Fox News host Sean Hannity on Friday called for the criminal charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn to be dropped.
Hannity’s comments came hours after Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a controversial memo alleging that FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials misused their authority to obtain a surveillance warrant on a former Trump campaign adviser.
“If we as a country, if we care about the Constitution, if we believe in civil liberties, if we believe in those protections, then the special counsel must be disbanded immediately,” Hannity said on his show.
“And by the way – nobody else will say this – all charges against Paul Manafort and Gen. Michael Flynn need to be dropped,” he added. “It’s that simple.”
Hannity’s argument seized on the allegation in the GOP memo that FBI officials used a dossier of unverified allegations about President Trump‘s ties to Russia as a key piece of evidence in obtaining the surveillance order from a clandestine court.
That dossier, which was commissioned by the private research firm Fusion GPS and compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, was funded by Hillary Clinton‘s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Still, the memo also undercut a long-held assertion by conservatives that the counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign was based entirely on the dossier. According to the memo, the probe was opened based on “information” on another Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos.
The memo’s release was contentious, with Republicans arguing that revealing the information was necessary to shed light on abuses by FBI and DOJ officials. Democrats, on the other hand, argued that the memo omitted key facts that would have put the information in the proper context.
Democrats have also accused Republicans of seeking to undermine and discredit special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Manafort was indicted in October as a result of Mueller’s investigation. He is facing multiple charges, including tax evasion, money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent.
Flynn pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in the month before Trump took office. He has acknowledged that he is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.
SOURCE: The Hill