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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."

Read the full filing.

Go deeper

Top aide to John Durham’s Trump-Russia investigation resigns

Connecticut prosecutor Nora Dannehy entering a taxi in Washington, D.C., in 2009. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Nora Dannehy, a senior prosecutor who worked with Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham on his investigation into U.S. intelligence agencies that examined allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, abruptly resigned from the Justice Department on Friday, the Hartford Courant first reported, citing unidentified colleagues.

Why it matters: Dannehy's departure may complicate the final stretch of the investigation amid mounting pressure from President Trump and his allies for published results before the November elections.

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with all Denver Broncos quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.