Aug 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Appeals court denies Michael Flynn's request to immediately drop case

Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

The full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an 8-2 ruling on Monday denying former national security adviser Michael Flynn's petition to force a federal judge to immediately drop his criminal case, as requested by the Justice Department.

Why it matters: The ruling will allow District Judge Emmet Sullivan to hold hearings to discuss the motion to dismiss the case against Flynn, who pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the former Russian ambassador.

The big picture: The Justice Department under Attorney General Bill Barr moved to dismiss the charges against Flynn in May, following a review that alleged prosecutorial misconduct by the FBI agents who had interviewed Flynn.

  • Judge Sullivan pumped the brakes on the case and sought to hear from outside parties on whether he should accept the government's motion.
  • Flynn's lawyers subsequently asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to order Judge Sullivan to immediately drop the case before hearings could be held.
  • A panel of three judges ruled 2-1 that Sullivan must accept the request, but the full 11-judge court of appeals — which issued Monday's ruling — agreed to rehear the case.

Between the lines: An ex-judge appointed by Sullivan to review the case as an amicus, or adviser to the court, issued a scathing brief in June alleging that Flynn committed perjury and accusing the DOJ of a "corrupt, politically motivated" dismissal.

  • The appeals court's majority ruling found that Sullivan was justified in appointing an amicus to help advise his decision, and rejected assertions by Flynn's lawyers that Sullivan was biased.
  • It's still possible that Sullivan will agree to drop the case after holding hearings.

Read the ruling.

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