WASHINGTON (CN) – Amid widespread concern about political influence creeping into the Justice Department’s most high-profile cases, Attorney General William Barr has appointed a prosecutor to look into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s case, the New York Times reported Friday.
Citing people familiar with the matter, the Times reported that in addition to the review of Flynn’s case, Barr has tapped a team of outside prosecutors to look into other “politically sensitive” cases in Washington, D.C. According to the report, which has been confirmed by multiple other outlets, St. Louis prosecutor Jeff Jensen will oversee the probe into the Flynn case.
Flynn attorney Sidney Powell hailed the reports that Barr has directed a review of his client’s case, which he has claimed in court was rife with misconduct on the part of federal prosecutors.
“It’s imperative this case be independently reviewed,” Powell said in an email. “This is the most egregious case of government misconduct I’ve ever seen.”
The Flynn case was one of the first that came out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and has gone through a series of stunning twists and turns since the former national security adviser’s 2017 guilty plea on charges that he lied to the FBI about communications he had with the former Russian ambassador.
After spending more than 100 hours cooperating with other federal investigations, Flynn moved to withdraw his guilty plea in January, claiming misconduct on the part of the prosecutors handling his case.
Flynn’s current attorneys, who took over the case in June, have also sought to dismiss the case “for egregious government misconduct,” claiming prosecutors tried to trick Flynn into lying both during the initial investigation into his conduct and while he was cooperating on other cases.
The Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment on the reports Friday.
The reports come during a tumultuous week at the Justice Department that began when the agency backtracked on a sentencing recommendation for longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone shortly after Trump publicly criticized the department’s initial recommendation.
Soon after Trump took to Twitter to criticize as “ridiculous” the initial recommendation that called for a seven-to-nine-year sentence for Stone, the Justice Department changed course and said it would recommend a more lenient punishment.
Four Justice Department prosecutors removed themselves from the case after the reversal, with one leaving the government entirely.
In a Thursday interview with ABC, Barr said Trump has never personally pressured him to take any action on a criminal case but that tweets about Justice Department criminal cases “make it impossible” for Barr to do his job.