Ex-Trump aide Flynn asks appeals court to toss criminal charges


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Tuesday asked a U.S. appeals court to force a judge to dismiss the criminal charges against him as requested by the Justice Department.

The department’s May 7 reversal in a case in which Flynn previously pleaded guilty drew accusations from Democrats and retired career prosecutors that Attorney General William Barr was politicizing the U.S. criminal justice system to benefit Trump’s friends and associates in criminal cases.

In an emergency petition, Flynn’s lawyers asked that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit order District Judge Emmet Sullivan to grant the department’s request to dismiss the case. Sullivan on May 13 signaled reluctance to drop the charges, appointing a retired judge to provide advice on whether Flynn should actually face an additional criminal contempt charge for perjury.

Flynn, who also served as a Trump campaign adviser in 2016, pleaded guilty in 2017 to charges of lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador in Washington, but later sought to withdraw his plea and accused the FBI of tricking him. The Justice Department’s decision to ask the judge to drop the charges followed public pressure from Trump and the Republican president’s political allies.

Flynn’s petition also argued that, if there are further proceedings, the case should be assigned to another judge because Sullivan has shown bias against the defendant.

Sullivan’s conduct “bespeaks a judge who is not only biased against Petitioner, but also revels in the notoriety he has created by failing to take the simple step of granting a motion he has no authority to deny,” the petition stated.

Sullivan at a 2018 hearing expressed “disgust” and “disdain” toward Flynn’s criminal offense, saying: “Arguably, you sold your country out.”

Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Will Dunham