Bid to dismiss Flynn charges appears to be a 'corrupt and politically motivated favor,' report says
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Photo from Shutterstock.com.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s bid to dismiss charges against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser appears to be a “corrupt and politically motivated favor,” according to a report by a former judge tasked with opposing the government request.
Gleeson is currently a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton.
“In the United States, presidents do not orchestrate pressure campaigns to get the Justice Department to drop charges against defendants who have pleaded guilty—twice, before two different judges—and whose guilt is obvious,” Gleeson wrote.
Flynn had previously pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russia’s ambassador, but he later sought to withdraw the plea. The government said it wanted to drop the case because Flynn’s lies weren’t material to the investigation regarding whether Flynn was an agent of a foreign power.
Gleeson said there is clear evidence that the government’s motion to dismiss “rests on pure pretext,” and its arguments would “reduce this court to a rubber stamp.”
Flynn had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to order Sullivan to drop the prosecution. The en banc appeals court refused to do so in an Aug. 31 opinion.
The government had argued that there is no longer a case or controversy for Sullivan to decide because prosecutors and Flynn agreed that the charge should be dismissed. Gleeson said there remains a controversy until Sullivan rules on the dismissal motion, and the judge has the power to deny it.
Dismissal motions may be denied when there is clear evidence that the statement of reasons is pretextual or there is clear evidence of prosecutorial abuse, Gleeson said. Gleeson said the government had misstated the legal standard governing materiality, and Flynn’s lies “were obviously material” to the FBI’s investigation of potential threats to national security.
“The government makes virtually no effort to deny or rebut the powerful evidence that its [dismissal] motion improperly seeks to place this court’s imprimatur on a corrupt, politically motivated favor for the president’s friend and ally,” Gleeson wrote.
“Flynn is a close ally of President Trump, who personally pressured the FBI director to ‘let this go’ within weeks of Flynn’s crime, who has since repeatedly made clear his desire for Flynn to avoid criminal liability, … and who has expressed a desire to re-hire Flynn within his administration. …
“Allowing dismissal for these ‘irregular’ reasons would necessarily ‘implicate this court’ in denigrating ‘settled, foundational norms of prosecutorial independence.’ ”
Flynn’s laywer, Sidney Powell, told the Washington Post that Gleeson’s report was “predictable and meaningless.”