By T.R. Clancy
The long overdue cracking of the conspiracy to frame President Trump’s national security adviser has the left wailing. It was a “‘black day in D.O.J. history'” when Michael Flynn was no longer going to prison.
Faced with the emergency of defending the indefensible, progressives have been busy deflecting from the crookedness coming to light, either by refusing to mention any of it in their reporting, or howling over the unimaginable scandal of the government dropping charges against a defendant who has already pleaded guilty.
Since Thursday, progressives have been saying U.S. attorney Jeff Jensen’s motion to dismiss the case will go down in the annals of justice as surpassed in perfidy only by, maybe, Pontius Pilate’s decision to release Barabbas. The critics manage this without ever engaging a single point set out in the government’s intimidating 20-page motion. Instead, these shrill attacks all boil down to a single false and irrelevant argument, continued into this week by Donna Brazile: “It’s a fact that President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, lied to the FBI — he pleaded guilty to the charge.”
The same day it learned of the dismissal of Flynn’s case, the New York Times rushed to remind its readers, for the one millionth time, “Don’t Forget, Michael Flynn Pleaded Guilty. Twice.” The next day, two of the Times’ Georgetown legal experts editorialized on why the DOJ dropping the case triggered a “sense of utter demoralization” among criminal law experts and members of law enforcement and why every American should be “shocked and outraged“: “After all, Mr. Flynn twice pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I.” But saying it once wasn’t enough. “To review: Mr. Barr is now saying he cannot prove charges to which Mr. Flynn has twice pleaded guilty in court — and for which there is ample evidence.” In fact, the Georgetown lawyers don’t mention any evidence of Flynn’s guilt, let alone ample evidence. Because that doesn’t matter. Evidence is not going to be on the test. Just remember that guilty plea.
The media are determined that if you’re going to forget anything, forget the corrupt, disgraceful frame-up of an American warrior that’s left the FBI, the DOJ, and the Constitution in a broken heap. Forget that before James Comey sent two unethical federal agents to have a harmless chat with Flynn, he wasn’t guilty of anything, and by the time they left, Flynn’s life was ruined. Forget that Comey’s sole purpose in sending agents to interview Flynn wasn’t to investigate anything; they were sent to trap Flynn into a lie “so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”
The brutal facts of last week’s revelations are so clear cut and straightforward — think of the invasion of Normandy or Nixon’s resignation — that no straight news reporter could conceivably lead with anything else but “this is what happened, and this is why it happened” — something on the order of “a cleaned-up DOJ withdrew a false charge that never should have been filed, because it was based on FBI wrongdoing and an Obama DOJ plot that was blessed by Obama officials at the highest level, and possibly by Obama himself.”
That is the story. But it’s a story the media don’t want to tell, because they’d be telling it on themselves. Where they can’t avoid it, the mainstream media are burying the ugliness under prattle about almost anything else.
Typical is the AP report that appeared widely on Friday, whose four leading paragraphs contained not a single word acknowledging that there was anything wrong with the Flynn prosecution. Instead, the reporters digress on how the case was “a rallying cry for the president and his supporters in attacking the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation,” that the dismissal request came “even though prosecutors for the past three years have maintained that Flynn lied to the FBI,” and, of course, that “Flynn himself admitted as much, pleading guilty before asking to withdraw the plea[.]” In the Detroit News print edition, the AP article dawdles through seven paragraphs before there’s a hint in paragraph eight that the FBI’s Flynn interview was an illegal trap, “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.” Anyone still reading by paragraph 16 finally learns that an FBI official’s handwritten notes document how the goal of interviewing Flynn was to trap him in a lie so they could destroy him.
The media hammering on Flynn’s guilty plea is meant to crowd out all the wretched details of prosecutorial abuse, leaving only enough room for their alternative suggestions of reality. One of their suggestions is that history has no record of a prosecutor dropping a charge against a defendant who has already pleaded guilty. This is ridiculous, but they’ve been suggesting this at the top of their lungs, swearing that what happened last Thursday was an unprecedented, egregious abuse of power by Bill Barr because he’s Trump’s puppet, pure and simple. To help keep this gaslight burning among friendly media, Obama himself leaked his view that “[t]here is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free” (italics mine).
Jonathan Turley, a liberal and no supporter of Trump, quickly corrected the former president, suggesting he may want to check his research with his own former attorney general, Eric Holder. Turley explains in detail how “Holder moved to dismiss such a case, based on prosecutorial errors in front of the very same judge, Judge Emmet Sullivan,” and further corrects Obama that Flynn wasn’t charged with perjury. Not only is Turley able to point to legal precedent that Obama said nobody could find, but Turley can cite the federal court rule specifically “created for this purpose,” a rule tied to “other rules mandating this action when there is evidence of prosecutorial misconduct or fundamental questions about the underlying case[.]”
You wouldn’t know it from current reporting, but an allegation of prosecutorial misconduct didn’t use to make liberals yelp with rage. Before last Thursday, progressives were quite sympathetic to defendants who were squeezed by unscrupulous prosecutors into pleading to something they didn’t do — in other words, defendant who say they’re guilty, but they aren’t. It’s not a fact. But right now, in the new normal, the party that’s convinced that the vast majority of prison inmates are the innocent victims of systemic abuse now venerate an extorted plea agreement as the epitome of the American judicial system at its best.
They have brought this calamity on themselves. For some time now, the go-to progressive tactic has been to oversimplify every controversy into a Manichean “narrative” that pits absolute goodness against unspeakable evil. Among the other purposes that framing Mike Flynn was meant to serve was to show the good angels of St. James Comey and the Mueller team slaying the wicked and traitorous Trump appointee by sheer force of righteousness. The problem now is that Flynn is looking less villainous all the time, and Comey and the special counsel team are stinking more of brimstone than they already did. Once you’ve seen that note about “get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired,” it’s hard to unsee it. Americans might even find out that Flynn didn’t lie to the FBI at all. In last week’s motion to dismiss, the charge U.S. attorney Jeff Jensen said, “[T]he Government does not believe it could prove that Mr. Flynn knowingly and willfully made a false statement beyond a reasonable doubt.”
But liberals wanted the Flynn narrative to be a battle between good and evil. There has to be a villain, and if it isn’t Flynn, then there’s nobody left but Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Brady, Rosenstein, Mueller, Weissmann, Van Grack, yada, yada, yada, Hillary, and Barack Obama. The left desperately needs the disputed fact that Flynn is guilty of lying to the FBI, as something Americans can be convinced outweighs all the other facts — the genuine facts too numerous to mention — that have piled up to become the tottering Tower of Babel of the Russia hoax.
And somebody just took that fact away from them.
T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan. You can email him at [email protected].