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Attorney General Involved in High-Profile Cases

Attorney Page Pate, who is nationally recognized as a criminal defense attorney and legal analyst, is frequently contacted by the media to discuss legal issues that appear in the news. In this case, CNN contacted Page to discuss the US Department of Justice dropping their investigation of former FBI Official Andrew McCabe and the involvement of Attorney General William Barr in high-profile cases.

Page is asked for his reaction to the news of the dropping of this case and explains that he is surprised because President Trump had always expressed interested in having Agent McCabe prosecuted. Page says “We know the Department of Justice took a very long time with the case. They actually took it to a grand jury on one occasion. So I think the decision not to bring formal criminal charges was a surprise. Clearly, a surprise to President Trump. Now, the question is, now, what’s he gonna do about it? Is there gonna be another reversal from the Department of Justice just simply because Trump thinks it was the wrong decision? We’ll see.”

When discussing Attorney General William Barr’s recent assertion that he will not be bullied and has ordered a review of the Michael Flynn case, CNN asks Page if he sees a direct contradiction in the Attorney General’s positions. Page responds that he sees a lot of contradictions and explains that “…I’m trying to figure out what exactly are they going to review about the Michael Flynn case? He was prosecuted. He pled guilty. The case was set for sentencing. His cooperation didn’t turn out maybe as well as the government had expected, so they were gonna recommend some prison time. That’s fine. Happens all the time…What does not happen is what we saw in the Stone case, where main justice, the attorney general, comes in and says, “Look, I understand you’re handling the case, you’re the front-line prosecutor. I don’t agree with what you’re doing anymore.” So I really don’t understand that attorney general’s involvement in the Flynn case by picking some prosecutor from outside of the district, having him come in and review a case that’s already been handled. It’s already been completed.”

Further discussing Attorney General Barr and his recent statement that the President’s tweeting makes it impossible to do his job, Page says “It is impossible for Barr to do his job the right way as long as the president continues to interfere with these investigations and these cases. But I think it’s clear that Barr is not going to do the job the right way. What happened in the Stone case…and I don’t know that everyone appreciates how extraordinary that is. I’ve been handling federal criminal cases for over 25 years now. And to have the Department of Justice step in after a sentencing recommendation has been made by the front-line prosecutors and say, “No, no. No, we’ve changed our mind. That’s not our recommendation.” That’s extraordinary because that initial recommendation had to be approved to begin with. So what I know happened here, even though there’s no, you know, trail of it, the president probably didn’t pick up the phone and talk to Barr, was that the decision to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Stone was made because of Trump’s involvement. There’s no question about that. And that’s highly extraordinary and it leads to a lack of confidence in the Justice Department.”

TRANSCRIPTION:

Female anchor: According to transcripts, the federal judge who was appointed by Republican president George W. Bush told prosecutors last year that the involvement of the White House in the case gives the appearance of a government run like a Banana Republic.

Victor: With me now to discuss is Page Pate, criminal defense and constitutional attorney. Page, welcome. Thanks for being here. Let me start with McCabe. I mean, it was a hell of a week for DOJ, but let’s start here. Because back in September, you had attorneys…DOJ attorneys saying, “Listen, we’re just a couple of days out. Just give us a little more time.” That was in the summer. And to go this long and nothing, what’s your reaction to the drop in this case?

Page: Well, I’m surprise by it. Because we know that the president was always interested in having McCabe prosecuted. We know the Department of Justice took a very long time with the case. They actually took it to a grand jury on one occasion. So I think the decision not to bring formal criminal charges was a surprise. Clearly, a surprise to President Trump. Now, the question is, now, what’s he gonna do about it? Is there gonna be another reversal from the Department of Justice just simply because Trump thinks it was the wrong decision? We’ll see.

Victor: Yeah, that was a headline every day. Let’s go to Thursday when the attorney general essentially asserts his independence and says he will not be bullied. Then, on Friday, we learn that he has ordered this review of the Michael Flynn investigation. Optics are terrible if you’re trying to assert your independence. Do you see a direct contradiction, though?

Page: I see a lot of contradictions. First, I’m trying to figure out what exactly are they going to review about the Michael Flynn case? He was prosecuted. He pled guilty. The case was set for sentencing. His cooperation didn’t turn out maybe as well as the government had expected, so they were gonna recommend some prison time. That’s fine. Happens all the time.

What does not happen is what we saw in the Stone case, where main justice, the attorney general, comes in and says, “Look, I understand you’re handling the case, you’re the front-line prosecutor. I don’t agree with what you’re doing anymore.” So I really don’t understand that attorney general’s involvement in the Flynn case by picking some prosecutor from outside of the district, having him come in and review a case that’s already been handled. It’s already been completed.

Victor: What did you make of the interview with the attorney general this week, where he says the president makes it impossible to do his job if he continues to tweet, and then the president tweeted? I mean, no one expects that Barr is now going to resign because the president is still tweeting. What was the practical fruit of saying that?

Page: It is impossible for Barr to do his job the right way as long as the president continues to interfere with these investigations and these cases. But I think it’s clear that Barr is not going to do the job the right way. What happened in the Stone case…and I don’t know that everyone appreciates how extraordinary that is. I’ve been handling federal criminal cases for over 25 years now.

And to have the Department of Justice step in after a sentencing recommendation has been made by the front-line prosecutors and say, “No, no. No, we’ve changed our mind. That’s not our recommendation.” That’s extraordinary because that initial recommendation had to be approved to begin with.

So what I know happened here, even though there’s no, you know, trail of it, the president probably didn’t pick up the phone and talk to Barr, was that the decision to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Stone was made because of Trump’s involvement. There’s no question about that. And that’s highly extraordinary and it leads to a lack of confidence in the Justice Department.

Victor: Yeah.

Page: Because we’re all watching this unfold before our eyes.

Victor: Yeah, what’s interesting is that two days after we learned that the judge had denied Roger Stone’s request for a new trial, he’s now requesting a new trial again.

Page: Exactly.

Victor: And we’ll see where that goes now that there’s this degree of intervention. Page Pate, good to have you.

Page: Thank you, Victor.

Victor: All right.