WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sixteen former Watergate prosecutors on Wednesday said U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan should be allowed to review all the facts before deciding whether to grant a Justice Department request to drop the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
In a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the former prosecutors said they feared the Justice Department was not acting in the public interest, and that Sullivan has the power to scrutinize the request in order to ensure that “the waters of justice are not polluted.”
Flynn filed an emergency petition with the federal appeals court on May 21, asking the court to force Sullivan’s hand and toss the case.
The federal appeals court has given Sullivan until June 1 to respond to Flynn’s petition.
Flynn, a former Army lieutenant general who also advised Trump’s presidential campaign, pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s U.S. ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
But after agreeing to cooperate, he changed tactics and hired a new lawyer who sought to get his guilty plea withdrawn amid accusations that the FBI had entrapped Flynn during his January 2017 interview.
Attorney General William Barr on May 7 abruptly sought to have the case against Flynn dropped, acting on the heels of rising pressure from Trump and his allies.
But Sullivan has balked, and instead tasked a retired judge to serve as a “friend of the court” to argue against the Justice Department’s request for dismissal.
The ex-prosecutors said in their Wednesday filing that Flynn hasn’t demonstrated “any clear and indisputable right to relief” by the appellate court. Created in 1973, the Watergate Speacial Prosecution Force was responsible for bringing charges against a variety of top officials during the Nixon administration.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Howard Goller)