Attorney General Bill Barr has brought in outside prosecutors to review the decisions made by the DOJ attorneys who have been handling the Michael Flynn case and other politically sensitive matters — some publicly known, some not — coming from within the U.S. Attorneys office in D.C, the New York Times and NBC News reported Friday.
According to the Times report, line prosecutors — meaning the career DOJ officials who handle prosecutions on a day to day basis — have faced questioning from prosecutors installed by Barr about what steps they have taken in the cases and why those steps were taken.
The questioning started two weeks ago, according to the Times. Among the outside prosecutors who have been brought to review the D.C. U.S Attorney’s office work are Jeff Jensen, the U.S. Attorney in St. Louis, as well as officials working under Jeffrey A. Rosen, Barr’s hand-picked Deputy Attorney General.
NBC News reported that Jenson’s probe specifically concerned the circumstances surrounding the FBI’s January 2017 interview of Flynn, when he allegedly lied about his Russia dealings. Flynn’s supporters have often claimed that he was “ambushed” in the interview, which led him to commit a falsehood.
The Flynn case is one of several highly politically sensitive matters that have come under scrutiny in recent days due to turmoil at the federal prosecutors’ office in D.C. The former U.S. Attorney for D.C., Jessie Liu, was maneuvered out of her role last month and was replaced by an adviser of Barr’s, Timothy Shea, on an interim basis. Liu had been nominated for a Treasury Department post, but that nomination was pulled by the President last week after a controversy blew up around the Roger Stone case, which is also being prosecuted by the D.C. U.S attorney’s office.
In that case, Barr intervened to watered down the sentencing recommendation made by the career prosecutors who had been handling the day to day of the case. Both the Stone and Flynn cases are relics of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Liu, who oversaw the cases as U.S. Attorney after Mueller stepped down, left the administration this week when her Treasury nomination was withdrawn.
Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians, though his sentencing has been delayed several times in the ensuing months for various reasons, including a change in legal representation and, in mid-January, the announcement that he sought to withdraw his guilty plea.
In late January — roughly when, per the Times, the prosecutors selected by Barr began reviewing Flynn’s case — the former national security adviser accused prosecutors of manipulating and withholding evidence in his case and made a motion to dismiss it entirely.
On Jan. 29, prosecutors said that probation would be a “reasonable” sentence for Flynn. That was a step back from an earlier sentencing recommendation memo that recommended prison time.