US judge cites 'gross abuse of prosecutorial power' in Flynn case

John Gleeson: 'The government has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the president.'

    Retired General Michael Flynn, left, introduces then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally, in Bedford, New Hampshire [File: John Locher/AP Photo]
    Retired General Michael Flynn, left, introduces then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally, in Bedford, New Hampshire [File: John Locher/AP Photo]

    A retired judge on Wednesday urged a federal court in Washington, DC not to allow the Justice Department to dismiss its criminal case against President Donald Trump's former adviser, Michael Flynn, citing evidence of "gross abuse of prosecutorial power".

    The US district judge hearing the case, Emmet Sullivan, last month tapped John Gleeson to serve as a "friend of the court" after the Justice Department abruptly asked the court to dismiss the criminal charge against Flynn, a former national security adviser.

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    Gleeson was appointed by Sullivan in a special role to weigh in on the case, but it will ultimately be up to Sullivan and potentially an appeals court whether to accept the Justice Department's motion to drop the case.

    The stunning move by the Justice Department followed a pressure campaign by Trump and his conservative allies and came even though Flynn had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the former Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. Gleeson was tasked with arguing against the government's motion, and Sullivan also asked him to make a recommendation on whether to hold Flynn in contempt for perjury.

    "The government has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the president. The facts of this case overcome the presumption of regularity," Gleeson wrote, noting that Sullivan should proceed with sentencing Flynn.

    Flynn was one of several former Trump aides charged under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation that detailed Moscow's interference in the 2016 US presidential election. He was Trump's national security adviser briefly in early 2017.

    Gleeson also said there was "ample evidence in the record that Flynn committed perjury", or lying under oath.

    But he recommended that Sullivan take Flynn's perjury into account when sentencing him for lying to the FBI, rather than commencing a follow-on prosecution.

    SOURCE: News agencies