In other news, it turns out that the earth is not flat.
Lying to the FBI is a crime. There is a materiality requirement; if you tell the FBI that you had cornflakes for breakfast when you had raisin bran, they can’t indict you. But as a lawyer who has argued materiality in a number of cases, I can tell you that beyond what kind of cereal you have, there is very little that is not material. A lie is material not only if it is relevant to the investigation but if the FBI says the lie caused the FBI to affect the course or focus of its investigation or fail to pursue certain lines of inquiry.
Barr asserted that the government already had the transcript of the conversation so there was no reason to interview him. They knew he had talked to the Russian Ambassador and what was said — basically, don’t worry about responding to Obama’s throwing out of Russian diplomats (or spies undercover) because when we come into office, we’ll fix it all up.
But the FBI had been investigating Russian interference in the Trump campaign. And here is the incoming National Security Advisor telling the Russian Ambassador that good times are gonna roll for Russia when the Trump team arrives. On whose behalf was Flynn offering the goodies? Was he acting on his own? Unlikely. Was he instructed by President-elect Trump to let the Russian ambassador know? And if so, why? Was there, to use a phrase, a quid pro quo? Pretty good questions.
For Barr to claim there was no need to ask whether there was contact because the government already knew, is to limit the purpose of the interview to a single question. Not only does the FBI ask questions it knows the answer to all the time, such a question would be a logical entry point to the questions of why this was occurring when there was still a president in the Oval Office whose policies were entitled not to be undermined by the incoming administration.
[W]hat Barr did was the worst harm that could be done to the republic: politicizing prosecution so that the friends of the Dear Leader get off and the enemies of the Dear Leader get prosecuted.
Monday, May 11, 2020
William Barr's debasement of the Justice Department
The Independent has an excellent and detailed deconstruction of the idea that William Barr was justified in dropping the charges against Michael Flynn: