Judge in Michael Flynn case defends decision not to immediately drop criminal case

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Gen. Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to US President Donald Trump, leaves Federal Court on December 1, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan on Monday defended his refusal to immediately grant the Justice Department’s request to drop its case against President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor, Michael Flynn.

The Justice Department last month abruptly dropped its prosecution of Flynn, who had repeatedly pleaded guilty in court to lying to the FBI about his conversations with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the weeks prior to Trump’s inauguration.

Rather than immediately grant the request, Sullivan has appointed retired Judge John Gleeson to make legal arguments on why the case should continue, and to analyze whether he should hold Flynn in criminal contempt for perjury for pleading guilty to a charge of which he now claims he is innocent.

“It is unusual for a criminal defendant to claim innocence and move to withdraw his guilty plea after repeatedly swearing under oath that he committed the crime,” a lawyer for Sullivan said in a 46-page court filing in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

“It is unprecedented for an Acting U.S. Attorney to contradict the solemn representations that career prosecutors made time and again, and undermine the district court’s legal and factual findings, in moving on his own to dismiss the charge years after two different federal judges accepted the defendant’s plea,” Sullivan’s lawyers wrote.

Flynn’s lawyers had asked the appeals court to drop the case and assign any future court proceedings to another judge. A panel of judges on that bench ordered Sullivan to respond to Flynn’s request by Monday.

Flynn’s lawyer did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Sullivan’s brief.

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2020-06-01 16:17:32

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