FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn passes by members of the media as he departs after his sentencing was delayed at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., December 18, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than 1,100 former U.S. federal prosecutors on Wednesday blasted the attempt by Republican President Donald Trump’s Justice Department to dismiss a charge against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying the move puts Trump’s personal interests ahead of the public good.
The criticism came in a legal brief the nonprofit The Protect Democracy Project plans to file in federal court in Washington. They accused Attorney General William Barr of abusing his oath of office by asking to dismiss the criminal charge against Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI.
The group included former Acting Attorney General Stuart Gerson – who served in that role under Democratic then-President Bill Clinton, and former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer, who served under Republican then-President George H.W. Bush – marks the latest development in an escalating drama over whether U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan will grant the department’s bombshell request to drop the case.
“The government’s request in this case does not appear to advance the interests of justice or the public, nor does it appear to be free of impermissible and unlawful taint,” they wrote in a prepared filing seen by Reuters, adding that the request “appears to serve President Trump’s personal political interests, rather than the interests of the public.”
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who was briefly Trump’s national security adviser, pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about interactions with Russia’s U.S. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the weeks before Trump took office.
After agreeing to cooperate, Flynn switched lawyers and tactics, arguing the FBI tricked him and asked that his plea agreement be dismissed.
Sullivan has made it clear he is not willing to simply rubber-stamp the request.
He appointed retired Judge John Gleeson to present arguments on whether Flynn should face an additional criminal contempt charge for perjury.
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis