The federal judge handling the case against Michael Flynn signaled Tuesday he is not yet ready to grant the Justice Department’s request to throw out charges against the former national security adviser.
Emmet G. Sullivan, a district judge in Washington, D.C., said that he will allow for the submission of amicus curiae briefs, in which individuals and organizations who did not take part in the case can argue for or against the Justice Department’s request to withdraw charges against Flynn.
The Justice Department filed a motion last Thursday to drop charges against the retired general, citing evidence uncovered by U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Jensen.
Flynn pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017 to making false statements to the FBI in a January 2017 interview regarding his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But Flynn has sought to withdraw from the plea deal, claiming that he did not actually lie in the FBI interview.
Attorney General William Barr appointed Jensen in January to review evidence in Flynn’s case. The prosecutor discovered FBI documents that Barr says raised questions about the bureau’s investigation of Flynn.
The FBI was poised to close a counterintelligence investigation of Flynn as of Jan. 4, 2017, citing a lack of evidence that he was working in secret with Russia. But the FBI kept the investigation open after Flynn was discovered to have spoken with Kislyak in late December 2016.
Jensen obtained another FBI document which showed that the FBI’s chief of counterintelligence questioned whether the goal of an interview with Flynn was “to get him to lie” so that he could either be fired or prosecuted.
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Barr said in an interview last Thursday that the FBI did not have a legitimate basis to conduct the interview central to Flynn’s plea deal. Barr told CBS News that Flynn’s call with Kislyak was “laudable” given that he was about to begin working as a national security adviser.
Barr also accused the FBI of setting a “perjury trap” against Flynn, who was fired as national security adviser on Feb. 13, 2017.
Sullivan’s order granting amicus curiae filings will likely delay a decision on whether to grant the Justice Department’s request to dismiss charges. Democrats and critics of the Trump administration criticized the request to withdraw the charges against Flynn. More than 2,000 former Justice Department and FBI officials submitted a letter through the left-wing group, Project Democracy, requesting Barr’s resignation.
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