The Michael Flynn Case Enters its Next Chapter

In Washington, the case of Michael Flynn is once again in the spotlight. While Attorney General William Barr instructed the Department of Justice to end the case, a federal judge has now instructed a retired judge to review the situation and thus making Flynn’s fate uncertain — all while President Donald Trump has begun to utilize the affair for his reelection efforts.

The Neverending Case of Michael Flynn

The unusual legal tug-of-war over President Trump’s former National Security Advisor does not appear set to end anytime soon. While the Justice Department via Attorney General William Barr had requested an end to the criminal proceedings, the responsible federal judge Emmet Sullivan has other ideas. Sullivan is not inclined to cease the proceedings without further ado.

On Wednesday evening, he ordered that a retired judge, John Gleeson, should now, among other things, assess the legal situation of the Flynn causa (cause and origin of the case), and to recommend whether Flynn should be subjected to the perpetration of a new charge of contempt for a criminal offence. Gleeson was also asked to explain why the Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss the Flynn case ought to be rejected.

Judge Sullivan’s actions are unusual. However, it can be argued that he is simply inclined to rebalance a justice system that, in the eyes of some, has been compromised in recent years. Attorney General Barr stands out for his previous intervention to end the trial, which will soon be three years old. Barr made it clear where his priorities were when the Mueller report was delayed when he turned the critical message completely, and then in his statements on impeachment. He intervened increasingly directly in trials against Trump’s allies, first in the case of Roger Stone, now in the case of Flynn.

Russiagate and Flynn

The matter had long been considered one of the more straightforward chapters in the affair surrounding Russian influence over the 2016 US presidential election. Michael Flynn, ex-general had not only conducted politically sensitive business with Turkey in 2016 without the necessary registration as a lobbyist but had suspiciously good relations with Moscow purportedly in order to prevent an escalation of tensions in bilateral relations after the Trump win in 2016.

Flynn admitted that he had lied to the FBI federal police during an investigation into Russian influence over the 2016 US presidential election. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 for telling the truth about his contacts with the Russian ambassador when he testified to the FBI in January of the same year. Flynn was forced to step down as security advisor to Republican Trump in February 2017 after only 23 days in office. Trump himself wrote on Twitter in late 2017 that he had to fire Flynn because he lied to the FBI and Vice President Mike Pence. In January, however, Flynn asked to withdraw his confession.

Did the FBI Trick Flynn?

Earlier, documents had emerged that Trump and his conservative allies believed that the FBI had tricked Flynn. An FBI investigator’s handwritten note stated that Flynn had to be told to lie so that he could be prosecuted or fired. Trump then said Flynn was now “completely exonerated”.

In the meantime, the Flynn trial has become a campaign strategy, with which the Republicans, in particular, are inciting their base against an alleged conspiracy of the establishment. Trump now calls Flynn a “hero” an “innocent man,” and “a victim of the FBI’s crooked machinations.”

The role Flynn will play – in absentia – in the upcoming election, has now become evident when Trump accused President Obama and his team (including the relevant FBI personnel responsible for investigating Flynn) of “by far the greatest political crime in the history of the United States. Since then, Trump has been trying to coin the term Obamagate, which will undoubtedly become a key message in his reelection bid. The latter is strongly reminiscent of attempting to brand Hillary Clinton as a criminal in 2016 (“lock her up”). Already, Trump is posting “Obamagate” on Twitter daily, in an attempt to make it a public dictum.

The causa Flynn, meanwhile, is by no means settled. With the judge’s intervention, the former National Security Advisor remains a subject of interest and equally a cornerstone of the Deep State narrative that it supporters hope will take Donald Trump back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for a second term.