The federal judge overseeing the criminal case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is refusing to drop the case against the retired Army lieutenant.
Last week, the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss its criminal case against Flynn.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia — who is overseeing the case — is required to either drop the charges or decline the DOJ’s motion to dismiss.
On Tuesday, Sullivan opened the door for legal experts and other outside parties to oppose the DOJ’s motion to drop the case, suggesting he has at least some skepticism about the government’s argument that Flynn should never have been charged.
Sullivan said he would set a schedule for outside parties to present arguments about the government’s request to dismiss the case. He did not directly address the Justice Department’s motion to drop the charge, but legal experts said he appeared open to considering not only the department’s arguments but also those who have challenged its move as politically motivated.
The judge’s order is the latest twist in a high-profile criminal case that has provoked widespread criticism of Attorney General William P. Barr and has renewed questions about political influence over the Justice Department. In an extraordinary move last week, federal prosecutors asked Judge Sullivan to throw out their case against Mr. Flynn for lying to F.B.I. agents, two and a half years after he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of making false statements to federal authorities.
Sullivan will essentially be the deciding factor as to whether the charges are dropped against Flynn.
“The judge can pretty much do anything he wants,” Michael Ledeen, a friend who co-wrote Flynn’s 2016 book ‘The Field of Fight,’ told the Times.
Needless to say, Flynn’s legal team was beyond angered by Sullivan’s decision to invite a public discussion of the DOJ’s decision to drop the charges.
“This court has consistently — on twenty-four (24) previous occasions — summarily refused to permit any third party to inject themselves or their views into this case,” Flynn’s legal team wrote in a motion filed after the judge’s order. “Only the Department of Justice and the defense can be heard.”
“Former prosecutors are all free to submit opinion pieces to assorted media outlets — as many have already done — but this court is not a forum for their alleged special interest,” Flynn’s lawyers wrote.
The DOJ filed its motion to dismiss the charges following newly released documents about the FBI’s handling of the Flynn case.
In the newly released documents, we learned that the FBI had drawn up paperwork to close the case against Flynn, but fired agent Peter Strzok made a last-minute move to keep it open.
Handwritten notes from the FBI — which were withheld from Flynn’s defense team for years — show that a key goal of the agents investigating Flynn was “to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”
House Intelligence Committee ranking Republican Rep. Devin Nunes also revealed over the weekend that the FBI’s original interview summary with Flynn is “missing.”