The Department of Justice dropped its charges against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn on Thursday, following a prime-time campaign by Fox News to lay the groundwork for Flynn’s exoneration. According to court documents filed in D.C. District Court, the Justice Department did not consider the continued prosecution of Flynn to “serve the interests of justice.”
Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and then withdrew his guilty plea in January 2020. The motion to dismiss the charges against Flynn claimed that recently uncovered documents from the FBI indicated Flynn’s interview was never “material” to the Mueller investigation. The filing “was signed only by the politically appointed U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea” and not by any career prosecutors. Moments before the motion was filed, the top prosecutor in the Flynn case abruptly withdrew from it without explanation.
Flynn’s legal team claimed that the new documents turned over to them from the Department of Justice demonstrated that the FBI was trying to trap Flynn in the 2017 interview. Fox News has been echoing this talking point from Flynn’s legal team throughout the past month and showcasing his lawyer Sidney Powell regularly on the network.
In reality, as Marcy Wheeler reviews at length, none of this evidence was new. She concludes that “by making a claim there’s new information when DOJ had the information all the time but Mike Flynn did not” that “DOJ has become the defense attorney for a sworn felon.” That would make Fox News co-counsel.
Indeed, Flynn lawyer Powell has been a regular on the network, often lambasting the Mueller probe. She appeared on Sean Hannity’s prime-time show on May 5 to argue her client’s case. During that interview, Hannity called for Flynn and all others arrested during Mueller’s investigation to be set “free” and demanded to know if the judge in Flynn’s case would “vacate what is obviously a verdict with exculpatory information withheld.”
In fact, prior to the DOJ’s May 7 announcement, Hannity has hosted Powell on either his Fox News show or his radio program every day since April 27. She's also been on Lou Dobbs' Fox Business show frequently, including today.
Lou Dobbs attacked the case’s lead prosecutor by name and claimed that Flynn was “clearly now innocent and [he] was framed by the federal government” during the May 5 broadcast of his Fox Business show.
During Hannity’s May 4 show, Fox host Jeanine Pirro claimed Flynn was “railroaded by a bunch of thugs -- a cabal in the FBI” and the charges against him should be dropped.
During a May 4 interview with former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland, who was herself investigated by Mueller’s team, Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson said the case against Flynn was “like a third world country -- that’s not supposed to happen here.”
Powell appeared on Dobbs’ Fox Business show on May 1 claiming that a “significant prosecution” against FBI officials was required for “multiple offenses” during the Flynn investigation.
Fox’s Laura Ingraham claimed on May 1 that the recently turned over FBI documents clearly indicated that Flynn had been trapped by the FBI and the interview was nothing more than a “fishing expedition.”
Powell came on Hannity’s show on April 30 to argue for her client, saying that Flynn was innocent and the case against him should be dropped.
During the April 27 broadcast of his show, Carlson said sources told him that the case against Flynn was clear-cut “entrapment.”
Fox News’ goal all along has been to justify letting Flynn off the hook even though he pled guilty. Now that Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department -- which has a history of corrupting the legal process on Trump’s behalf -- has dropped the charges against Flynn, Fox News’ narrative has been vindicated in the eyes of the most fervent Trump supporters.
One only hopes that mainstream outlets don't fall for it.