A federal appeals court sided with former White House advisor Michael Flynn Wednesday, honoring a Department of Justice request and ordering a lower court to dismiss charges that Flynn deliberately lied to federal agents.
The decision likely brings a swift end to allegations that former Trump presidential campaign officials and Trump White House transition team members illegally coordinated with Russian officials to impact the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, per Fox News.
Flynn was charged with perjury for lying to the FBI about conversations he had with a Russian ambassador, in which Flynn suggested the Russians hold off on inking any deals with the Obama administration since the Trump administration was likely to change course on foreign policy. Flynn pleaded guilty to those charges twice and served less than a month in the Trump administration before being fired.
The Department of Justice dropped its case against Flynn back in May after investigators discovered that several members of the FBI may have walked Flynn into a so-called “perjury trap” when the interviewed him during work hours at the White House without giving him the opportunity to have a lawyer present or make clear that they were speaking to Flynn in an official capacity.
The DOJ issued a memo stating that “after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information,” investigators discovered that Flynn’s interview was “untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn.”
The interview, the DOJ concluded, was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis,” leaving Flynn exposed to charges.
After a back-and-forth with Federal judge Emmet Sullivan, who refused to dismiss the case outright without hearings on the matter, Flynn’s lawyers ultimately appealed the charges to a Federal appeals court and Wednesday, in 2-1 decision, the appeals court ordered Flynn’s charges dropped completely.
“Wednesday’s court order was direct,” Fox News reports, “ordering ‘that Flynn’s petition for a writ of mandamus be granted in part; the District Court is directed to grant the government’s … motion to dismiss; and the District Court’s order appointing an amicus is hereby vacated as moot, in accordance with the opinion of the court filed herein this date.'”
“This is not the unusual case where a more searching inquiry is justified,” the lead judge wrote.
”In this case, the district court’s actions will result in specific harms to the exercise of the Executive Branch’s exclusive prosecutorial power,” the decision reads. “The contemplated proceedings would likely require the Executive to reveal the internal deliberative process behind its exercise of prosecutorial discretion, interfering with the Article II charging authority.”
One judge did dissent from the decision, leaving the case open for further appeals.
President Donald Trump, who has long seen the Flynn case as emblematic of the “witch hunt” against members of his administration by political enemies, seemed thrilled by the news, tweeting, “Great! Appeals Court Upholds Justice Departments Request To Drop Criminal Case Against General Michael Flynn!”
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