In a major reversal, the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday moved to drop criminal charges against President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
The DOJ, which is headed by Trump loyalist - Attorney General William Barr - filed the motion to dismiss the charges.
A Federal prosecutor - who was appointed by Barr less than three months ago to review the DOJ’s handling of Flynn’s case - said he advised Barr to dismiss it.
The DOJ’s extraordinary move comes amid mounting pressure from Trump’s political allies on the right who argued that the FBI entrapped Flynn.
...and as Flynn has sought to withdraw his 2017 guilty plea.
He had admitted to lying to the FBI about interactions with Russia's ambassador to the United States in the weeks before Trump took office… marking one of the first cases to emerge from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.
Trump on Thursday applauded the DOJ's decision on Flynn:
"He was an innocent man. He is a great gentleman. He was targeted by the (former president Barack) Obama administration and he was targeted in order to try and take down a president. And what they've done is a disgrace and I hope a big price is going to be paid...So I’m very happy for General Flynn"
Yet it was Trump who fired Flynn back in 2017:
TRUMP (February 16, 2017): "Mike Flynn is a fine person and I asked for his resignation. The thing is he didn't tell our Vice President properly and then he said he didn't remember. So either way it wasn't very satisfactory to me."
On Thursday - a lead career prosecutor unexpectedly withdrew from handling Flynn’s case…
Echoing when, earlier this year, career prosecutors handling the case against Trump's longtime friend Roger Stone quit in protest, after Barr moved to scale back the department's sentencing recommendation against Stone.
A U.S. District Court Judge - who has presided over the Flynn case - must now rule on the DOJ's motion.