U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who was appointed by Bill Clinton, is eyeing possible possible contempt charge for perjury in the Michael Flynn criminal case.
TheHill reports the federal judge presiding over former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s criminal case suggested on Wednesday that he is considering the possibility of holding President Trump’s former aide in contempt for perjury.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan also tapped a retired federal judge to argue against the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) motion to drop the criminal prosecution of Flynn.
John Gleeson, who spent 22 years as a judge and served as a federal prosecutor before entering private practice, will serve as an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, in opposition to the DOJ’s recently adopted position that Flynn’s case should be dismissed.
Among the issues Sullivan has asked Gleeson to address is “whether the Court should issue an Order to Show Cause why Mr. Flynn should not be held in criminal contempt for perjury.”
The move comes after the DOJ last week asked Sullivan to drop the charges against Flynn for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia shortly before Trump took office, despite Flynn having previously pleaded guilty.
That placed Flynn’s fate in the hands of Sullivan, a Clinton appointee who has been on the bench since 1994 and is regarded as having a fierce independent streak.
A group of more than a dozen former Watergate prosecutors on Tuesday expressed concerns to Sullivan that the DOJ could not be counted on to give the court a balanced presentation of the issues surrounding its move to drop Flynn’s prosecution.
The Watergate prosecutors said DOJ’s move raised concerns about whether its decision was taken in good faith, and even suggested the court may have grounds to reject Flynn’s dismissal. In a forthcoming brief, the group said, they plan to address “whether the Court should instead deny the motion and proceed to sentencing.”
The extent to which Gleeson may adopt a similar line of argument before the court is unclear. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said Gleeson has a track record of adopting positions he believed to be fair, even if unpopular.
Per Breitbart, Gleeson published an op-ed in the Washington Post Monday criticizing the Trump administration.
Retired Judge John Gleeson was appointed by Judge Emmet Sullivan, who is presiding over the Flynn case, both to oppose the Department of Justice motion to drop the case and to argue Sullivan should begin proceedings to hold Flynn in contempt.
In an op-ed titled “The Flynn case isn’t over until the judge says it’s over,” Gleeson and two co-authors wrote (original links and emphasis):
There has been nothing regular about the department’s effort to dismiss the Flynn case. The record reeks of improper political influence. Hours after the career prosecutor abruptly withdrew, the department moved to dismiss the indictment in a filing signed only by an interim U.S. attorney, a former aide to Attorney General William P. Barr whom Barr had installed in the position months before.
The department now says it cannot prove its case. But Flynn had already admitted his guilt to lying to the FBI, and the court had accepted his plea. The purported reasons for the dismissal clash not only with the department’s previous arguments in Flynn’s case — where it assured the court of an important federal interest in punishing Flynn’s dishonesty, an interest it now dismisses as insubstantial — but also with arguments it has routinely made for years in similar cases not involving defendants close to the president. And all of this followed a similarly troubling reversal, also preceded by the withdrawal of career prosecutors, in the sentencing of Roger Stone.
The Washington Post played a role in Flynn’s prosecution when columnist David Ignatius reported in January 2017 that Flynn, as incoming National Security Advisor, had spoken to the Russian ambassador. (The leak of Flynn’s name was likely a felony.)
Flynn was later accused of lying about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to Vice President Mike Pence and to the FBI. The DOJ now says that those lies were not “material” because Flynn was not under investigation.
Both Gleeson and Sullivan were appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton.