On Tuesday, the lawyer of Michael Flynn, former national security adviser for the administration of Republican President Donald Trump, told a judge that he personally briefed Trump on Flynn’s case over past few weeks.
However, attorneys seeking to dismiss charges against Flynn claim that corruption hasn’t played a role in the U.S. Justice Department deciding to drop its charges against Flynn, according to The Washington Post.
Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, admitted briefing Trump while speaking to U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan during a hearing on whether the Justice Department should be allowed to dismiss the prosecution’s case against Flynn.
In December 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about a conversation he had in late 2016 with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn had allegedly urged the Russian government not to retaliate against the U.S. after President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential elections.
Powell said that she had only spoken with Trump to give him an update on the case and that she instructed the president not to pardon Flynn. She also claimed she hadn’t asked Trump for Attorney General William P. Barr’s intervention nor for new attorneys to be assigned to Flynn’s case.
During the hearing, Kenneth C. Kohl, a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office, told Judge Sullivan that the Justice Department’s decision in May to pursue a dismissal of Flynn’s charges weren’t driven by “a corrupt political motive.”
The Justice Department said it decided against charging Flynn after concluding that the FBI’s questioning of him was “unjustified by the counterintelligence investigation into [him]” and immaterial to any crime, The Washington Post reported.
However, Sullivan said neither of those claims are defenses against the charges that Flynn pleaded guilty to. In response, Justice Department lawyer Hashim Mooppan told Sullivan that the court shouldn’t “second guess the executive branch’s authoritative position” on Flynn’s actions.
Flynn himself had accused prosecutors and his previous defense attorneys of “coercing” him to plead guilty and hiding instances of FBI misconduct. Sullivan dismissed Flynn’s claims since Flynn had already admitted guilt in sworn statements.
Sullivan has said that it isn’t his job merely to “rubber stamp” the Justice Department’s attempt to dismiss Flynn’s charges, and that the judiciary is obligated to assess the executive branches’ motives and their legality.
In May, Sullivan slowed down attempts by DOJ officials to drop the case against Flynn by pledging to schedule a period for soliciting amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) briefs from outside parties who wish to comment on the federal government’s desire to dismiss its charges against Flynn, according to Politico.
In response, more than 1,100 former prosecutors wrote briefs asserting that the Justice Department had distorted facts in Flynn’s case and effectively bent to serve Trump’s wishes.
Newsweek contacted Powell for comment.
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