On today's BradCast, the gaslighting of the nation continues, from Flynn to Florida. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Two weeks ago, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr's Dept. of Justice stunned the legal world by filing a motion to drop all charges against Lt. General Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's first National Security Advisor and one of his earliest supporters. Flynn had twice pleaded guilty before three different judges about lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador before Trump's inauguration. His guilty plea also included the admission that he was a paid agent for the nation of Turkey, which he failed to disclose even as he received highly classified briefings after Trump's election before going on to serve as the nation's top national security official in the White House.
Flynn initially lied to FBI officials in January of 2017 and was recently set to receive his sentencing in federal court when his new Fox "News" lawyers convinced him to try and withdraw his guilty plea. Before U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan was able to decide on that matter, Barr, Trump's new fixer, jumped in to try to make the prosecution go away completely, claiming that the initial interview during which Flynn lied to federal officials about his conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, should never have happened in the first place. Barr argues the counterintelligence probe being carried out by the FBI at the time, looking into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 campaign and potential cooperation by the Trump Campaign, should also have never happened in the first place.
The problem is Barr's own DoJ --- just a few months ago, at the beginning of this year, in their sentencing recommendation memo [PDF] for Flynn --- argued the 2017 interview was "material to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation to know the full extent of the defendant’s communications with the Russian Ambassador, and why he lied to the FBI about those communications." They called Flynn's false statements to the FBI "significant" and potential "evidence of links or coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia."
Week's later, in the May 7 motion to dismiss the charges [PDF] against Flynn --- which all of the career prosecutors who worked on the case for years refused to sign --- Barr's DoJ claimed the exact opposite, that the January 2017 interview with Flynn was not "conducted with a legitimate investigative basis." Barr himself, during an interview with a former Fox "News" reporter explaining the unprecedented filing, argued that the FBI "did not have a legitimate basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn."
But Barr's DoJ argued the opposite case only weeks earlier and offered few details in the new filing about why they are now, suddenly, changing their legal position. Judge Sullivan is none to happy about any of it and has retained a retired prosecutor/federal judge to argue against the new filing now that the DoJ has literally joined forces with the Flynn defense team they were previously prosecuting.
The argument, as national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Empty Wheel recently reported, is now between the Barr DoJ's two different and conflicting positions on the matter and, she explains, should be covered as such by the corporate media seeking to "both sides" every issue.
Wheeler joins us today to explain the extraordinary, unprecedented mess, and how it is that Barr and his DoJ now find themselves, literally, on both sides of the issue, as the nation's top law enforcement official continues his partisan bidding for the President of the United States. "You can't, as the same party," says Wheeler, "stand before a court and say, 'I think 2 plus 2 is 4 and then the next day come in and say, 'I think 2 plus 2 is 17.' That's effectively what DoJ has done, given that Bill Barr's DoJ said in January this was material to a serious and legitimate investigation, and now he's saying this was not material because the investigation was not legitimate."
She also discusses whether the media are falling for Barr's bogus claims; whether Barr and the DoJ could, themselves, be sanctioned by Judge Sullivan; and whether Sullivan's new hire, Judge John Gleeson, may argue that Flynn, in this case, should be charged with contempt for his perjurious lies to the court.
Then, as Barr tries to gaslight the nation, the state of Florida, under the command of GOP Governor and Trump pal Ron DeSantis, is apparently trying to do the same amid the coronavirus pandemic. A new report from Florida Today finds that the state's lead Department of Health official who headed up the creation of Florida's highly lauded COVID-19 dashboard website, was recently removed from the job after refusing to censor key scientific data on coronavirus cases, spread and deaths in the Sunshine State while DeSantis is risking lives by "reopening" the economy there faster than health experts recommend.
The way in which Republicans are trying to deny, ignore and otherwise hide scientific data in favor of promoting the economy at all costs, as we discuss, is a perfect hyper-speed analog of how the same political party has attempted to deny, ignore and otherwise hide the science of climate change in favor of the economy, no matter the expense to the public and the death toll that folly similarly entails.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins for the latest Green News Report with more lessons we should learn from the COVID crisis about the climate crisis; news on the massive, climate change-fueled cyclone about to slam into one of the poorest regions on earth in the middle of the pandemic; and the Trump EPA's approval of rocket-fuel toxins in your drinking water...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)