WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal judge made it clear on Tuesday that he would not immediately rule on the Department of Justice’s decision to dismiss his criminal case against Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and said he would instead use external individuals and Groups weigh up their opinions.
The move suggests that U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan isn’t inclined to automatically stamp the department’s plan to dismiss the Flynn indictment.
Flynn pleaded guilty as part of Special Envoy Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation into lying to the FBI for talking to the then Russian ambassador to the United States during the President’s transition period.
But the Department of Justice said last week that the FBI didn’t have enough foundation to question Flynn at all, and statements he made during the interview for a more in-depth investigation into counterintelligence on Russia-Trump relations- Campaign are not essential.
The department said the dismissal of the case was in the interests of justice and that it followed the recommendation of a U.S. attorney appointed by Attorney General William Barr to investigate the treatment of the Flynn investigation.
The decision must first be made by Sullivan, who said in a written order Tuesday evening that “given the current state of the case,” he predicted “individuals and organizations will seek permission from the Court” to file briefs in which they express their opinion.
This is a likely indication of the considerable debate that the Justice Department has sparked over the past week. Some former law enforcement officers who participated in the investigation expressed their dismay at the planned release through public statements or newspaper articles.
The judge said he expected to set a schedule for filing briefs known as Amicus Curiae – or court friend – briefs.
In a court case on Tuesday evening, Flynn lawyers contested an Amicus brief that a group that identified itself as “Watergate Prosecutors” had announced that it would file the brief.
“Criminal proceedings are a dispute between the United States and a defendant. There is no room for third parties to interfere in the dispute and certainly not to assume the role of government attorney, “wrote Flynn’s lawyers.
Sullivan may also ask the department for additional information about his decision, including details of why she abruptly abandoned a case she had brought to court since 2017, when Flynn pleaded guilty.
In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday evening, the Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the Ministry’s position in the motion to dismiss the case was clear.
“We do not believe that this case should have been brought up, we are correcting it and we certainly hope that the judge will finally agree in the interest of true justice and drop the case against General Flynn,” she said.
Associate writer Michael Balsamo from Washington contributed to this report.