April 11, 2021

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Judge moves ahead with case against ex-Trump aide

Michael Flynn, former U.S. national security adviser, exits federal court in Washington, D.C., on Monday, June 24, 2019.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A federal judge is moving forward with former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s criminal case after an appeals court rejected the effort from President Donald Trump‘s onetime aide to have the case quickly dismissed.

Judge Emmet Sullivan on Tuesday ordered lawyers for Flynn, the Department of Justice and a court-appointed lawyer to file a joint status report later this month outlining their suggestions for the next steps in the case.

Those steps must include a proposal for holding oral arguments on the Justice Department’s request to drop its prosecution of Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 of lying to FBI agents before seeking to withdraw that plea early this year.

The judge’s order in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., came a day after a federal appeals court overwhelmingly rejected Flynn’s bid to force Sullivan to quickly grant the DOJ’s request to dismiss its case.

The Justice Department in May had moved to drop the prosecution, following the release of previously undisclosed documents in the case that had also led Flynn’s legal team to seek a withdrawal of his guilty plea.

But rather than grant the motion, Sullivan appointed retired federal judge John Gleeson to make arguments against dismissal, and allowed outside parties to weigh in on the matter. Flynn’s lawyers blasted that appointment – and Gleeson’s argument that the DOJ committed a “gross abuse” of power in seeking to drop its case – and accused Sullivan of bias.

Before Sullivan had ruled on the bid to dismiss, Flynn’s lawyers petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for a “writ of mandamus,” which would force the lower-court judge to grant the motion to drop the case. The lawyers also asked the appeals court to assign any additional proceedings in Flynn’s case to another judge.

Earlier this summer, a three-judge appeals panel ruled in Flynn’s favor, saying the case had to be dismissed.

But Sullivan then asked that the entire line-up of judges on the appeals court rehear the case.

In an 8-2 ruling on Monday, that court found that none of the judge’s actions came close to meeting the “very high standard” of “conduct . . . so extreme as to display clear inability to render fair judgment.”

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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