Appeals Court Says Judge Must Drop Case Against Michael Flynn

( Michael Flynn got some great news Wednesday, as a federal appeals court said a lower court judge needs to dismiss the case against him.

The three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals said the trial judge, Emmet Sullivan, doesn’t have enough of a reason to question the Department of Justice’s prosecution decisions in the Flynn case. The panel also ruled Sullivan’s call for a third-party attorney to weigh in on the case was no longer needed.

In the majority opinion, Judge Neomi Rao — who was appointed by President Donald Trump — wrote that Sullivan “fails to justify the district court’s unprecedented intrusions on individual liberty and the Executive’s charging authority.”

Flynn, the former national security adviser for Trump, twice pleaded guilty of charges of lying to the FBI regarding conversations he allegedly had with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador, during Trump’s presidential transition period. Despite this, Flynn recently wanted to change his plea to innocent.

Flynn’s new legal team jumped on an opportunity in late April when a top FBI official’s hand-written note became public. In it, the agent wrote that agents could “get him [Flynn] to lie” or “get him fired.”

When that came to light, Trump himself said Flynn should be “exonerated,” with the charges being dropped. If that didn’t happen, the president said he would also consider a full pardon for Flynn.

In the meantime, the Department of Justice moved to fully dismiss the charges against Flynn once that note came to light. Attorney General William Barr said at the time that the charges, which came out of the larger Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, weren’t appropriate nor material to the “underlying counterintelligence investigation.”

In its motion to dismiss the charges, the DOJ also wrote that the FBI was going to close the investigation into Flynn weeks before they conducted their interviews with him. They said it was because they found no evidence that Flynn committed a crime when he talked to the Russian ambassador.

Sullivan didn’t immediately act upon the DOJ request, though, asking to review the decision instead. The retired judge that Sullivan appointed to review the decision, John Gleeson, didn’t agree with the DOJ’s position.

In fact, Gleeson said the Department of Justice’s request to dismiss charges was a “gross abuse” of prosecutorial power. He also accessed the federal government of maneuvering to specifically benefit Flynn, who was an ally of Trump’s.

The three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals was split in their decision, with Karen Henderson joining with Rao and Robert Wilkins disagreeing.

Following the ruling, Trump tweeted:

“Great! Appeals Court Upholds Justice Departments Request To Drop Criminal Case Against General Michael Flynn!”

Despite the ruling on Wednesday, it’s still possible the case could be appealed again, but it would need to be done by Sullivan himself. If he doesn’t appeal, though, the entire ordeal for Flynn will be over.