Flynn case to be test of independent judiciary (Barbara McQuade)
This News Journal (USA Today) column praises the decision of US District Judge Emmett Sullivan to question the Department of Justice request to dismiss the charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for allegedly lying to FBI investigators.
True, such motions are granted routinely in most cases, says the writer, but “this is not the first time Barr has taken action to unwind” the work of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and the “fiercely independent” judge is going to insist on an independent review of “the DOJ turnaround” including the possibility that Flynn should be held in contempt of court for perjury as a result of changing his previous guilty plea. To this end, Sullivan has appointed a retired judge to participate in the proceedings and indicated plans to solicit amicus briefs from non-parties. Bottom line, “we can be grateful for an independent judge who will not allow himself to be fooled by smoke and mirrors.”
Based on facts of the Flynn case that have emerged over time, this decision seems seriously misguided. The Flynn investigation was begun without a proper factual basis – Flynn was told that he wasn't a target and wouldn't need a lawyer - the original form 302 (recap of what Flynn said in the interview) seems to be missing – revised versions of the form 302 were rewritten by non-participants, which is grossly improper – Flynn was pressured into pleading guilty by threats to prosecute his son for unrelated matters – DOJ prosecutors repeatedly stonewalled requests from Flynn’s counsel for exculpatory evidence, resulting in egregious Brady violations. The DOJ decision to drop the Flynn case was long overdue, and Judge Sullivan should have commended it rather than reacting as he did. In sum, this is an example of judicial bias versus independence.