Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn gets out of a vehicle when he arrives for his trial at the U.S. District Court in Washington on December 18, 2018.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
A former federal judge said in a court case on Friday that the Justice Department̵
Former Judge John Gleeson’s harsh words came when he urged the judge on Flynn’s case, Emmet Sullivan, to deny the Department of Justice’s motion to stop prosecution and then convict Flynn of his crime of lied to the FBI.
Gleeson, who is now a private practice attorney, was appointed by Sullivan earlier this year to argue against the DOJ’s efforts pending in federal court in Washington.
On his file, Gleeson wrote that in its own court files requesting a dismissal, the Justice Department “makes virtually no effort to deny or disprove the strong evidence that his … request is wrongly aimed at imprimating that court to bet on a corrupt, politically motivated favor for the friend and ally of the president. “
Gleeson wrote that the Justice Department had “made blatantly fake attempts to justify what is clearly a corrupt political matter to the President”.
Flynn, a retired Army Lieutenant General who briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser, pleaded guilty nearly three years ago to lying to FBI agents about his talks with a Russian diplomat in the weeks leading up to Trump’s inauguration.
He has yet to be convicted in the case. For more than a year he has tried to reverse his conviction by making allegations of wrongdoing by the prosecutor and the FBI.
The Justice Department had fought Flynn’s efforts until a few months ago. But then an abrupt request was made to dismiss the case.
The then U.S. Interim Attorney for the District of Columbia, Timothy Shea, argued in the dismissal petition that the FBI’s interview with Flynn was not justified by a counterintelligence investigation and that his lies about what he told Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, are not “essential”. to this probe.
Such a dismissal request is highly unusual in a case where the prosecution received a conviction and even got the defendant to collaborate in an ongoing investigation, as Flynn did with the assistance of then Special Envoy Robert Mueller.
The dismissal motion came after Trump repeatedly criticized the persecution of Flynn despite firing Flynn for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about what he discussed with Kislyak. Pence said earlier this year that he was inclined to believe Flynn was simply making a mistake.
Gleeson cited this criticism when he beat up the Justice Department for failing to mention the effect of Trump’s comments in its own court records.
“The government disagrees – presumably because it cannot. In fact, nowhere does the government mention the president’s personal lobbying, let alone his virulent attacks on those previously involved in the prosecution,” said Gleeson.
“The only coherent explanation for the government’s extremely erratic motion – as well as for its demonstrable pretexts – is that the Justice Department has given in to a president-led pressure campaign for its political associate.”
Gleeson also wrote, “The government now has two chances to explain why its sudden doubt that Flynn was lying is believable.”
“It failed. There is no right to leave the court on that basis,” he added.
Gleeson said the recording in Flynn’s case is part of a pattern of “worrying signs of improper interference in criminal matters involving the president’s personal and political staff”.
He cited the Justice Department’s harsh downgrade of a verdict on Trump’s former campaign member, Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying by Congress. While trial attorneys recommended a harsh sentence to Stone, her Justice Department superiors overruled her in an extraordinary lawsuit demanding a shorter sentence.
Trump had condemned the persecution of Stone, as he did with Flynn’s case.
Stone eventually received a 40-month prison sentence. But just four days before his planned transfer to prison, Trump commuted this judgment.
Flynn’s attorneys and the Justice Department earlier this year asked a federal appeals court to force Sullivan to dismiss the case after failing to quickly approve the motion and after engaging Gleeson to argue against the offer.
An appeals court ruled in Flynn’s favor and ordered the case to be dismissed.
But Sullivan appealed that decision. And the appeals court soon overturned the panel’s decision, saying that Sullivan was allowed to rule on the dismissal motion one way or another first. Flynn can appeal Sullivan’s verdict if the judge refuses to throw the case.
Sullivan is expected to hear arguments on the dismissal motion later this month.
A Flynn attorney and a Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Gleeson’s court files on Friday.