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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.

3 mins ago - World

Gaza ceasefire under strain as Israel and Hamas feud over rebuilding

Egyptian excavators clear rubble on Wednesday in Gaza City. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

The indirect talks between Israel and Hamas to stabilize the ceasefire in Gaza and begin the reconstruction process have made little progress, raising concerns of renewed violence.

State of play: Five weeks on from the ceasefire, Israel is threatening to hold up the reconstruction process, and Hamas this week rejected a UN plan to fund it, Israeli officials and Western diplomats tell me.

Pacific Northwest's hottest weather on record takes aim this weekend

Computer model projection showing the jet stream winds and "misery index" of surface temperatures on June 27, 2021. (Earth.nullschool.net). The circulation of jet stream winds shows the location of the "heat dome" over the Pacific Northwest.

A "historic" and potentially deadly heat wave is on tap for the Pacific Northwest into southwestern Canada this weekend into early next week, with never-before-seen temperatures possible in cities like Portland, Ore., and Spokane, Wash.

Why it matters: The heat wave will affect a region where many people lack central air conditioning, raising the likelihood for public health impacts. In addition, power demand is likely to spike at a time when hydropower resources are running relatively low due to drier than average conditions.