I knew that William Barr was an egregiously corrupt political hack, and I knew that his attempt to drop charges was motivated by a desire to please Donald Trump, but I did not expect this fact to be called out so explicitly in a legal filing authored by a former federal judge:
A retired federal judge accused the Justice Department on Wednesday of a “gross abuse of prosecutorial power” and urged a court to reject its attempt to drop the criminal case against Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser.
The arguments in a 73-page brief by John Gleeson, the retired judge and former mafia prosecutor appointed to argue against the Justice Department’s unusual effort to drop the Flynn case, were the latest turn in a politically charged case that now centers on the question of whether Mr. Flynn should continue to be prosecuted. He said Mr. Flynn should be sentenced.
The Justice Department’s intervention last month, directed by Attorney General William P. Barr, came after a long public campaign by Mr. Trump and his allies and prompted an outcry from former law enforcement officials that the administration was further politicizing the department.
Mr. Gleeson’s brief amounted to a step-by-step dissection of the factual claims and legal arguments the Justice Department put forward last month to justify withdrawing a charge of making false statements that Mr. Flynn had twice pleaded guilty to. Mr. Gleeson said the department’s intervention was an example of the kind of “corrupt, politically motivated dismissals” that judges have the power to guard against.
“The reasons offered by the government are so irregular, and so obviously pretextual, that they are deficient,” Mr. Gleeson wrote. “Moreover, the facts surrounding the filing of the government’s motion constitute clear evidence of gross prosecutorial abuse. They reveal an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump.”
To justify Mr. Barr’s decision to drop the case, the Justice Department has argued that Mr. Flynn’s lies were not “material” to any legitimate investigation — rejecting the department’s own previous position that his lies were relevant to the counterintelligence inquiry into the scope of Russia’s covert operation to tilt the 2016 election in Mr. Trump’s favor and the nature of links to Trump campaign associates.
Mr. Gleeson, who had co-written an op-ed article calling into question the legitimacy of Mr. Barr’s intervention before Judge Sullivan appointed him, offered a blistering critique of that rationale.
“Pursuant to an active investigation into whether President Trump’s campaign officials coordinated activities with the government of Russia, one of those officials lied to the F.B.I. about coordinating activities with the government of Russia,” Mr. Gleeson wrote. “It is hard to conceive of a more material false statement than this one.”
Marching through other issues raised by Mr. Flynn’s defenders and embraced by the Justice Department, Mr. Gleeson portrayed the arguments as “absurd,” “legally unsound,” “misdirection,” “preposterous” and “empty.” He said the department’s request was both “riddled with inexplicable and elementary errors of law and fact” and departed from its position in other cases — all evidence, he said, that its rationale for dropping the case was just a pretext.
“The government may not enlist a court in dismissing a case solely because the defendant is a friend and political ally of the president — and where the ostensible reasons advanced for dismissal amount to a thin and unpersuasive disguise,” wrote Mr. Gleeson, who gained fame as the prosecutor who put the Gambino crime boss John Gotti in prison, and went on to serve as a federal judge in Brooklyn from 1994 to 2016.
He added: “If the executive wishes for the judiciary to dismiss criminal charges — as opposed to issuing a pardon or taking other unilateral action — the reasons it offers must be real and credible. Its professed concerns about materiality are neither.”
Damn. That’s gonna leave a mark.
Why there hasn’t been a complaint filed against Barr to the Washington, DC bar for discipline is beyond me.