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Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Editor's note: After this story was published, the Justice Department revealed it was dropping its prosecution of Michael Flynn. Read the full story here.

Brandon Van Grack, a former member of special counsel Robert Mueller's team, moved to withdraw from the Justice Department's prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Thursday. He did not provide a reason for his withdrawal.

Why it matters: Van Grack leads a team that has been accused by Flynn's attorneys of prosecutorial misconduct. New FBI documents stemming from Flynn's move to withdraw his 2017 guilty plea have amplified conservative claims that prosecutors sought to entrap the former top Trump aide into lying about his conversations with the former Russian ambassador.

The big picture: Attorney General Bill Barr appointed an outside prosecutor in February to examine the case against Flynn, which both President Trump and Vice President Pence have weighed in on in recent days.

  • Flynn was forced to resign from the administration for misleading Pence and later pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to FBI agents about speaking to the Russian ambassador about sanctions, which the Obama administration had imposed for election interference.
  • President Trump has said he is "strongly considering" a full pardon for Flynn, and has tweeted repeatedly about the unfair treatment he alleges Flynn has received.
  • Last week, Trump said that he would consider bringing Flynn back into the administration, claiming his former national security adviser is "essentially exonerated."

Van Grack and the team prosecuting Flynn have denied wrongdoing. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Flashback: In February, the Justice Department overruled career prosecutors who were seeking a 7-9 year prison sentence for Roger Stone, another former Trump adviser charged in the Mueller investigation. The decision prompted all four prosecutors who tried Stone to withdraw from the case.

Go deeper: New Flynn revelations heighten Trump's discontent with FBI director Wray

Go deeper

Former FBI advisor expected to plead guilty for falsifying email in Trump campaign probe

President Trump briefs reporters on August 14. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kevin Clinesmith, who gave legal support to the FBI as it investigated ties between President Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia, is expected to plead guilty to falsifying a key document in the agency's probe, the New York Times reports, citing court documents made public on Friday.

Why it matters: The charging documents do not show any evidence that Clinesmith's actions were part of a broad conspiracy to undermine the president, per the Times.

11 mins ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.