A federal appeals court on Wednesday just gave a huge win To Mike Flynn and the Trump administration and ordered a judge to grant the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals approved Flynn’s petition and sided with Bill Barr’s Justice Department.
From Bloomberg: A three-judge appellate panel on Wednesday denied U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan the authority to examine whether the government’s surprise motion to dismiss the case, in which Flynn pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI, was part of a corrupt effort to aid one of Trump’s political allies.
The appeals court said such an inquiry would harm the executive branch’s exclusive prosecutorial power. “The contemplated proceedings would likely require the Executive to reveal the internal deliberative process behind its exercise of prosecutorial discretion, interfering with the Article II charging authority,” the opinion said.
The ruling is a win for Trump, who has repeatedly slammed the case against Flynn as part of a broader conspiracy by Democrats to undermine him and his administration. The Justice Department reversed course on its prosecution of Flynn last month, requesting the court drop the case because Flynn’s lies to the two agents weren’t “material” to the Russia probe and he shouldn’t have been interviewed in the first place.
The latest ruling, which may be appealed to the full circuit court and the Supreme Court, is another twist in a prosecution that began when Flynn lied to two FBI agents in January 2017 about phone calls with the Russian ambassador, part of Robert Mueller’s investigating foreign interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Fired by Trump soon after, Flynn pleaded guilty twice. He later sought to change his plea.
Instead, Sullivan appointed a former federal judge and mob prosecutor, John Gleeson, to argue against the Justice Department’s dismissal motion. Gleeson issued a blistering amicus brief saying that the request was a politically motivated attempt to help an ally of the president and should be denied.
Lawyers for Flynn and the government went to the appeals court in Washington to try and stop Sullivan’s probe. They argued at a June 12 hearing that Sullivan was barred by the constitutional separation of powers from doing anything other than immediately granting the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss. Sullivan’s lawyer argued the unusual nature of the case warranted digging deeper into the government’s reasoning.
The three-judge panel's 2-1 rulin — authored by RAO — focused heavily on the "presumption of regularity" that attaches to DOJ actions, and notes that the new evidence submitted by DOJ, which led to move to dismiss charges, should be treated as good-faith. pic.twitter.com/tBhCaGpiwZ
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) June 24, 2020