DC Circuit Court of Appeals Rules for Dismissal of Michael Flynn Case
The long-running and politically charged case against retired General and former NSA Michael Flynn has taken yet another turn.
A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered the dismissal of the case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, likely concluding a long-running court fight that had taken on greater meaning in political debates about the Russia investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign and about the checks and balances the judiciary has on the executive branch.
Despite Flynn twice pleading guilty for lying to the FBI about his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition, the Justice Department moved last month to dismiss the case against him. Trial judge Emmet Sullivan of the DC
District did not immediately act, instead saying he wanted to weigh the department’s arguments into at least July.
If unchallenged with further appeals, the appeals court’s ruling exonerates Flynn after he sought to change his plea and claimed innocence.
Flynn’s case has become a touchstone for President Donald Trump and his supporters in their criticism of the FBI’s Russia investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal prosecution of several Trump campaign associates. Even after the appeals decision, Trump and his supporters continued to attack the investigation, especially as it relates to Flynn. Flynn’s team made public a handwritten note on Wednesday that highlighted then-Vice President Joe Biden’s comments on Flynn in early January 2017 — seeking to again delegitimize the Obama administration’s discussions of the investigation.
Trump weighed in on the ruling on Twitter Wednesday, calling it “Great!” And Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, also touted the court’s decision at a hearing into Attorney General William Barr’s decision-making that began afternoon Wednesday.
A split the three-judge panel on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday decided Sullivan didn’t have enough reason to question the DOJ’s prosecution decisions in this case. They also said Sullivan having a third-party attorney weigh in on Flynn’s case, the former judge John Gleeson, isn’t needed anymore.
Sullivan “fails to justify the district court’s unprecedented intrusions on individual liberty and the Executive’s charging authority,” DC appeals court Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, wrote in the majority opinion.
Appeals court Judge Robert Wilkins disagreed with the decision of Rao and Judge Karen Henderson to short circuit the Flynn case in the trial court immediately. Wilkins wrote he supported allowing Sullivan to hold a hearing about Flynn’s dismissal request on July 16.
Gleeson later asked the trial court for guidance on what happens next, suggesting the case may stay alive for a few weeks.