U.S. District Court Judge Emmett G. Sullivan has hired a high-powered attorney to defend his decision not to immediately grant the Justice Department’s (DOJ’s) request to dismiss its case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Attorney Beth Wilkinson, who is known in D.C. for taking on high-profile defendants, will represent Sullivan, according to a report published in The Washington Post on Saturday, May 23.
The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is currently reviewing whether Sullivan overstepped his authority in the case against Flynn after his attorney earlier this week filed an emergency petition seeking that the prosecution be dismissed as the DOJ has requested, and for Sullivan to be taken off the case. The appeals court set a June 1 deadline for Sullivan’s response.
Flynn initially pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition but later sought to withdraw the plea “because of the government’s bad faith, vindictiveness, and breach of the plea agreement.”
The Justice Department earlier this month moved to drop its criminal case against Flynn after internal documents were released raising serious questions about the FBI’s conduct and the nature of the investigation.
Why did the DOJ drop charges against Michael Flynn
The DOJ argues that the FBI lacked sufficient grounds to interview Flynn in the first place and then requested Sullivan dismiss the case but he appointed instead a retired judge to argue against the DOJ’s position and to consider if Flynn should be held in contempt for perjury.
Flynn’s attorneys said Sullivan “has no authority to adopt the role of prosecutor or change the issues in the case.”
“This is an umpire who has decided to steal public attention from the players and focus it on himself,” the lawyers wrote. “He wants to pitch, bat, run bases and play shortstop. In truth, he is way out in left field.”
Sidney Powell, lead on Flynn’s legal team, retweeted comments from Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to Trump team, in response to the news.
“Sullivan is now a one-man circus as judge, prosecutor, AND defendant in the same case,” wrote Ellis.
Sullivan is now a one-man circus as judge, prosecutor, AND defendant in the same case. https://t.co/fcFJpVn2Dv
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) May 23, 2020