US District Judge Emmet Sullivan is asking appeals court judges to reconsider an order that he dismiss Michael Flynn’s prosecution.
Sullivan’s lawyers on Thursday argued in an appeal that a 2-1 ruling by a judicial panel last month ordering him to drop the case was a “dramatic break from precedent that threatens the orderly administration of justice.”
Sullivan is asking for the full US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to review the panel’s decision.
Democrats allege that the Justice Department is only seeking to drop the prosecution to please President Trump, who often bemoaned Flynn’s treatment by the FBI.
Flynn, who briefly served as Trump’s White House national security adviser, was fired in February 2017 and then pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about discussing sanctions and a UN vote in December 2016 with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn says he did not intentionally lie and the Justice Department said in May it would drop the case, finding FBI agents including Peter Strzok had no valid basis to interview Flynn days into Trump’s presidency.
The Justice Department said it wanted to drop the case because of investigative misconduct.
Transcripts of the calls between Flynn and Kislyak were released in late May, showing Flynn did discuss sanctions and the UN vote.
Republicans said the transcripts show “there was nothing improper” about the substance of the calls, which Flynn made with the knowledge of other Trump transition officials.
In pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, Flynn agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which ultimately found no evidence that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.
Flynn also avoided charges for admittedly working as an unregistered agent of Turkey and making false statements to the Justice Department about that work. Flynn business partner Bijan Rafiekian was convicted last year on those charges and faced up to 15 years in prison before his conviction was overturned. The Justice Department is moving to retry Rafiekian.
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