The federal judge overseeing the sentencing of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — who refused to dismiss Flynn’s guilty plea after the Department of Justice asked him to drop the case — is going to tell it to the judge himself.
US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan is preparing to file a defense of his actions by Monday to his higher-ups on the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Bloomberg News reported.
But the Friday release of declassified transcripts of the phone calls at the heart of the case could complicate Sullivan’s argument.
Flynn, President Trump’s National Security Adviser in the early weeks of his administration, was pushed out of his job after details of a phone call between him and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were leaked to the media.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the call in 2017, after Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigated it as part of his probe of alleged Russian collusion with Trump’s presidential campaign.
But he has asked for the plea to be withdrawn — and Attorney General Bill Barr moved to drop the case entirely, saying that the FBI’s investigation into Flynn was unjustified in the first place.
On Friday, when contents of the phone calls were released, the general’s backers said they proved Flynn’s account — and showed that the calls were aboveboard.
“All of the innuendo about Lt. General Flynn this whole time was totally bunk … and the FBI knew it,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
But Sullivan has hired a high-powered Washington, D.C. defense attorney to help him keep the case against Flynn alive.
Senate hearings on the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation start on Wednesday, with testimony from former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.