WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who previously pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, asked a U.S. appeals court on Tuesday to force a judge to dismiss the criminal case against him as requested by the Justice Department.
The department’s May 7 reversal in the case drew accusations from Democrats and retired career prosecutors that Attorney General William Barr was politicizing the U.S. criminal justice system to benefit Trump’s friends and associates.
In an emergency petition, Flynn’s lawyers asked that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia order Judge Emmet Sullivan to grant the department’s request to dismiss the case. Sullivan last week signaled reluctance to drop the charges, appointing a retired judge to advise whether Flynn should face an additional criminal contempt charge for perjury.
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who also advised Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s U.S. ambassador, but later sought to withdraw his plea and accused the FBI of tricking him. The Justice Department’s decision to ask Sullivan to drop the charges followed public pressure from Trump and the Republican president’s political allies.
Flynn’s petition argued that if further proceedings are held the case should be reassigned to another judge, saying Sullivan’s conduct “bespeaks a judge who is not only biased against Petitioner, but also revels in the notoriety he has created.”
Sullivan on Tuesday said he would hold an in-person oral argument in the case on July 16.
The appeals court likely will deny Flynn’s request because Sullivan has done nothing to violate his rights, said Deepak Gupta, an appellate lawyer in Washington not involved in the case.
“The judge has neither denied nor granted the government’s motion to dismiss,” Gupta said. “At the very least, this request to the appellate court is premature.”
Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Scott Malone and Will Dunham