May 7, 2020

Axios PM

Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 471 words, a 2-minute read.

🚨 Situational awareness: In an excerpt from her first on-camera interview, Tara Reade, who has accused Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, told Megyn Kelly he should drop out of the 2020 race.

  • Biden denies the allegations.
1 big thing: Justice flip-flops on Flynn

Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Today the Justice Department moved to drop its criminal charges against Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

  • Why it matters: The case had become part of a broader campaign by President Trump and his allies to discredit the Russia investigation, writes Axios' Zach Basu.
  • Last week, Trump said he would consider bringing Flynn back into the administration, calling him "essentially exonerated" after the revelation of new FBI documents that were released as part of Flynn's effort to withdraw his guilty plea.

In a filing today, the DOJ said the interview in which Flynn lied to the FBI "was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn" and "conducted without any legitimate investigative basis."

  • In February, Attorney General Bill Barr appointed an outside prosecutor, U.S. attorney Jeff Jensen, to review the government's prosecution of Flynn for evidence of prosecutorial misconduct.
  • Jensen said in a statement: "Through the course of my review of General Flynn’s case, I concluded the proper and just course was to dismiss the case. I briefed Attorney General Barr on my findings, advised him on these conclusions, and he agreed."

Between the lines: The motion to dismiss is signed by U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Timothy Shea, described by Fox News as Barr's "right-hand man" at the Justice Department.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office: "He was an innocent man. ... Now in my book, he’s an even greater warrior. ... I hope a lot of people are going to pay a big price. They’re scum."

  • House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) tweeted: "This is outrageous! ... The decision to overrule the special counsel is without precedent and warrants an immediate explanation."

Also today: Supreme Court tosses out "Bridgegate" convictions.

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The Dean of Westminster reads a prayer as Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks on at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

  • Commemorations of the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, which celebrates the May 8, 1945, victory of Allied nations in Europe during World War II, will be muted across the United Kingdom as it remains in lockdown.
2. Catch up quick
  1. States: California projects $54 billion budget deficit amid coronavirus crisis.
  2. Public health: Local leaders look to stem coronavirus' hidden mental health toll.
  3. Federal government: Trump's personal valet tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Military: Coronavirus hospitalization may be "disqualifying" for recruits.
3. 1 beach thing
Photos: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anthony Walker/U.S. Navy via AP

Navy SEAL recruits and their instructors returned to training this week after classes were paused on March 16 to establish safety standards amid the pandemic, AP reports.

  • Each recruit is checked daily for symptoms of the virus. Instructors are wearing masks and surgical gloves and shouting into megaphones rather than recruits’ faces. Only a limited number of SEAL trainees are allowed into classrooms at a time or during swims and runs.

Everyone in the first phase of training will be tested to try to detect if anyone is infected but asymptomatic, Capt. Bart Randall said.

Mike Allen

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