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Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe released a blistering statement on Thursday criticizing the Justice Department's decision to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn as "pure politics designed to please the president."

The big picture: The Justice Department claimed that the interview in which Flynn lied to the FBI "was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn." McCabe rebukes this assessment as "patently false," arguing that Flynn's high-level Russian contacts posed a "considerable national security risk."

Full statement:

"We opened the Russia investigation to determine if the Russian government coordinated with the Trump campaign. Mr. Flynn had prominent, high level interaction with Russian officials, so we investigated whether he might be that point of coordination. We received incontrovertible evidence that Mr. Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador on more than one occasion, and that he actively tried to influence the actions of Russian officials, and that those officials acceded to his requests. The FBI was obligated to interview him to better understand why he was talking to Russian officials. During the interview, he lied about the substance of his conversations with those officials. His lies added to our concerns about his relationship with the Russian government. Later, under oath in Federal Court, he twice admitted to lying to the FBI.
The Department’s position that the FBI had no reason to interview Mr. Flynn pursuant to its counterintelligence investigation is patently false, and ignores the considerable national security risk his contacts raised. Moreover, the Department’s position contradicts the findings by both the Special Counsel and the Office of the Inspector General.
Today’s move by the Justice Department has nothing to do with the facts or the law — it is pure politics designed to please the president."

Go deeper

Aug 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Michael Cohen releases excerpt, cover from Trump tell-all book

President Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen on Thursday released the cover and a 3,700-word foreword from his upcoming tell-all book, "Disloyal."

Why it matters: Cohen, who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress on Trump's behalf and is currently carrying out a three-year prison sentence in home confinement, was at the center of Trump's inner circle for over a decade. A judge ruled last month that the Justice Department's efforts to send him back to prison after he was released due to coronavirus concerns was retaliation for his book.

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker