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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Barr's Action in Michael Flynn's Prosecution Mirrors What the Obama Administration Did in the Cases of Ted Stevens and James E. Cartwright

Photo by: Michael A. McCoy
Former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. pulled the plug on prosecuting Sen. Ted Stevens in 2009. The move is being compared to the Michael Flynn case. (Associated Press)

May 14, 2020

GOP senators hit the gas on Obama-era probesby Jordain Carney, The Hill

May 13, 2020

Biden Named in List of Obama Officials Who Requested to ‘Unmask’ Flynn
By , National Review

Trump administration sends list to Congress of Obama officials who 'unmasked' Flynn

 May 12, 2020:

Grenell Declassifies Names of Obama Officials Behind Michael Flynn Unmasking, Asks Barr to Release Them
Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has declassified a list of Obama administration officials who were behind the “unmasking” of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Multiple reports have cited U.S. officials who say Grenell has handed over the list to attorney general Bill Barr, who could release it “at any time.” Last week, the Justice Department dropped its case Flynn — who pled guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI — citing “newly discovered and disclosed information,”
American citizens whose communications are incidentally picked up by the intelligence community during surveillance are protected by law. But they can be unmasked by a select number of U.S. officials, and it is illegal to leak unmasked information or use it for political gain.
Former NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers testified in June 2017 that requests to unmask a U.S. citizen must be made “in writing” and “on the basis of your official duties.”
In March 2017, then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) warned that he had seen intelligence showing that “on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.”
"Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration; details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting,” Nunes explained. “ . . . I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition members were unmasked.”

A week after Nunes’s claims, former national security adviser Susan Rice told MSNBC in an interview that it was “absolutely false” the Obama administration utilized the reports for “political purposes,” but admitted that the Obama presidential daily briefing contained unmaskings.

“I received those reports, as did other officials, and there were occasions when I would receive a report in which a ‘U.S Person’ was referred to — name not provided, just ‘U.S. Person,’” Rice explained. “And sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance in the report – and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out or request, who that U.S. official was.”
Official stats from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence show that the National Security Agency, which monitors overseas communications, unmasked an American’s identity approximately 9,200 times in 2016 and 9,500 in 2017. There were about 17,000 such actions in 2018 and 10,000 in 2019.

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller, President Barack Obama, and James Comey
June 2013.
NY POST Editorial Board, May 11, 2020

Eric Holder's handling of Ted Stevens case points to hypocrisy in Obama criticism of Flynn case

Stevens case shows striking parallels

President Obama lambasted the Justice Department’s abandonment of criminal charges against Michael Flynn as unprecedented, but his Justice Department did the same thing in another highly politicized criminal case.

In April 2009, then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. pulled the plug on the prosecution of Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, a liberal Republican who sided with Democrats on key issues including climate change and abortion.

The comparisons between Mr. Stevens and Flynn are striking. Both men faced the same criminal charges of making false statements, the same judge, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, handled both cases, and each had their criminal prosecution undone by a handwritten note that was buried by federal prosecutors.

Still, in a call Friday with thousands of supporters listening, Mr. Obama railed that Attorney General William Barr undermined the “rule of law” by dropping the charges against Flynn, who previously served as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser.

“There is no precedent that anybody can find for somebody who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free,” Mr. Obama said.

Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, said it was “curious” Mr. Obama forgot the Stevens case.

“The Justice Department has dismissed cases in the past including the Stevens case. That was requested by President Obama’s own Attorney General Eric Holder for the same reason: misconduct by prosecutors. It was done before the same judge, Judge Sullivan. How is that for precedent,” he tweeted.

Even Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, brought up the parallels between Stevens and Flynn shortly after Mr. Obama’s comments.

“Guessing Judge Sullivan remembers dismissing the bogus and corrupted prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens for the same reasons on motion by Eric Holder — then the new AG for Obama,” she tweeted.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Although the Stevens prosecution began under President George W. Bush, conservatives at the time grumbled the case may have been initiated by left-leaning prosecutors looking to flip his Senate seat.
Mr. Holder dropped the criminal charges against Mr. Stevens nearly seven months after he was convicted by a federal jury. He cited allegations that prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence.

Federal prosecutors accused Mr. Stevens of failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts from an oil company executive, including home repairs and a deal in which Mr. Stevens swapped a 1964 Ford Mustang for a new 1999 Land Rover Discovery.
They also accused him of lying to the FBI investigators.

Mr. Stevens was convicted a week before the 2008 elections, ruining a bid to retain his Senate seat. He died two years later in an airplane crash.

An FBI whistleblower came forward in February 2009, alleging prosecutors and FBI agents conspired to conceal evidence that could have exonerated Mr. Stevens.
Among the evidence buried by prosecutors was a handwritten note Stevens wrote to the oil company executive requesting a bill for the home renovations that showed he wanted it done ethically.

As the case against Mr. Stevens began to crumble, Mr. Holder had seen enough and threw in the towel.

“I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial,” he said.

Mr. Barr’s statement on dismissing the Flynn case mirrored the comments by his predecessor nearly a decade earlier.

“Once I saw all the facts and some of the tactics used by the FBI in this instance and also the legal problems in this case, it was an easy decision [to drop the charges]” he said.

Ultimately Judge Sullivan appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the Justice Department’s handling of the Stevens case. In 2012, the prosecutor issued a blistering report, detailing multiple failings by the FBI and federal prosecutors.

Some of Mr. Trump’s allies have been whispering their hope that Judge Sullivan also appoints a prosecutor in the Flynn case.

Last week, Mr. Barr dropped the case after two bombshell court documents filed earlier this month raised questions about whether federal prosecutors had turned over evidence favorable to Flynn.

The concealed documents included a handwritten note by a top FBI official questioning whether the goal of interviewing Flynn was to get him to lie so he could be prosecuted. An internal FBI document also publicly revealed that the bureau sought to close the case against Flynn, but anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok pushed to keep it open.

Photo by: Evan Vucci
Retired Marine Corps Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a close military adviser to President Obama, was reportedly the target of a Justice Department criminal investigation into leaks to The New York Times. (Associated Press)

- The Washington Times - Monday, May 11, 2020

Former President Barack Obama said he couldn’t think of a case where someone got off “scot-free” for lying to the FBI.
He pardoned just such a man.
Retired Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright pleaded guilty in late 2016 to lying to the agency about his discussions with reporters about Iran’s nuclear program, specifically whether he had leaked classified information about a joint U.S.-Israel operation against it. 

According to a “flashback” post noted by PJ Media on Monday and linking to a contemporaneous New York Times report, Mr. Obama pardoned Gen. Cartwright in the waning days of his presidency less than a month before his scheduled sentencing.
The Times reported in 2017 that Gen. Cartwright, a former vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had “earned a reputation as the president’s favorite general” and was represented by longtime Democratic insider-lawyer Greg Craig.
Mr. Obama, however, had claimed in a phone conversation with former members of his administration last week that the Justice Department’s decision to drop charges against Gen. Michael Flynn was illegitimate and unprecedented.
“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Mr. Obama said in the leaked conversation.

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