Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Thursday slammed the Justice Department for dropping criminal charges against President Trump’s former national security director Michael Flynn.
In a blistering statement, Mr. McCabe blasted the decision as “pure politics.”
Flynn pled guilty to lying to FBI officials about his communications with the former Russian ambassador. The statements Flynn made to the agents during that January 2017 interview were the basis for his prosecution.
In dropping the charges, the Justice Department said the FBI had no reason to interview Flynn because an internal bureau document revealed agents had not uncovered any wrongdoing.
Mr. McCabe said the Justice Department’s statement has “nothing to do with the facts or the law.”
“The Department’s position that the FBI had no reason to interview Mr. Flynn pursuant to its counterintelligence investigation is patently false, and ignores the considerable national security risk his contacts raised,” he said. “Moreover, the Department’s position contradicts the findings by both the Special Counsel and the Office of the Inspector General.”
Mr. McCabe also defended the investigation into Flynn, saying the FBI was obligated to speak with him as part of its probe into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
“Mr. Flynn had prominent, high-level interactions with Russian officials, so we investigated whether he might be that point of coordination. We received incontrovertible evidence that Mr. Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador on more than one occasion, that he actively tried to influence the actions of Russian officials, and that those officials acceded to his requests,” he said.
“The FBI was obligated to interview him to better understand why he was talking to Russian officials,” Mr. McCabe continued.
Mr. McCabe emphasized that Flynn had initially pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents before he sought to revoke his plea.
“During the interview, he lied about the substance of his conversations with those officials. His lies added to our concerns about his relationship with the Russian government. Later, under oath in Federal Court, he twice admitted to lying to the FBI,” Mr. McCabe said.
Mr. McCabe was the No. 2 official at the FBI during the Flynn probe. An explosive handwritten note released last week was penned by the FBI’s former head of counterintelligence Bill Priestap after a meeting with Mr. McCabe and then-FBI Director James Comey.
The note suggested that top FBI officials questioned whether the goal of interviewing Flynn was to get him to lie so he can be fired or prosecuted. It also suggested that the FBI agents could get him to admit to violating the Logan Act, an obscure law from 1799 that prohibits private citizens from talking with foreign governments.
Mr. McCabe was fired from the FBI in the spring of 2018 after the Justice Department inspector general concluded he misled investigators about leaks to reporters.