(Headline USA) A federal appeals court in Washington on Monday declined to order the dismissal of the Michael Flynn prosecution, permitting a judge to scrutinize the Justice Department‘s request to dismiss its case against the President Donald Trump‘s former national security adviser.
The decision keeps the matter at least temporarily alive and rejects efforts by both Flynn’s lawyers and the Justice Department to force the prosecution to be dropped without any further inquiry from the judge, who has months declined to dismiss it.
Federal prosecutors moved in May to dismiss the prosecution even though Flynn had pleaded guilty and admitted lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation about his Russian contacts during the presidential transition period. He was awaiting sentencing when the government asked to dismiss the case.
But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, signaling his skepticism at the government’s motion, refused to immediately grant the request and instead appointed a retired federal judge to argue against the Justice Department’s position.
His lawyers then sought to bypass Sullivan and obtain a order from the federal appeals court that would have required the judge to immediately force the judge to dismiss the case.
At issue before the court was not the merits of the Flynn prosecution but rather whether Sullivan could be forced to grant the Justice Department’s dismissal request without even holding a hearing to scrutinize the basis for the motion.
“We have no trouble answering that question in the negative,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion for the eight judges in the majority.
Flynn was the only person charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation who had been a White House official.
Mueller’s probe investigated ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia, which proved to be nonexistent.
He was questioned by the FBI at the White House, just days after Trump’s inauguration, about his conversations with the then-Russian ambassador to the U.S. pertaining to sanctions that had just been imposed by the Obama administration for election interference.
Flynn—under the bad advice of his prior counsel, which also happened to employ Obama Attorney General Eric Holder—accepted a plea deal for lying to the FBI as part of the Mueller investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia.
But notes from the FBI agents preparing for his interview, just days after he assumed office as Trump’s first national security adviser, revealed that the agents intentionally sought to lay a perjury trap for him.
Later revelations showed that the corruption went all the way to the top, with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, then-national security adviser Susan Rice, FBI Director James Comey and others discussing how they might ensnare Flynn by using the antiquated Logan Act of 1799 against him.
The Justice Department argued in May that the FBI had insufficient basis to interrogate Flynn about that conversation, which Attorney General William Barr has described as fully appropriate for an incoming national security adviser to have had.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.