comscore Federal appeals court orders dismissal of Michael Flynn prosecution | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Top News

Federal appeals court orders dismissal of Michael Flynn prosecution

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / DEC. 2018
                                President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn arrived at federal court in Washington. A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered the dismissal of the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / DEC. 2018

    President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn arrived at federal court in Washington. A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered the dismissal of the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

WASHINGTON >> A federal appeals court today ordered the dismissal of the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said in a 2-1 ruling that the Justice Department’s decision to abandon the case against Flynn settles the matter, even though Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

It was a big win for the Justice Department as Democrats question whether it has become too politicized and Attorney General William Barr too quick to side with the president. The House is holding a hearing today on the topic. The decision also avoids a protracted court fight that would have delved deeper into the reasoning for the department’s extraordinary dismissal request.

Trump tweeted just moments after the ruling became public.

“Great! Appeals Court Upholds Justice Departments Request to Drop Criminal Case Against General Michael Flynn.”

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan had declined to immediately dismiss the case, seeking instead to evaluate on his own the department’s request. He appointed a retired federal judge to argue against the Justice Department’s position and to consider whether Flynn could be held in criminal contempt for perjury.

Flynn was the only White House official charged in Mueller’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI days after the president’s January 2017 inauguration about conversations he had had during the presidential transition period with the Russian ambassador.

The Justice Department moved to dismiss the case in May as part of a broader effort by Barr to scrutinize, and even undo, some of the decisions reached during the Russia investigation, which he has increasingly disparaged.

In its motion, the department argued that Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador — in which they discussed sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia for election interference — were appropriate and not material to the underlying counterintelligence investigation. The department also noted that weeks before the interview, the FBI had prepared to close its investigation into Flynn after not finding evidence of a crime.

But the retired judge appointed by Sullivan, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department’s request a “gross abuse” of prosecutorial power and accused the government of creating a pretext to benefit an ally of the president.

Today’s 2-1 opinion was authored by Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, and joined by Karen LeCraft Henderson, who had asked skeptical questions of lawyers for Flynn and the Justice Department during arguments earlier this month.

In a dissent, Judge Robert Wilkins wrote, “It is a great irony that, in finding the District Court to have exceeded its jurisdiction, this Court so grievously oversteps its own.”

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature
Comments (79)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Scroll Up