The federal judge in Michael Flynn’s case has decided he’s not ready to wrap up the case yet, regardless of the fact that the DOJ is dropping the case. Today, Judge Emmet Sullivan appointed a former judge to argue against the government’s decision and consider whether Flynn should be charged with perjury for pleading guilty:
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia said in a brief order that he had appointed John Gleeson, a retired judge, “to present arguments in opposition to” the department’s request to withdraw the charge against Mr. Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to investigators as part of a larger inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Judge Sullivan also asked Judge Gleeson to address whether the court should explore the possibility that Mr. Flynn opened himself up to perjury charges by pleading guilty under oath to a felony charge of making false statements to federal authorities. Mr. Flynn entered guilty pleas twice in front of two judges but later sought to withdraw his plea.
They couldn’t charge Flynn with violating the Logan Act so they charged him with lying to the FBI. Now that he has attempted to withdraw his guilty plea in the case, the judge is now considering charging him with perjury for lying to the court about his guilt.
The selection of Judge Gleeson is not a coincidence. Gleeson was the co-author of an opinion piece in the Washington Post Monday which recommended Judge Sullivan take exactly this course of action. Gleeson did everything but recommend himself by name.
The Justice Department’s move to dismiss the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn does not need to be the end of the case — and it shouldn’t be. The Justice Department has made conflicting statements to the federal judge overseeing the case, Emmet G. Sullivan. He has the authority, the tools and the obligation to assess the credibility of the department’s stated reasons for abruptly reversing course…
Fortunately, the court has many tools to vindicate the public interest. It can require the career prosecutor to explain why he stepped off the case, as another federal judge recently did when the Trump administration attempted to replace a trial team litigating the politicization of the census. It can appoint an independent attorney to act as a “friend of the court,” ensuring a full, adversarial inquiry, as the judge in the Flynn case has done in other situations where the department abdicated its prosecutorial role.
Gleeson has already revealed he disagrees strongly with the government’s decision:
There has been nothing regular about the department’s effort to dismiss the Flynn case. The record reeks of improper political influence. Hours after the career prosecutor abruptly withdrew, the department moved to dismiss the indictment in a filing signed only by an interim U.S. attorney, a former aide to Attorney General William P. Barr whom Barr had installed in the position months before.
Judge Sullivan knew in advance what Judge Gleeson would say about this which is clearly why he selected him. Rather than refusing to dismiss the case on his own, he has decided to phone a friend.