S. E. Williams
Contributor

Speaking Truth to Power—Ex-Judge Excoriates DOJ

Jun 13, 2020 | Government

It took courage and a strong commitment to justice for Judge Emmet Sullivan, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, not to acquiesce to the demands of a purportedly lawless administration to dismiss criminal charges against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Those who have come to respect Sullivan’s judicial acumen in the oversight of Flynn’s case were not surprised by his tenacious approach to resistance. In 2018, Sullivan, who happens to be African-American, shocked many in the country when he did not hide his assessment of Michael Flynn’s admitted actions in this case when he proclaimed to Flynn in court, “I can’t hide my disgust, my disdain [for your actions].”

Sullivan’s judicial actions in the Age of Trump were initially reported by the Black Voice News in December 2018.

Flynn was swept up in the Robert Mueller investigation into the 2016 National Elections and the probability of Trump and members of his campaign were complicit in the interference.

Flynn made a plea deal, and in the process admitted he willfully and knowingly made false statements to the FBI during the Mueller investigation.

In January, before Flynn could be sentenced however, possibly emboldened by the U.S. Senate’s failure to convict Trump even though he was impeached by the House of Representatives, Flynn subsequently sought to withdraw his guilty plea with claims the prosecutors in his case had acted in bad faith.  

Earlier this year the U.S. Justice Department, under the stewardship of Attorney General William Barr, filed a motion to dismiss all charges against Flynn despite Flynn’s clear confession of wrongdoings in relation to the charges filed against him.

In mid-May Sullivan took, what at the time was described as an extraordinary step to appoint retired Federal Judge John Gleeson to evaluate whether Flynn should face charges of contempt for perjury since Flynn has petitioned to withdraw his guilty plea; and to assess the constitutionality of the DOJ’s move to dismiss the charges against him.  

Although the prosecutors had initially considered no jail time for Flynn that proposition soured when Flynn hired new lawyers who subsequently accused the government of misconduct in the case.

This was followed last month with an unusual action by the Justice Department when at the direction of Attorney General William Barr, the agency filed a motion to dismiss the case. It offered as justification for this action two factors. Firstly, they claimed the FBI did not have enough evidence to question him in the first place and secondly, Flynn’s statements were immaterial to the broader Mueller investigation. Many cried fowl in response to this action by DOJ.

Members of the general public were not the only ones who questioned Barr’s motives in dismissing the case and suspected he was acting at the direction of the White House; or on his own as a means of soliciting favor with the White House. In either case, it was an audacious and extraordinary action, subsequently met with an audacious and extraordinary reaction by Judge Sullivan.

Sullivan quickly appointed former federal judge and current partner with Debevoise & Plimpton, John Gleeson to provide an outside assessment of the Justice Department’s decision to dismiss the case.

Wednesday morning, June 10, 2020, Gleeson delivered his assessment of Barr’s order to dismiss declaring, “The government’s [apparent] grounds for seeking dismissal are conclusively disproved by its own briefs filed earlier in this very proceeding.”

Continuing, he brought attention to how, “They contradict and ignore this Court’s prior orders, which constitute law of the case.”

In addressing DOJ’s argument for dismissal, he claimed, “They are riddled with inexplicable and elementary errors of law and fact,” according to a Huffington Post report.

Also, according to Gleeson, the DOJ’s position in this case departs from positions the government has held in other cases.

Calling Barr’s move to dismiss the case an “abuse of power” he warned, “[The government has] engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the president.”    

Gleeson concluded, “It [DOJ] has treated the case like no other, and in doing so has undermined the public’s confidence in the rule of law,” and recommended Flynn be sentenced for having twice pled guilty to the charges levied against him.

Gleeson’s feedback will be weighed in the equation by Judge Sullivan as he contemplates whether to dismiss the charges against Flynn as requested by the DOJ.  

 

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