handwritten by (now disgraced) FBI agent Peter Strzok show Obama, with then-Veep Joe Biden playing along, encouraging the FBI and Justice Department’s investigation of Flynn, even as they were told his actions “appear legit.”

The document, plainly Strzok’s notes of FBI chief Jim Comey’s account, offer more details of the Jan. 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting of Obama, Biden, Comey, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

On learning that the FBI was set to close its investigation into Flynn after finding no evidence of wrongdoing, Obama and Biden suggested finding ways to keep it open, with Biden bringing up the (dead letter) Logan Act.

More, the notes have Obama ordering the continued investigation be kept secret from the incoming president and his people: “Make sure you look at things and have the right people on it.”
. . .
Biden told ABC last month, “I know nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn.” Was he lying, or has his memory grown that bad?
Embrace the healing power of "and."

And what was Gen. Flynn's real crime? Before ‘takedown’ of General Flynn, he was planning to audit John Brennan for running billions ‘off the books’ (Lifezette). What's the fun of being CIA Director without a few billion bucks in off the book accounts to play with?
Sidney Powell, attorney for retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, said her client, in his duties as the White House national security adviser, was prepared to “audit” the U.S. intelligence community.

That, according to the former federal prosecutor, is partly why federal agents “set up” Flynn.

“He was going to audit the intel agencies because he knew about the billions Brennan and company were running off the books,” Powell said, referring to former CIA Director John Brennan.
Roger Kimball at AmGreat writes A Coup Against Our Institutions "The systematic campaign to undermine an incoming presidential administration through politicized investigations is a true constitutional crisis."
Nota bene “the peaceful and unobstructed transition of power from one presidential administration to the next. . . is the crown jewel of the American constitutional system.”

“Is” or “was”?
Jonathon Turely, again, this time from atop Da Hill, Think twice about why the media attacks William Barr
While I have publicly criticized Barr for some of his policies and actions, he is someone I have known personally for years and even represented with other attorneys general during the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton. Piling on Barr has never been more popular today, but the basis for this criticism has never been weaker. Three stories seemed to entirely break free from factual or legal moorings, and no one seemed to care.

The case of Michael Flynn has been in the media, including the hearing exploring the involvement of Barr. Of course, for Barr to be immoral, the case must be portrayed as virtually immaculate. The media coverage has steadfastly ignored disclosures about officials pushing unrelentingly for any criminal charge to use on Flynn, allegedly withholding exculpatory evidence, and giving misleading statements to the trial court.

Confirming the facts seems irrelevant to the criticism. My colleagues at George Washington University signed a letter denouncing him over the case despite new developments. The letter is written well and raises a number of legitimate issues. But some of us felt it reached conclusions before establishing any facts. It praised the work of retired Judge John Gleeson, an appointment by Judge Emmet Sullivan that some criticized. Gleeson argued against the dismissal of the case against Flynn. It stated that the brief by Gleeson showed “gross prosecutorial abuse.”

The faculty concluded it was thus established that “the attorney general once again sought to do a favor for the president.” A day after the letter was signed, the circuit court issued an opinion that ordered Sullivan to dismiss the case against Flynn and criticized the brief as an example of the “irregular” course of conduct by Sullivan. It noted that the brief by Gleeson was based on little more than the stories and facts “outside the record” to contrast the government grounds for dismissal.

New evidence further supports the Justice Department position that no legitimate investigation was tied to the original interview of Flynn, a key portion of a prosecution. Notes from fired agent Peter Strzok reveal that former director James Comey told President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that the call between Flynn and the Russian ambassador was legitimate from the start. Yet officials continued to find a way to charge Flynn on any crime, including violations of the Logan Act.

Next is the issue of Geoffrey Berman. Barr said he was “stepping down” as the United States attorney for Manhattan to make way for Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Clayton wanted to return to New York and expressed an interest in the position. Barr had told Berman that he and Trump wanted the men to swap positions, or Berman could take over the civil division of the Justice Department.

Berman wanted to think about it, but Barr announced it. Berman issued a statement which strongly suggests his removal was an effort to influence investigations of Trump associates. The media exploded and some called for the impeachment of Barr. Meanwhile, some journalists had confirmed that the move had nothing to do with those investigations.

There is no credible allegation that Barr has hampered the investigations since becoming attorney general, and he told the United States attorneys in Manhattan to report any kind of interference to the Justice Department inspector general. I do not agree that Clayton is the best candidate for the spot. But the substantive question is whether, as reported, Barr was trying to influence the investigations of Trump associates. There is no evidence, but plenty of media coverage, to support that proposition.'
The Peacock wonders  If the Deep State hates Trump, why aren't more officials speaking out like Bolton? "Analysis: If John Bolton is telling the truth, plenty of career diplomats, soldiers and spies have kept silent while watching Trump abuse his office. Why?" "If" covers a lot of ground here. Why won't the Democrats subpoena him? There's now a long record of their witness saying one thing in public, and another thing under oath. The real reason is that bureaucrats are, for the most part, inherently cowards. They didn't go into government service to risk their careers, they did it for the security.

Oh goody! From Sophia Mann at JTN, Complaint filed against former Mueller prosecutor Zelinsky alleging misconduct in Stone case
he National Legal and Policy Center, in conjunction with Andrew Miller, a former aide to Roger Stone, filed a complaint against one of Stone's prosecutors who worked with Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the case against Stone.

Miller and the NLPC are alleging that prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky engaged in ethical misconduct pertaining to the use of a grand jury in the case against Stone.

The 17-page complaint accuses Zelinsky of misleading the court in 2019, in addition to switching grand juries without informing Miller, who was testifying, his attorney or the court.

"Mr. Zelinsky abused the grand jury by seeking Mr. Miller’s testimony long after Mr. Stone was indicted, which violates Department of Justice policy prohibiting gathering evidence on a defendant after indictment, unless the government was seeking evidence for new crimes against Mr. Stone or other targets. Neither exception appeared to be the case," said Paul Kamenar, a National Legal and Policy Center attorney and counsel for Miller.

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