WHAT DOES Gen. Michael Flynn, the now-exonerated former White House national security adviser, have in common with Jimmy Carter, Jane Fonda, and Nancy Pelosi?
Answer: All of them were threatened with the so-called Logan Act, one of the oldest federal statutes, and arguably the most pernicious.
Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to one count of lying to an FBI agent when he was asked about his communications with Russia's ambassador to the United States during the transition to Donald Trump's inauguration. But he later withdrew that guilty plea, and the Justice Department last week moved to dismiss the case. It did so, according to court filings, after evidence emerged that the bureau long ago knew there was no legitimate reason to believe that Flynn had engaged in any unlawful collusion with the Russian government. It pursued him anyway, arranging an interview in hopes of getting him to say something inculpatory.
Handwritten notes by the FBI's counterintelligence chief indicate that agents were angling "to get [Flynn] to lie, so we can prosecute him" or "get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act" in his conversation with the Russian envoy. Yet it was clear all along, as the Justice Department documents show, that a Logan Act prosecution had no chance of succeeding. . . .