former national security adviser

Appeals court rejects Flynn's effort to dismiss charges

Michael Flynn had pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI


A federal appeals court rejected Michael Flynn's effort to force a judge to immediately dismiss the charges against him, overturning an earlier decision that would have allowed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop its case against the former national security adviser.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 8-2 against Flynn's petition for it to step in and force a district judge to grant the Justice Department's motion to drop charges without holding a hearing on the issue.

The appeals court had agreed to rehear the case after a three-judge panel ordered the district court in June to dismiss the charges.

The circuit court also denied Flynn's argument that the judge overseeing his case be forced to recuse himself. The former three-star general's legal team had argued that Judge Emmet Sullivan acted improperly by appointing outside counsel to argue against the DOJ's sudden decision to drop its case and by asking the full circuit court to revisit the earlier decision by a three-judge panel.

Flynn's attorney did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

Unless Flynn's lawyers appeal to the Supreme Court, Sullivan, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Clinton, will be able to move forward with a hearing about the DOJ's unusual reversal in the case, before deciding whether to allow the Trump administration to withdraw its charges against the president's former close aide.

The majority in Monday's decision said that Flynn had failed to show that the appeals court needed to step in and force Sullivan's hand in the matter, but noted that President Trump's former adviser could easily appeal any ruling the judge issues.

An attorney representing Sullivan declined to comment.

Flynn had pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In the past year, however, he backed out of the plea agreement, hired a firebrand conservative lawyer and disavowed his guilty plea, moving to fight the charges instead.

Before he could proceed with changing his plea, the DOJ decided in May to move to drop its case, saying it no longer had faith in the FBI investigation that led to Flynn's interrogation in early 2017.

Sullivan responded by appointing the outside counsel to present a counter-argument and setting a briefing schedule for the parties to weigh in on how he should rule.

Before the process could move forward, Flynn petitioned the D.C. Circuit to intervene and preemptively force Sullivan to dismiss the charges, arguing that the judge was infringing on the DOJ's sole authority to prosecute criminal cases.

A panel of three circuit court judges ruled 2-1 to grant Flynn's petition. The two judges comprising the panel majority, who were both appointed by Republican presidents, were the only dissenters from Monday's decision by the full court.

Judge Neomi Rao, who was appointed by Trump, wrote in her dissent that Sullivan's effort to hold arguments on the DOJ's move is an unconstitutional check on the executive branch's prosecution powers.

"By allowing the district court to scrutinize 'the reasoning and motives' of the Department of Justice, the majority ducks our obligation to correct judicial usurpations of executive power and leaves Flynn to twist in the wind while the district court pursues a prosecution without a prosecutor," Rao wrote.

Read more

He was prepared to die and leave four kids behind: ‘I was at peace with that knowledge’

The FBI says that Brian Mock went to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 unsure of what he would face, but as he shared on social media just days later, he was prepared to fully commit to whatever came his way — even death. “I went to the Capitol not knowing what to expect but said goodbye to my 4 children, not sure if I was going to come home,” Mock wrote on Facebook on Jan. 8, according to federal documents charging Mock with multiple crimes. “I was at peace with that knowledge.” Mock, 43, is one of the latest people to be arrested for crimes related to the siege on the U.S. Capitol, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

Watchdog investigates seizure of Democrats’ phone data

The US justice department’s internal watchdog launched an investigation on Friday after revelations that former president Donald Trump’s administration secretly seized phone data from at least two House Democrats as part of an aggressive leaks inquiry related to the Russia investigation into Trump’s conduct.

Intelligence failures left police officers exposed to a violent mob of Trump supporters

The deadly insurrection at the US Capitol was “planned in plain sight” but intelligence failures left police officers exposed to a violent mob of Trump supporters, a Senate investigation has found. The Capitol police intelligence division had been gathering online data since December about plots to storm the building on 6 January, including messages such as: “Bring guns. It’s now or never.” But a combination of bad communications, poor planning, faulty equipment and lack of leadership meant the warnings went unheeded, allowing the insurrectionists to overrun the Capitol and disrupt certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. Five people died.

Prosecutors investigating whether Ukrainians meddled in 2020 election

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have been investigating whether several Ukrainian officials helped orchestrate a wide-ranging plan to meddle in the 2020 presidential campaign, including using Rudolph W. Giuliani to spread their misleading claims about President Biden and tilt the election in Donald J. Trump’s favor, according to people with knowledge of the matter.