Justice Department prosecutor Brandon Van Grack withdrew from his position as federal counsel on a handful of court cases after allegedly withholding potentially exonerating evidence from the trial of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
Van Grack, who worked on ex-special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, withdrew from at least three cases on Thursday, the most conspicuous being the DOJ prosecution of Flynn, a former adviser to President Trump. The DOJ did not state a reason in the filings for Van Grack’s withdrawals, and a department spokeswoman declined to comment after an inquiry by The Daily Wire.
Soon After Van Grack withdrew from Flynn’s case, the DOJ filed to dismiss the case. Because Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December 2017, the case remains active pending a decision from D.C. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. Flynn’s defense team moved to withdraw his guilty plea on Jan. 31, asserting that he did not lie to the FBI.
Van Grack’s filings and the DOJ motion to dismiss the case came weeks after unsealed FBI documents showed that agents had strategized whether a Jan. 24, 2017, interview with Flynn was about “Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” After the interview, the FBI went on to accuse Flynn of violating the Logan Act, a 1799 law that was only used in one indictment before Flynn’s case and was never used in a criminal prosecution.
Van Grack, who heads DOJ’s Foreign Agents Registration Act unit, had been obligated for over two years before the FBI notes on Flynn’s meeting were unsealed to provide all evidence potentially favorable to Flynn’s defense to the court, even if the prosecutors believe the evidence to not be material. To not do so is a violation of the Brady rule for criminal proceedings.
The prosecution had for months told the court that all so-called exculpatory evidence had been turned over to the court. In an October 2019 filing, Van Grack stated that his team “has complied, and will continue to comply, with its discovery and disclosure obligations, including those imposed pursuant to Brady and the Court’s Standing Order,” according to Fox News.
In light of the new evidence, Van Grack faced a torrent of criticism from Flynn’s allies and others that the lead prosecutor had hidden evidence favorable to the defendant to help the prosecution, according to The Washington Examiner.
In other FBI documents unsealed last month, former FBI agent and head of counterintelligence Peter Strozk was revealed to have intervened in the investigation of Flynn to keep it open despite a lack of “derogatory information” on him. On Jan. 4, 2017, the same day FBI investigators moved to stop the inquiry into Flynn, Strozk sent a text to an FBI case manager directing him keep the probe into Flynn open until FBI leadership “decide what to do with him [with respect to] the [REDACTED].”
Strozk was fired from the FBI in August 2018 after it was revealed he sent a number of anti-Trump texts while working on Mueller’s team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
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