May 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Court asks retired judge to examine whether Flynn committed perjury

President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on June 24, 2019 in Washington, DC.
President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn leaves the court in Washington, D.C., last June. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

A federal judge indicated President Trump's first national security adviser Michael Flynn could be held in contempt of court for perjury as he appointed an outsider on Wednesday to review the case.

Details: Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan said in an order he appointed retired judge John Gleeson "to present arguments in opposition to the government's Motion to Dismiss" and on "whether the Court should issue an Order to Show Cause why Mr. Flynn should not be held in criminal contempt for perjury."

Why it matters: It's the latest twist and a highly unusual move in the high-profile case that's prompted accusations from almost 2,000 former Department of Justice officials and former President Obama that Attorney General Bill Barr politicized the DOJ with its decision to drop charges to side with President Trump and his allies.

The big picture: Flynn is seeking to withdraw his guilty plea related to allegedly lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

  • The DOJ said in its filing following a review of the case that the interview in which Flynn lied to the FBI "was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn," and "conducted without any legitimate investigative basis."
  • Trump has said he would consider bringing Flynn back into the administration, calling him "essentially exonerated" after FBI documents released as part of Flynn's effort to withdraw his guilty plea showed that bureau officials had asked whether their "goal" was "to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired."

Of note: Gleeson, who was appointed to the federal bench in New York by former President Clinton, already expressed his views on Flynn's case in a Washington Post op-ed he co-authored earlier this week.

  • "Government motions to dismiss at this stage are virtually unheard of,” Gleeson and his co-authors wrote. "There has been nothing regular about the department’s effort to dismiss the Flynn case. The record reeks of improper political influence."
  • After the judge's decision, Trump retweeted a report on two Republican senators releasing a declassified list from acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell naming the Obama administration officials who asked to "unmask" Flynn's identity when he was under government surveillance.

Read the judge's order, via DocumentCloud:

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