In an op-ed written for The New York Times on Sunday, a former top Justice Department official accused the department of twisting and misconstruing her words to make the case that former national security adviser Michael Flynn should not be prosecuted for lying to the FBI.
The former acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary McCord, in the op-ed, accused officials of a “disingenuous” use of statements she made following her retirement from the Justice Department to explain why the department wouldn’t pursue charges against Flynn anymore. Dismissing the case against Flynn on Thursday, Barr, and acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Timothy Shea cited an interview with McCord over two dozen times to imply 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” Russian Ambassador to the U.S. at the time, Sergey Kislyak, McCord continued.
She explained her belief the FBI mishandled the Flynn investigation by not coordinating his interview with the Justice Department. However, she made it clear that she didn’t believe the agencies had no reason to suspect Flynn of possible criminal activity.
“It has no bearing on whether Mr. Flynn’s lies to the F.B.I. were material to the clear counterintelligence threat posed by the susceptible position Mr. Flynn put himself in when he told Mr. Pence and others in the new administration that he had not discussed the sanctions with Mr. Kislyak. The materiality is obvious,” she concluded.
Attorney General Barr defended his decision to end the Justice Department’s prosecution of Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators initially but in recent months has sought to change his plea.
“I’m doing the law’s bidding. I’m doing my duty under the law, as I see it,” Barr said in an interview Thursday.
“I made clear during my confirmation hearing that I was gonna look into what happened in 2016 and ’17. I made that crystal clear,” he continued. “I was very concerned about what happened. I was gonna get to the bottom of it. And that included the treatment of Gen. Flynn.”