Attorney General William Barr has reportedly installed an outside prosecutor to scrutinize the criminal case against President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December of 2017 to lying to the FBI during the Russia probe.
Barr's move, reported Friday by the New York Times, comes as the attorney general is facing calls to resign over his decision to intervene in the case of Trump's longtime friend and confidant Roger Stone.
"The review is highly unusual and could trigger more accusations of political interference by top Justice Department officials into the work of career prosecutors," the Times noted. "Mr. Barr has also installed a handful of outside prosecutors to broadly review the handling of other politically sensitive national-security cases in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington."
More political inference at DOJ. https://t.co/hf9rpginj7
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) February 14, 2020
Make no mistake - this is simply Attorney General Barr taking the cases away from my former office - the DC US Atty office - installing his former aide Timothy Shea as US Atty maybe not enough given the fight the office seems to have put over Roger Stone
— Shanlon Wu (@shanlonwu) February 14, 2020
"Barr is going to burn DOJ to the ground from the inside in his crusade to advance the president's political interests," MSNBC legal analyst Matthew Miller tweeted in response to the news.
The Times reported that the criminal case against Flynn "has been bogged down in recent months by his lawyers' unfounded claims of prosecutorial misconduct; a judge has already rejected those accusations."
"Flynn then asked to withdraw his guilty plea, which he first entered in December 2017," the Times added. "His case has become a cause célèbre for Mr. Trump's supporters."
Progressive advocacy group Stand Up America tweeted Friday that Barr's decision to order a review of the Flynn case is "another in a long list of examples of extremely inappropriate political interference by this administration designed to advance the president's interests."
This is another in a long list of examples of extremely inappropriate political interference by this administration designed to advance the president’s interests. https://t.co/TuhPdnVqkm
— Stand Up America (@StandUpAmerica) February 14, 2020
On Tuesday, all four career federal prosecutors handling the Stone case withdrew in protest after Barr intervened to reduce Stone's recommended prison sentence of seven to nine years. Numerous House Democrats are privately pushing for the prosecutors to testify before Congress, according to the Washington Post.
Barr's intervention in the Stone prosecution came hours after Trump tweeted that the sentence was "horrible and very unfair." In an interview with ABC News Thursday, Barr said the president has never ordered him to interfere in a criminal case.
Trump responded to Barr's interview with a tweet Friday morning insisting he has the "the legal right" to order the attorney general to intervene.
"I have so far chosen not to!" Trump claimed.