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."

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