Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images
A former judge appointed by District Judge Emmet Sullivan to review the Justice Department's motion to drop charges against Michael Flynn issued a scathing brief on Wednesday finding that Flynn committed perjury and accusing the DOJ of a "corrupt, politically motivated" dismissal.
The big picture: "The Government has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President," John Gleeson writes. "The facts of this case overcome the presumption of regularity. The Court should therefore deny the Government’s motion to dismiss, adjudicate any remaining motions, and then sentence the Defendant."
The backdrop: The Justice Department moved last month to drop its prosecution of Flynn, who pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation in 2017 to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with the former Russian ambassador.
- The DOJ under Attorney General Bill Barr argued that there was no justification for the FBI to interview Flynn in January 2017 and that prosecutors entrapped the former national security adviser into lying.
- The unusual and politically explosive decision prompted Sullivan to appoint Gleeson, a veteran prosecutor and former judge, to review the DOJ's motion.
- Flynn's lawyers have asked an appeals court to order Sullivan to comply with the DOJ's request and drop the case against Flynn. A hearing is scheduled for Friday.
Worth noting: While Gleeson argues that Flynn committed perjury, he urges Sullivan not to pursue contempt proceedings against Flynn for trying to withdraw his guilty plea and calls on the judge to factor it into his sentencing.
What he's saying: "The facts surrounding the filing of the Government's motion constitute clear evidence of gross prosecutorial abuse," Gleeson wrote. "They reveal an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump."
- "The truth is clear: nothing about the falsity of Flynn’s statements has changed since the Government told this Court that the evidence was 'consistent and clear that the defendant made multiple false statements to the agents.'"
- "Even recognizing that the Government is entitled to deference in assessing the strength of its case, these claims are not credible. Indeed, they are preposterous. ... [T]hey depend on misstatements of law, distortions of fact, and departures from positions that DOJ has repeatedly taken in cases not involving the President’s political allies."
- "Short of a direct admission, it is difficult to imagine stronger proof that the reasons given by the Government in support of dismissal are pretextual."