The retired judge selected to challenge the dismissal of charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn argued in an opinion piece that the entire case "reeks of improper political influence."
John Gleeson, who served on the federal bench for more than 21 years before retiring in 2016, co-wrote the article for The Washington Post with two other lawyers in private practice that revealed their views on the Flynn case days after the Department of Justice moved to dismiss the charges against the retired Army lieutenant general. Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI.
"Prosecutors deserve a 'presumption of regularity' — the benefit of the doubt that they are acting honestly and following the rules. But when the facts suggest they have abused their power, that presumption fades," Gleeson wrote, along with his colleague at Debevoise & Plimpton, David O'Neil, and fellow lawyer Marshall Miller.
"If prosecutors attempt to dismiss a well-founded prosecution for impermissible or corrupt reasons, the people would be ill-served if a court blindly approved their dismissal request.
"There has been nothing regular about the department's effort to dismiss the Flynn case. The record reeks of improper political influence."
The jurist in the Flynn case, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, appointed Gleeson to argue against the DOJ's request to dismiss the charges. In doing so, Sullivan also asked Gleeson to determine whether the court should hold Flynn in contempt for perjury.
Flynn's sentencing has been delayed several times since his guilty plea in December 2017. He hired a new lawyer, Sidney Powell, in January, who pursued a bid to withdraw Flynn's plea and have the DOJ drop the case.
In their opinion piece, Gleeson, O'Neil, and Miller pointed out that Flynn admitted to lying to FBI agents regarding conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in the months before President Donald Trump took office. Flynn served in the White House for 24 days before he was fired when the allegations of lying surfaced.
"The department now says it cannot prove its case. But Flynn had already admitted his guilt to lying to the FBI, and the court had accepted his plea," they wrote. "The purported reasons for the dismissal clash not only with the department's previous arguments in Flynn's case — where it assured the court of an important federal interest in punishing Flynn's dishonesty, an interest it now dismisses as insubstantial — but also with arguments it has routinely made for years in similar cases not involving defendants close to the president.
"And all of this followed a similarly troubling reversal, also preceded by the withdrawal of career prosecutors, in the sentencing of Roger Stone."
They added, "Courts often inquire as to the reasons for a government motion to dismiss, but this is the rare case that requires extra scrutiny, to ensure that, in the Supreme Court's words, 'the waters of justice are not polluted.'"
Gleeson was once an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York and prosecuted cases involving mafia figures, including John Gotti. He later served as a district judge there from 1994 to 2016. O'Neil and Miller also served in the DOJ.
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