Bill Barr is a champion of justice
WASHINGTON -- "Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies," noted a letter signed by more than 2,000 former federal prosecutors calling for Attorney General Bill Barr to resign because he wants to drop a criminal charge against President Donald Trump's first national security adviser, Mike Flynn.
Be glad these folks are former and not current prosecutors because they have gone to bat for the very practice they claim to oppose. Federal prosecutors against government overreach -- that's an oxymoron.
Barr's action, they assert, was "rare" -- and that's a problem because it shouldn't be rare for the nation's top lawman to curb one of many abuses that lay at the feet of the feds.
Consider Ted Stevens, the then-GOP senator from Alaska who was found guilty on corruption charges and lost his reelection bid in 2008. Later, it was learned that federal prosecutors intentionally hid evidence that exonerated him.
The Russian probe turned out to be a partisan exercise. We now know that it was clear early on that there was no coordination between the Kremlin and Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. Then-FBI Director James Comey and -- after Trump fired Comey -- special counsel Robert Mueller nonetheless carried out a brutal investigation that targeted Trump associates on charges that had nothing to do with Russian meddling.
Yes, the feds got scalps. But they never found a smoking gun in the Russian mess.
Some of the probe's successful prosecutions involved clear and proven criminal behavior. Paul Manafort, for example, was convicted for bank and tax fraud, but his crimes predated his brief stint as Trump's campaign chairman.
Flynn's story is messy.
The one-time Army lieutenant general pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement about a post-election phone conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He later claimed he did so under duress.
Be it noted, Trump fired Flynn in February 2017 for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his bid to persuade Moscow not to escalate in response to sanctions President Barack Obama imposed against Russia.