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Former President Barack Obama said on Friday that he was “worried” by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to drop the charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn this week after Attorney General William Barr said that “there was not a legitimate counterintelligence investigation going on.”
“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said. “And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”
Obama’s comments are misleading because former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe had said that the agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe that Flynn had lied.
“So I am hoping that all of you feel the same sense of urgency that I do,” Obama continued. “Whenever I campaign, I’ve always said, ‘Ah, this is the most important election.’ Especially obviously when I was on the ballot, that always feels like it’s the most important election. This one — I’m not on the ballot — but I am pretty darn invested. We got to make this happen.”
Exclusive: Obama, in private talk with ex-aides, says "the rule of law is at risk" in Flynn case and calls Trump response to pandemic an "absolute chaotic disaster." Listen to the tape: https://t.co/HUOXFvPI1m
— Michael Isikoff (@Isikoff) May 9, 2020
Documents that were unsealed on Friday showed that Obama knew about the FBI’s wiretapping of Flynn’s phone calls.
Fox News reported:
President Obama was aware of the details of then-incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn’s intercepted December 2016 phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, apparently surprising then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, according to documents released Thursday as exhibits to the government’s motion to dismiss the Flynn case.
Obama’s unexpectedly intimate knowledge of the details of Flynn’s calls, which the FBI acknowledged at the time were not criminal or even improper, raised eyebrows because of his own history with Flynn — and because top FBI officials secretly discussed whether their goal was to “get [Flynn] fired” when they interviewed him in the White House on January 24, 2017.
Obama personally had warned the Trump administration against hiring Flynn, and made clear he was “not a fan,” according to multiple officials. Obama had fired Flynn as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014; Obama cited insubordination, while Flynn asserted he was pushed out for his aggressive stance on combating lslamic extremism.
Obama’s remarks came after Comey appeared to try to undermine the legitimacy of the DOJ on Friday, writing on Twitter, “The DOJ has lost its way. But, career people: please stay because America needs you. The country is hungry for honest, competent leadership.”
The DOJ has lost its way. But, career people: please stay because America needs you. The country is hungry for honest, competent leadership.
— James Comey (@Comey) May 7, 2020
Barr said in an interview with CBS News investigative reporter Catherine Herridge that he believed the injustice against Flynn “came from the seventh floor” and further clarified his remark, saying, “I believe it’s Director Comey and the deputy’s office.”
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