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Michael Flynn. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr has assigned an outside prosecutor to monitor the Justice Department's ongoing case against President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The move could trigger additional accusations of political interference at the Justice Department, especially for extremely sensitive cases involving former Trump allies.

  • It adds "a secondary layer of monitoring and control over what career prosecutors have been doing in the Washington office," the Times notes.
  • The new team on the Flynn case includes members from the office of Jeffrey Jensen of the U.S. attorney's office in St. Louis — and as well as other members from the office of the deputy attorney general.
  • Jensen's team has been asked "to look into Flynn's FBI interview," according to NBC News.

The state of play: Flynn's sentencing has been indefinitely postponed after he filed court papers last month to withdraw his guilty plea related to allegedly lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., blaming the government's "bad faith, vindictiveness, and breach of the plea agreement."

The big picture: The president's relationship with Barr and the Justice Department has come under scrutiny over the past week due to developments in the Roger Stone case.

  • Four prosecutors who tried Stone in November withdrew from the case after the Justice Department overruled their original sentencing recommendation of 7–9 years for the political operative.
  • Trump tweeted that the original recommendation was a "miscarriage of justice." He later told reporters that he didn't speak to the Justice Department about the case, but that he would have "the absolute right" to.
  • Trump withdrew his nomination for former U.S. attorney for D.C. Jessie Liu to serve in a top Treasury Department position. While at the Justice Department, she oversaw a number of politically charged prosecutions that included the case against Trump associates.
  • Barr told ABC News in an interview Thursday that Trump's "constant background commentary" about the Justice Department "makes it impossible for me to do my job" — particularly blaming the president's tweets.
  • And earlier Friday, Trump tweeted that he has "the legal right" to ask Barr to intervene in criminal cases, saying that he has "so far chosen not to."

The other side: The DOJ declined Friday to bring charges against former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe in an investigation into whether he lied to investigators about a press leak.

  • McCabe and Trump have had a turbulent relationship since Trump took office.
  • The Times notes that the decision "appears to be a sign that [Barr] wants to show that the Justice Department is independent from" the president.

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.