WASHINGTON ― A federal appeals court, in a 2-1 decision, moved to force a federal judge to dismiss a criminal case against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has twice admitted his guilt.
The Justice Department, led by Attorney General William Barr, had moved to dismiss the case against Donald Trump associate Flynn, who has admitted to lying to the FBI about his communications with the Russian government.
Judge Neomi Rao of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a Trump appointee who formerly served in the Trump administration, wrote the majority opinion, saying that allowing U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to examine the Justice Department’s reasons for moving to drop the charge “will result in specific harms to the exercise of the Executive Branch’s exclusive prosecutorial power.” She was joined by Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, a George W. Bush appointee.
In a dissent, Circuit Judge Robert Leon Wilkins, a Barack Obama appointee, wrote that the majority opinion declares that the government had no duty to inform the court of its reasons for seeking dismissal “in spite of the Government’s abrupt reversal on the facts and the law, and although the Government declares itself entitled not to be forthcoming with the District Court.”
“This is no mere about-face; it is more akin to turning around an aircraft carrier,” Wilkins wrote, adding that district court “must be given a reasonable opportunity to consider and hold a hearing on the Government’s request to ensure that it is not clearly contrary to the public interest.”
It wasn’t clear whether the entire federal appeals court will review the ruling by the panel of three judges.
The opinion came down less than two hours before a federal prosecutor who worked on the case against Roger Stone was scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on alleged political interference in the sentencing process.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.