WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A retired judge on Wednesday is due to file his arguments for why a federal court in Washington should not allow the Justice Department to dismiss its criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The U.S. district judge hearing the case, Emmet Sullivan, last month tapped retired colleague John Gleeson to serve as a “friend of the court,” after the Justice Department abruptly asked the court to dismiss the criminal charge against Flynn.
The stunning move by the Justice Department followed a pressure campaign by Trump and his conservative allies and came even though Flynn had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with former Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
Gleeson was tasked with arguing against the government’s motion, and Sullivan also asked him to make a recommendation on whether to hold Flynn in contempt for perjury.
Flynn was one of several former Trump aides charged under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He was Trump’s national security advisor briefly in early 2017.
After admitting to lying to the FBI, Flynn changed legal tactics and his attorneys now allege the FBI entrapped him.
The Justice Department now says the FBI investigation that led to the charge lacked an adequate legal basis and that Flynn’s statements, even if untrue, were not material.
Critics have accused Attorney General William Barr, who was appointed by Trump, of improperly meddling in the Flynn case to benefit the president’s personal interests.
After Sullivan refused to immediately dismiss the charges, Flynn filed an emergency petition asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to compel him to comply with the Justice Department’s request.
Sullivan has argued that he cannot serve as a mere rubber stamp and must carefully review the facts in this “unprecedented” request before proceeding.
Oral arguments in Flynn’s appellate case are scheduled for Friday.
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