Attorney General William Barr has been drawing a great deal of criticism for the Barr-era U.S. Department of Justice’s recent motion to drop the federal case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016. And almost 1200 former federal prosecutors, ex-DOJ officials and legal experts are speaking out and urging Judge Emmet Sullivan not to cave in.
On May 20, the DOJ alumni signed a legal brief asking Sullivan to conduct “a searching review of the government’s request to protect the public interest in the even-handed enforcement of our laws.” The author of the brief was Andrew Crespo, who is now a law professor at Harvard University in Massachusetts.
“I used to be a public defender, which means my job was to go up against prosecutors — not to represent them,” Crespo explained. “But the rule of law and the norm against political interference at the Department of Justice need defending too.”
A prominent theme in the document is the U.S. has long been a country committed to “the rule of law.”
In a preliminary section, the filing notes, “Driven by their respect for the (DOJ) and the rule of law, and drawing on their nearly 14,300 cumulative years of experience enforcing the federal criminal laws, (the former DOJ employees) seek to aid the court in its resolution of the pending motion to dismiss. Because the government and (Flynn) agree that the case should be dismissed, the court lacks the benefit of opposing interests as it considers the questions now before it. (The former employees) hope to assist in filling that gap.”
The brief goes on to say, “(If), after considering the government’s arguments and gathering evidence, the court concludes that the motion to dismiss is motivated by improper political considerations or otherwise contravenes the public interest, the court should deny the motion and proceed in due course to sentencing.”
Lying to the FBI, the brief stresses, is unacceptable — regardless of what the Barr-era DOJ is now saying.
“(The) government’s extraordinary argument that it is lawful for a witness — a government employee, no less — to lie to the FBI about contacts with a high-ranking representative of a hostile foreign power simply cannot hold water,” the former federal prosecutors and DOJ alumni asserted. “Indeed, the argument is so transparently untenable that it would seemingly make sense only as pretext for some other, unstated rationale for seeking dismissal of this case.”