A former federal judge tasked with reviewing a criminal case against former U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn accused the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday of shielding an ally of President Donald Trump from a jail sentence, Politico reported.
John Gleeson charged the DOJ of “contradicting its own arguments and precedents” to justify dropping the case against Flynn, the U.S. political media outlet quoted Gleeson as writing in an 82-page excoriation.
“The Government has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President,” Gleeson wrote.
Flynn served as National Security Advisor before his forced resignation 22 days after Trump’s presidential inauguration, making the retired general’s tenure the shortest in the history of the position.
Flynn was investigated by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller – who headed a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election – for failing to register as a foreign lobbyist of Turkey and conspiring to kidnap self-exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen from his Pennsylvania home. Flynn denied the plot.
While serving as an adviser to then president-elect Trump in 2016, Flynn penned an op-ed that lambasted Gülen as “Turkey’s Osama Bin Laden” and urged support for Ankara’s attempts to have the person it blames for the 2016 failed coup attempt extradited from the United States.
In December 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to providing false statements to the FBI regarding conversations with Russia’s ambassador, and agreed to fully cooperate with the Mueller investigation.
Flynn attempted to withdraw his plea in 2019 when his new defence team filed a motion in contempt, accusing the FBI of entrapping their client by withholding material that benefited the case to cause him to plead guilty.
In February, Attorney General William Barr declared that there would be a review of Flynn’s case, leading the DOJ to file a Motion to Dismiss on May 7 to withdraw the criminal charges against the former Trump aide.
Gleeson on Wednesday described Barr’s handling of Flynn’s case an “irregular” effort that U.S. courts would “scoff” at were the subject anyone other than an ally of Trump.
“The facts surrounding the filing of the Government’s motion constitute clear evidence of gross prosecutorial abuse,” he wrote.
“They reveal an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump.”
The former Manhattan federal court judge recommended that U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, the judge overseeing Flynn’s case who appointed Gleeson to present arguments in opposition of the Motion to Dismiss, should proceed to sentence the former national security adviser.
Gleeson’s recommendation from comes two days before a federal appeals court panel weighs a request from Flynn’s defence team to order Sullivan to drop the pending false-statement case.
Ekim Alptekin, a former client of Flynn, sought a reprieve last week after being indicted on charges of illegal foreign lobbying.
Alptekin, the former chairman of the Turkish-U.S. Business Council, hired Flynn’s firm, Flynn Intel Group, in August 2016 to mount a public pressure campaign against Gülen.
Alptekin has not faced trial. He remains overseas – likely in Turkey – and has not been extradited.