Former President Barack Obama gave a stark warning on Friday about the national crisis that could arise after President Donald Trump’s Justice Department made the shocking decision to drop its case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn this week.
“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said during a private Obama Alumni Association virtual discussion, per an audio recording published by Yahoo News.
The former president said Flynn’s case is “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,” he warned.
Obama, whose former vice president Joe Biden is currently running for president, stressed the urgency of defeating Trump in November.
“This election that’s coming up on every level is so important because what we’re going to be battling is not just a particular individual or a political party,” he told event attendees. “What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy–that has become a stronger impulse in American life.”
On Thursday, the Justice Department dropped its case against Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, sending shockwaves throughout the legal and political arena.
Prior to the department’s reversal, which was brought on by Attorney General Bill Barr, Trump had repeatedly trashed the investigators in Flynn’s case and bemoaned how his former adviser’s life had been “ruined.”
The President cheered the Justice Department’s decision on Thursday, calling Flynn “an innocent man” despite the adviser’s guilty plea.