Former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday slammed President Donald Trump for obsessing over the Michael Flynn case during the coronavirus crisis, accusing the president of seeking to divert attention from his inadequate response to the pandemic.
“This is all about diversion,” Biden told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “This is a game this guy plays all the time. The country is in crisis ... He should stop trying to always divert attention from the real concerns of the American people.”
“The American people are worried with good reason,” the former vice president continued. “We don’t have coronavirus because of him, but we have the devastating impact of it because of his lack of a policy, his lack of action.”
In a shocking turn of events last week, the Justice Department dropped charges against Flynn, the former White House national security adviser who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian official.
Flynn had tried to withdraw his guilty plea in recent months, claiming he’d been illegally entrapped by the FBI agents who’d questioned him. A federal judge rejected that argument in December.
But in a court filing last week, U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea, a Trump appointee, said the investigation “seems to have been undertaken only to elicit those very false statements and thereby criminalize Mr. Flynn.”
Trump fired Flynn in February 2017 for lying to Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI, but has since reversed course on the matter. In recent months, he’s defended Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, as a “war hero” who was steamrolled by “dirty cops.”
This week, Trump accused both former President Barack Obama and Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee, of acting illegally when the Justice Department began investigating Flynn in late 2016.
“OBAMAGATE makes Watergate look small time!” Trump tweeted Monday.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested Monday that he would like to know what Obama and Biden knew about the Flynn probe and when. But he stopped short of calling on Congress to investigate the former president.
Asked Tuesday what he knew about the probe and whether anything improper was done, Biden told “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos that he knows “nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn.”
Stephanopoulos cited accounts that Biden and Obama were briefed during a Jan. 5, 2017, meeting with intelligence officials on the FBI’s plan to question Flynn.
“I thought you asked me whether or not I had anything to do with him being prosecuted. I’m sorry,” Biden said. “I was aware that they asked for an investigation. But that’s all I know about it, and I don’t think anything else.”
Stephanopoulos then asked whether the Justice Department was right to drop the charges against Flynn. Biden pointed to an open letter signed by roughly 2,000 former Justice Department officials calling for Attorney General William Barr to resign over the department’s handling of the Flynn case.
“I have been absolutely stunned by the way in which he has not conducted the office properly,” Biden said. “But look, I don’t know the detail of where we are right now. My point is a simple one: Focus on what’s in front of us. You have plenty of time to investigate this issue.”
“I think there’s nothing there there,” he continued. “But it’s not a surprise that in fact the Justice Department decided anybody who was an ally of the president didn’t do anything wrong ever anyway.”