Robert F. Jakubowicz: Flynn, Trump cronies, must pay for crimes
PITTSFIELD — The Michael Flynn case is a good example of President Donald Trump's self-serving view of the rule of law. It consists of disparaging law enforcement personnel, threatening them, firing them, and packing chief law enforcement positions with those who will do his bidding. This case is a preview of what the reelection of Trump will likely mean for one of our cherished and fundamental principles that we pledge allegiance to, namely, "justice for all." Under Trump it will become "justice" for friends and cronies of the president.
As a former prosecutor and a former FBI agent, I take great umbrage over President Trump calling all the law enforcement officials involved in the criminal prosecution of Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security advisor, "human scum," and threatening them by saying that a lot of people involved in that case would pay a price. Flynn had pled guilty in that case of lying to FBI agents which is a federal crime. His lies have not been refuted and still stand! But now before the judge has imposed a sentence on Flynn, Trump's Justice Department, headed by his enabler Attorney General William Barr, has asked the judge to dismiss the charge. This request was highly praised by Trump. He said that Flynn was an "innocent man targeted by Obama to try to take down a president." He claimed that Flynn was "essentially exonerated."
In this case, FBI agents in the course of their investigation of Russian involvement and influence in the 2016 presidential race had found contacts between Flynn and the then Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. These conversations included matters of American policy. These conversations took place during the presidential transition period in December 2016 from the Obama presidency to the Trump presidency. At that time, Flynn was a prominent member of the Trump transition team and in line for the key administration post of national security advisor.
These contacts by Flynn were obvious good leads to follow in the ongoing investigation and also raised questions about what should be done about Flynn. This is borne out by what has been referred to in the media as a purported note about the interview goal left by the agents Should it be to find the truth and get an admission by Flynn, get him to lie to the agents so he could be prosecuted, or get him fired?
Flynn lied to the agents and the matter was referred to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. Flynn was eventually charged with violating the federal crime of "knowingly and willfully" making a "material false statement" to the FBI agents. Flynn then agreed to a plea deal including cooperation with Mueller's team in its investigation. Flynn pled guilty to the charge which he reaffirmed under oath before a federal judge. This caused bad publicity for the newly elected President Trump who fired him because he lied to the vice president and the FBI.
In the meantime Barr, at the time a former attorney general, wrote a legal memorandum that got the attention of Trump. Barr claimed that there was no legal justification for any investigation of the matter of a Russian intervention in the 2016 election.. This memo led to Barr's appointment as attorney general by Trump. And now Trump's and Barr's Justice Department has moved to dismiss the case against Flynn.
FLYNN LIED TO FBI
This legal claim, that is nothing more than Barr's personal opinion, is echoed in the motion to dismiss Flynn's case. It states that since there was no legitimate basis for the FBI investigation and interview initially, the government does not believe Flynn's statements to the FBI agents were material even if they were not true. This is also nothing more than an opinion by Barr's Justice Department. Adding to the legal nonsense, retired Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz offered his opinion that since the FBI agents knew in advance about the contact with Kislyak and gave Flynn the opportunity to lie on the record about it, it was not a crime. This legal reasoning stunned former federal prosecutors such as Chuck Rosenberg, a former U. S. Attorney and FBI official as well as many others.
Flynn lied to the FBI. It is a crime to lie to the FBI. Flynn's lie has not been refuted. But apparently the president is so bent on trying to erase anything on the record that involves him or those close to him regarding any Russian influence in his election that he has no problem with the matter of justice so long as it is enforced to satisfy his whims.
The trial judge in the Flynn case should not grant this motion to dismiss the case and the voters should not reelect Trump so Americans can continue to pledge their allegiance to a country that features "justice for all."
Robert "Frank" Jakubowicz is a regular contributor to the Eagle.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.