The U.S. judge weighing whether to drop a criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former adviser Michael Flynn faces a Monday deadline to respond to the Justice Department’s bombshell request to drop a charge to which Flynn has pleaded guilty.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered Judge Emmet Sullivan to respond by June 1 after Flynn, who briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser, filed an emergency petition in line with the Justice Department’s request.
Sullivan has tapped attorney Beth Wilkinson, one of the former top prosecutors on the Oklahoma City bombing case, to represent him in the appellate court case.
Sullivan has not yet ruled on the May 7 request by Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department to drop the false-statement charge against Flynn.
Critics have accused the Justice Department of acting to advance Trump’s personal interests, including by seeking a lighter sentence for Trump ally Roger Stone.
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI about his conversations with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn initially agreed to cooperate, but he later changed legal tactics and pursued a scorched-earth approach that included accusing the FBI of a secret plot to entrap him.
Barr this year tapped Jeff Jensen, a federal prosecutor in St. Louis, to review the case. Jensen later urged Barr to drop it on the grounds the investigation lacked a proper legal basis.
That led the lead prosecutor on the Flynn case to withdraw.
Sullivan tapped retired judge John Gleeson to serve as a “friend of the court” and instructed him to present arguments against the department – including whether he should hold Flynn in contempt for perjury.
Gleeson’s legal brief is due June 10.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Scott Malone and Tom Brown)