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Judge Emmet Sullivan has been ordered to explain himself
The federal judge presiding over the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn has been ordered by an appeals court to justify his reasoning for refusing to dismiss the case, weeks after the Department of Justice asked that all charges against the retired lieutenant general be dropped.
What are the details?
A panel of three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order on Thursday, demanding that U.S. Circuit Judge Emmet Sullivan file a response within ten days addressing Flynn's petition asking the higher court to force Sullivan to honor the government's request and drop the case.
The appeals court also offered the Department of Justice the same 10-day period to respond.
Politico reported that "the Appeals Court order is the latest twist in a remarkable series of events that have thrown the Flynn case into turmoil on the eve of his sentencing for pleading guilty to lying to the FBI."
Last week, Judge Sullivan made an unusual move, himself. After refusing to immediately dismiss the case against Flynn, he issued an order naming a retired judge to argue against the DOJ's request for dismissal, and to "address whether the Court should issue an Order to Show Cause why Mr. Flynn should not be held in criminal contempt for perjury."
In response, Flynn's attorney's took the issue over Sullivan's head to the D.C. Appeals Court, asking them to force Sullivan's hand and to "reassign the case to another district judge as to any further proceedings."
Following the order handed down to Sullivan by D.C. Circuit Judges Karen LeCraft Henderson, Robert Wilkins, and Neomi Rao, Flynn's lead attorney, Sidney Powell, told The Washington Post, "Obviously the court is taking the issue very seriously, as it should."
What's the background?
Flynn was prosecuted as a result of the Mueller investigation that failed to find any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The former national security adviser for President Donald Trump eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but later retracted his guilty plea after obtaining new counsel.
The retired lieutenant general says he knew he was innocent all along, but agreed to plead guilty after authorities threatened to also prosecute his son. Recently released documents indicate Flynn was targeted by FBI agents who privately expressed their frustration over President Trump being elected.
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