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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:

Go deeper: The facts on Michael Flynn, the FBI, and Bill Barr’s bombshell

Go deeper

Senate report finds Manafort passed campaign data to Russian intelligence officer

Paul Manafort. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released the fifth and final volume of its report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, which details "counterintelligence threats and vulnerabilities."

Why it matters: The bipartisan, 966-page report goes further than the Mueller report in showing the extent of Russia's connections to members of the Trump campaign, and how the Kremlin was able to take advantage of the transition team's inexperience to gain access to sensitive information.

Judge throws out Trump's effort to block subpoena for financial records

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit from President Trump that sought to block Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's subpoena for his financial records.

Why it matters: The Supreme Court ruled last month that presidents are not immune from investigation, denying Trump the sweeping grant of presidential power he had asked for. The court gave Vance the right to access records from Trump's financial institutions as part of a criminal investigation, but sent the case back down to the lower courts so that Trump's lawyers could continue to fight the subpoena.

1 hour ago - World

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai detained on fraud charge

An activist holds a placard highlighting China's Tiananmen Square massacre as pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates' Court in Hong Kong in November. Photo: Isaac Wong/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is being detained until an April court hearing after the pro-democracy supporter was charged Thursday with fraud, per his Apple Daily news outlet.

Why it matters: The 72-year-old's arrest and denial of bail is another blow for the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony amid concerns about a fresh crackdown on activists.