President Trump commented on an Appeals Court decision that ordered charges against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn be dropped.
A federal appeals court Wednesday ordered a judge to dismiss the charge against President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents.
The 2-1 ruling by the panel of appellate judges stressed the power of the Department of Justice, which has sought to drop its prosecution of Flynn, to make criminal charging decisions given its status as part of the executive branch.
The ruling came in response to a request for a so-called writ of mandamus, or judicial directive, from Flynn’s lawyers.
The defense attorneys asked the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after the trial judge did not promptly grant the Justice Department’s highly unusual motion to dismiss the case.
Instead, Judge Emmet Sullivan appointed a lawyer, former federal judge John Gleeson, to make arguments to him about why the case should not be tossed out. Sullivan also said he would consider arguments for or against the dismissal request from third parties not connected to the case.
Appeals court Judge Neomi Rao, in the decision for the majority Wednesday, wrote that the case is about whether a trial court judge can prolong a criminal case and appoint a so-called friend of the court such as Gleeson as a legal advisor after prosecutors have “explained why a prosecution is no longer in the public interest.”
“On that, both the Constitution and [prior legal] cases are clear: he may not,” wrote Rao, who was appointed by Trump.
It is not clear whether the ruling will be the last word in the case. A judge on the appeals court could ask for a review by all the court’s judges. Such an review, known as an en banc hearing, is not usually granted in the D.C. circuit unless a case “involves a question of exceptional importance,” or is needed to “maintain uniformity of the court’s decisions,”
Beth Wilkinson, an attorney representing Sullivan in the appeals court proceedings, declined CNBC’s request for comment.
Like the Justice Department’s dismissal request, Sullivan’s lack of immediate agreement with it and Flynn’s request that an appeals court force Sullivan to comply were extremely unusual. An en banc review would add to the already odd nature of Flynn’s case.
Trump praised Wednesday’s appeals court ruling, tweeting that it was “Great!”
Donald J. Trump
Great! Appeals Court Upholds Justice Departments Request To Drop Criminal Case Against General Michael Flynn!
10:40 AM – Jun 24, 2020
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Trump in an Oval Office meeting later Wednesday said he was very happy with the decision.
The White House
“What happened to General Flynn should never happen again in our country.”
3:13 PM – Jun 24, 2020
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The president has been highly critical of the prosecution of Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who pleaded guilty in late 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration.
“We are delighted to see the D.C. Circuit apply the Rule of Law and appreciate the professionalism of the Department of Justice in producing the exculpatory evidence and moving to dismiss a case that should never have been brought,” Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell said in an email to CNBC.
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