Trump aide’s lawyers seek to force federal judge off case

EX-NSA adviser Michael Flynn’s lawyers accuse US District Court judge of bias and asked that the case be reassigned.

Lawyers for President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Tuesday asked a United States appeals court to force a judge to dismiss the criminal charges against him as requested by the Justice Department.

In an emergency petition, Flynn’s lawyers asked that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit order District Judge Emmet Sullivan to grant the department’s request to dismiss the case. Sullivan on May 13 signalled reluctance to drop the charges, appointing a retired judge to provide advice on whether Flynn should actually face an additional criminal contempt charge for perjury.

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Flynn, who also served as a Trump campaign adviser in 2016, pleaded guilty in 2017 to charges of lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador in Washington, DC, but later sought to withdraw his plea and accused the FBI of tricking him. The Justice Department’s decision to ask the judge to drop the charges followed public pressure from Trump and the Republican president’s political allies.

Flynn’s petition also argues that, if there are further proceedings, the case should be assigned to another judge because Sullivan has shown bias against the defendant.

“An innocent man has been the target of a vendetta by politically motivated officials at the highest level of the FBI,” Flynn’s lawyers wrote in the new filing.

“The egregious Government misconduct, and the three-year abuse of General Flynn and his family, cry out for ending this ordeal immediately and permanently. The district judge’s orders reveal his plan to continue the case indefinitely, rubbing salt in General Flynn’s open wound from the Government’s misconduct and threatening him with criminal contempt.”

Sullivan at a 2018 hearing expressed “disgust” and “disdain” towards Flynn’s criminal offence, saying: “Arguably, you sold your country out.”

The department’s May 7 reversal in a case in which Flynn previously pleaded guilty drew accusations from Democrats and retired career prosecutors that Attorney General William Barr was politicising the US criminal justice system to benefit Trump’s friends and associates in criminal cases.

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