Appeals Court Rejects Michael Flynn’s Effort to Dismiss Charges

Former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse following a sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court December 18, 2018. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, alongside the Department of Justice (DOJ), recently pushed for a motion to essentially throw out his criminal case which Flynn pleaded guilty to in 2017. A federal appeals court rejected it.

What We Know:

  • The decision came from an 8-2 ruling in which the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals claimed the request was premature. They concluded that, based on a previous issue, D.C. District Judge Emmet Sullivan did not abuse his power by not immediately dismissing the case against Flynn.
  • In late 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty on account of lying to the FBI about his contacts with the former Russian ambassador. He sought to withdraw his original plea, after citing his cooperation in the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 US election that was led by now-former special counsel member Robert Mueller.
  • Moreover, Flynn ended up backing out on the plea agreement and hired a conservative lawyer to fight the charges rather than accepting a guilty plea. Before this could end up happening, the DOJ decided in May to put a hold on dropping the charges and case overall.

  • CBS News reported that Judge Sullivan acted accordingly and responded by appointing retired federal judge, John Gleeson, to argue against the DOJ. Flynn petitioned the D.C. Circuit to step in and essentially force Sullivan to dismiss the charges before a counter-argument could be made.
  • Flynn’s petition was granted on a 2-1 ruling by a panel of three circuit court judges. Two of the judges, that ended up making the majority of the panel, were the dissenters from the court’s decision on Monday.
  • One of the dissenters, Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, wrote in her dissent in a 61-page ruling explaining how Sullivan’s effort to hold arguments on the DOJ’s move is an “unconstitutional check on the executive branch’s prosecution powers”.

Rao stated that by “allowing the district court to scrutinize ‘the reasoning and motives’ of the Department of Justice, the majority ducks our obligation to correct judicial usurpations of executive power and leaves Flynn to twist in the wind while the district court pursues a prosecution without a prosecutor.”