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Judge at center of Michael Flynn case hires high-profile attorney to defend himself

Sullivan refused the DOJ's request to drop Flynn's charges

Getty Images/The Washington Post / Contributor

United States District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who refused to immediately drop the charges against Michael Flynn at the request of the Justice Department, has now hired a high-profile attorney.

Sullivan has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks for making several unusual decisions in the Flynn case.

First, after refusing the Justice Department's request, Sullivan invited outside groups to file amicus curiae, or "friend of the court," briefs. This was unusual because such petitions are typically only allowed in appellate courts and civil cases — not criminal cases.

Second, Sullivan tapped retired federal judge John Gleeson to both argue against the Justice Department and examine whether Flynn committed perjury for pleading guilty to lying to FBI agents.

In response, Flynn's attorneys formally petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to force Sullivan to comply with the Justice Department's request. On Thursday, the appellate court gave Sullivan just 10 days to justify his actions.

To defend himself, Sullivan has retained Beth Wilkinson, according to the Washington Post. She will be tasked with helping formulate Sullivan's defense.

More from the Post:

Wilkinson, a go-to advocate for prominent officials snared in major Washington investigations and high-stakes legal battles, now joins the fray. Wilkinson represented Brett M. Kavanaugh when he was a Supreme Court Justice nominee and battling accusations he had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were both teens. Her firm also represented the lawyer and longtime confidant of Hillary Clinton amid an investigation into whether Clinton, then secretary of state, had mishandled classified information while trying to avoid using government emails.

Wilkinson is expected to file a brief within the week notifying the court that she is representing Sullivan.

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