Brandon Van Grack, a former special counsel’s team member and a top Department of Justice prosecutor, moved to withdraw Thursday from the case against former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Van Grack’s removal, documented in a court filing, coincides with his abrupt withdrawal from other unrelated federal cases. That, along with recent damning revelations about government corruption in the Flynn case, raises questions about Van Grack’s future with the Justice Department.
Moments after Van Grack’s withdrawal from the Flynn case, news emerged that the Justice Department moved to dismiss the case against the former national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in 2017 concerning conversations with a Russian ambassador, but recently tried to withdraw his guilty plea, citing ineffective counsel and government corruption.
Explosive new developments in the Flynn case reveal government corruption indeed. The case began to crumble as evidence surfaced suggesting the Federal Bureau of Investigation had set a perjury trap for Flynn. Newly released handwritten FBI notes, withheld inappropriately from Flynn’s defense team, reveal a main objective of the agents investigating him was “to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired.” Not only that, but a look at the FBI’s closing memorandum on the Flynn case shows that federal investigators had no proper predication for investigating Flynn in the first place.
Despite no legitimate basis for investigating Flynn, Van Grack completely mischaracterized both Flynn’s interaction with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Flynn’s statements to FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka on Jan. 24, 2017, which Van Grack argued were “absolutely material.”
Additionally, per D.C. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s standing order in the Flynn case, Van Grack was required to produce all government-possessed evidence “that is favorable to [Flynn] and material either to [Flynn’s] guilt or punishment.”
The government “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,” Van Grack said in a 2019 filing, claiming the government prosecutors had fulfilled their responsibility to turn over to defendants all exculpatory evidence. The government has not “affirmatively suppressed evidence,” nor was it “aware of any information that would be favorable and material to [Flynn] at sentencing,” Van Grack claimed in the same filing.
When Flynn’s current attorney Sidney Powell accused government prosecutors of “targeting” Flynn for “concocted and political purposes,” Van Grack rejected her charges as “conspiracy theories.”
Van Grack, however, failed to produce to Flynn’s attorneys and the court the newly unsealed documents revealing that the FBI had closed its Flynn investigation in January 2017 after it “did not yield any information on which to predicate further investigative efforts,” only to have it reopened by former FBI agent Strzok, who was later fired for misconduct.
Van Grack’s withdrawal from the case became moot shortly after, when the Justice Department decided to dismiss the case against Flynn, a suggestion made by Missouri-based U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen, whom Attorney General William Barr had brought in for an outside review.
Van Grack’s misconduct paired with his sudden withdrawal from other cases, however, suggest a bleak outcome for the federal prosecutor.