Some conservatives are slamming AG Barr over the DOJ’s decision to drop the Flynn case

Some conservatives are slamming AG Barr over the DOJ’s decision to drop the Flynn case
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

The Trumpian right has been applauding the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for its decision to drop the federal case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pled guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about his communications with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But among Never Trump conservatives, the reaction has been much different — and Joe Scarborough, Jennifer Rubin and law professor Kim Wehle are among the non-Trumpian conservatives who have been slamming Attorney General William over the Flynn case.


On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Scarborough (a former GOP congressman) told fellow host Mika Brzezinski, “This is a shameful day for the Department of Justice, and that shame lies on the attorney general’s shoulders.” Barr, Scarborough asserted, has demonstrated that “he really is Donald Trump’s Roy Cohn” — a reference to the unscrupulous attorney who served as Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s chief legal counsel in 1954 and went on to represent Trump when he was accused of housing discrimination in the 1970s. Cohn died in 1986, and Trump still praises him many years later.

In her Washington Post column, Rubin denounced the Barr-era DOJ’s decision to drop the case against Flynn as an “assault on the rule of law by the most corrupt president and attorney general in history.”

“The Justice Department claims that the investigation into the now-former national security adviser was about to be dropped until the FBI interviewed Flynn, after discussing the possibility he might lie,” Rubin explained. “There is nothing untoward about this. It in no way should vitiate Flynn’s guilty plea.”

Rubin stressed that Barr’s loyalty is to Trump, not the rule of law.

“This is one more instance — along with the misleading presentation of the Mueller Report, reversing prosecutors’ sentencing recommendations for Trump confidant Roger Stone and refusing to investigate Trump’s extortion of Ukraine for political gain — in which Barr has acted contrary to his oath of office and to his professional obligations as a lawyer,” Rubin wrote. “He continues to serve President Trump’s interests — and, by extension, those of Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom Trump bizarrely discussed the Russia investigation in a phone call last year — and not the fair administration of justice.”\

After the demise of the Weekly Standard in 2018, The Bulwark (founded by Never Trump conservatives Bill Kristol and Charlie Sykes) became the go-to website for non-Trumpian commentary on the right. One of The Bulwark’s contributors is Wehle, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and author of the 2019 book, “How to Read the Constitution — and Why.” And Wehle, in a Bulwark article published on May 7, emphasized that Barr intervened on behalf of someone who admitted he was guilty of the crime he was accused of.

“Attorney General Bill Barr’s decision to throw his colleagues under the bus by moving to dismiss the criminal charges against former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn — who already pleaded guilty — is a doozy,” Wehle wrote. “Barr’s request has immediately been slayed in cyberspace for its political overtones, and for good reason.”

Wehle notes that the Flynn decision isn’t the first time the Barr-era DOJ has intervened on behalf of a Trumpista who faced criminal charges in federal court.

“Just three months ago, recall, the Department of Justice overrode a sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, another Trump ally indicted as a result of (former Special Counsel) Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the last presidential election,” Wehle explained. “With today’s announcement about the Flynn case, Barr has unabashedly destroyed any pretense of independent judgment on behalf of the DOJ. The federal law enforcement apparatus serves at the political whims and pleasures of the president. So much for DOJ’s stated mission of (ensuring) ‘fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.’”

Flynn’s “lies” to the FBI, according to Wehle, “went to the heart of Mueller’s mission, as authorized by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, to look into established interference by the Russians for the benefit of the Trump campaign.”

“Bill Barr’s shrugging off of Flynn’s established lying to Barr’s own FBI — and his nose-thumbing at his long-time friend and former colleague Robert Mueller’s careful work as a prosecutor with regulatory independence from Donald Trump — is a swipe at the heart of the rule of law in America,” Wehle wrote. “Once again, this administration’s self-dealing means that it now falls to the judicial system to remind us of the most fundamental of our collective values in the age of Trump.”

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