Supporters of President Donald Trump are jubilant that the Department of Justice has filed to dismiss its criminal case against Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who acted as a Trump campaign surrogate and served as Trump’s first national security adviser. But clearing Flynn is not enough; they demand retribution against those they believed enabled the case against him, the so-called “deep state.”
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the Department of Justice filed to drop its criminal case against Flynn, who pled guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian ambassador—a plea Flynn would later rescind. According to the AP, the DOJ “concluded that Flynn’s interview by the FBI was ‘untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn’ and that the interview was ‘conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.’” The dismissal was filed shortly after the sudden resignation of Brandon Van Grack, a prosecutor on the case.
Trump cheered the decision, and officials in his administration’s orbit are reportedly already in talks to bring Flynn back onto the campaign stage as a “Nelson Mandela” folk-hero figure, as one of Trump’s top pollsters described Flynn to The Daily Beast. At the White House, Trump accused the Obama administration of “treason” and said the “human scum” involved in the case against Flynn will “pay a price.”
Yesterday was a BIG day for Justice in the USA. Congratulations to General Flynn, and many others. I do believe there is MUCH more to come! Dirty Cops and Crooked Politicians do not go well together!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2020
The DOJ’s decision to drop its case against Flynn followed years-long calls from Trump loyalists—QAnon keyboard warriors and Fox News prime-time hosts alike—to exonerate the former adviser. Now, those at the forefront of that charge are signaling that they hope the dismal of Flynn’s case is the kickoff to a season of retribution against those they believe to be corrupt intelligence community officials who aimed to destroy Trump and his allies.
Right-wing legal shop Judicial Watch welcomed the DOJ’s decision to drop its case against Flynn in a statement Thursday, calling the case against Flynn “a key part of the Obama/Clinton/Deep State coup against President Trump.” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton has spent much of Trump’s tenure in office appearing on right-wing media programs to rail against the deep state and demand the exoneration of the president and his afflicted allies. In its statement, Judicial Watch demanded “the prosecution of the coup cabal who tried to destroy General Flynn and overthrow our president.” On Twitter, Fitton attributed Barr’s decision to drop the case against Flynn to the “tenacity” of Flynn’s lead attorney Sidney Powell and promised that Judicial Watch “will not rest” in the wake of the DOJ’s decision.
Powell, a pro-Trump lawyer and a vocal deep state antagonist, wrote on Twitter that the DOJ’s decision was “a victory for Truth, Justice, the President” and told columnist John Solomon, who was repeatedly tapped by right-wing media as an attack dog on the deep state, that the decision was a “historic moment for the entire country and crucial to the restoration of the rule of law.”
Sara Carter, a Fox News contributor who made her name offering validation to a myriad of allegations of a nefarious deep state, called the case against Flynn a “conspiracy” committed against the American people and demanded the individuals responsible for it to “be held responsible.” Greg Jarrett, a Fox News legal analyst who has authored two books about the deep state, wrote in a blog post that the “the ugly and unconscionable actions of the FBI and Mueller’s hit squad were uncovered and exposed” and called for retribution: “Let the litigation begin. Damages should run into the millions of dollars. Flynn deserves it. And the Justice Department should now consider whether crimes were committed by those who deliberately obscured the truth and arguably obstructed justice.”
Rep. Devin Nunes, a ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee and outspoken critic of Mueller and impeachment investigations, told RealClearInvestigations, “The FBI set up General Flynn — that is clear as day.” Rep. Jim Jordan, another one of Trump’s most outspoken attack dogs, told Fox News viewers that the DOJ dropping its case against Flynn “confirms what we already knew.” Jordan urged Barr to take “another hard look” at former FBI Director James Comey and wrote on Twitter, “Now it’s time to hold someone accountable.”
Phyllis Schlafly Eagles President Ed Martin, who has taken accusations of a deep state conspiracy to absurdist lengths, emailed supporters Friday: “Let’s keep going: we must identify and remove all those agents of the Deep State globalists who are fighting from within to destroy American leaders of integrity.”
Dan Bongino, a right-wing radio host who has railed against the deep state for years, urged his fans to prepare for further reckoning. On Twitter, he wrote: “NOW, more than ever, you need to tune out the lib media.”
NOW, more than ever, you need to tune out the lib media. As the walls close in on Obama & the Spygate plotters, they’ll claw at their faces & scream disinformation at the top of their lungs. They’re desperate to distract you. Please, for the sake of the truth, tune them out.
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) May 8, 2020
Right Wing Watch reached Raheem Kassam, who has worked with Steve Bannon’s “War Room” project and often yarned about a nefarious deep state during impeachment hearings, via email on Friday for comment on the Flynn news. Kassam replied, only quoting the Bible verse Hosea 8:7: “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.”
Trump and his media allies for years have told Republican voters that the current administration was battling a so-called “deep state” shadow government toiling to invalidate Trump’s upset defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016. The tales of covert battle have prompted the earnest creation of hit lists of disloyal government officials and even inspired a stage plays, which was performed at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump’s impeachment after a whistleblower complaint about his conversation with the president of Ukraine, the national economy’s tumble during the coronavirus pandemic: In each situation, Trump supporters have scapegoated the so-called deep state, ignoring would likely have been seen as damning scandal and misconduct in a typical presidential administration.
Flynn’s “Get out of Jail Free” card from Barr has been interpreted by Trump loyalists as concrete validation of years of their deep state rhetoric and demands. Now that there is finally a concrete win on their scoreboard, the team is hoping to vanquish the deep state.