While judges typically sign off on such motions, Sullivan could refuse and instead demand answers from the DOJ about who requested the sudden about-face, said Seth Waxman, a former federal prosecutor now at the law firm Dickinson Wright.

“If Judge Sullivan wanted to he could conduct an inquiry and start asking a lot of questions,” said Waxman…

While the judge still has to rule on the submission, elated supporters of Flynn said there was no way Sullivan could force the department to prosecute if it did not want to. But the judge could stop Flynn from withdrawing his guilty plea and impose sentence. In that case, Trump could pardon Flynn.

The judge is unlikely to sign off on the request as a pro forma matter, said Channing Phillips, the former acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia during the Obama administration, adding that with Sullivan “nothing is pro forma.”