In another strange turn of events, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has invited Michael Flynn’s former defense counsel to appear as interested parties in their former clients ongoing case. Sullivan, who did not agree to drop the charges against Flynn as requested by the Department of Justice, did not specify the purpose for inviting the former lawyers to appear in court.
John Hall electronically filed the notice on Thursday, as the legal representative for Covington and Burling, Flynn’s former defense counsel.
Sidney Powell, Flynn’s defense counsel, didn’t comment on Sullivan’s invitation to Covington and Burling but she noted in previous filings reported on this news site that the previous counsel provided her client ineffectual representation and unrepresented him in his guilty plea, which was in violation of his 6th Amendment rights.
This turn of events has been just one in a series of bizarre decisions unleashed on Flynn and his defense team by Sullivan. Critics of Sullivan’s strange behavior have accused the judge of acting as a prosecutor and crossing the line of his judicial mandate.
“Since Sullivan appears to be so invested in trying to force the government to prosecute Flynn, he should step off the bench and apply for a job as an AUSA,” said Jenna Ellis, a constitutional lawyer and Senior legal advisor to the Trump 2020 campaign. “He clearly wants to be a prosecutor, not a judge, so he’s in the wrong branch of government.”
Since Sullivan appears to be so invested in trying to force the government to prosecute Flynn, he should step off the bench and apply for a job as an AUSA.
He clearly wants to be a prosecutor, not a judge, so he’s in the wrong branch of government. https://t.co/BlwHvbm5Dp
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) May 14, 2020
Ellis’ comments echo that of many Republican lawmakers and critics of Sullivan’s recent behavior in the Flynn case.
Moreover, the culmination of evidence that has exposed the previous administrations targeting of Flynn is reason enough for Sullivan to drop the case against Flynn as requested by the DOJ, GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-LA, told this reporter Thursday on The Sara Carter Show.
“It’s unbelievable to watch what this judge is doing and you know he ought to just take the robe off and go become a prosecutor because he’s acting like a biased prosecutor,” said Scalise, who described the FBI’s role in alleged perjury trap against Flynn and then how prosecutors in Robert Mueller’s special counsel threatened to go after Flynn’s family to coerce a guilty plea from the retired general. “(Sullivan) clearly does have a bias…Why Sullivan wants to drag this out is purely political and it’s only going to tarnish his name and reputation.”
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, agreed with Scalise and asked on The Sara Carter Show Thursday “when did (Sullivan) become a prosecutor…his decision is a really unusual step” and doesn’t fit his role as judge. Collins said his actions cross the line and appear politically motivated.
Sullivan has been described in the past as an independent judge but his close ties with former Obama officials have left many skeptical in the case of Flynn. His decision not to drop charges against Flynn as requested by the DOJ and his order this week indicating that he would accept ‘amicus’ submissions in the Flynn case – something he hasn’t done in the past – is indicative of his political bias, critics say.
The ‘amicus’ submission was made by a group calling themselves “Watergate prosecutors,” who are challenging the recent decision by the Justice Department to drop charges against the three star general after a slew of information revealed that Flynn was set up by the FBI and targeted by former Obama Administration officials.
But it didn’t end there. On Wednesday, Sullivan made another unexpected move to appoint a former law firm partner, retired Judge John Gleeson, who is openly anti-Trump to “present arguments in opposition to the government’s motion to dismiss” the charges against Flynn. Fox News recently reported that there are serious concerns over Sullivan’s selection of Gleeson and that he may have been “selected to improperly bolster Sullivan’s efforts to keep the Flynn case alive even though both the government and defendant want it dismissed.”
Lawmakers, who have participated in congressional investigations into the FBI’s handling of the probe into President Donald Trump’s campaign, say Sullivan’s decisions appear to be politically motivated. Moreover, the revelations in recently declassified congressional testimony revealing that no senior Obama official possessed evidence that Flynn or the Trump campaign had ties to Russia, adds to the concern that the system was weaponized to target the administration.
On Wednesday, however, the declassification of a list containing the names of senior Obama officials that requested the unmasking of Flynn added more fuel to the fire that the campaign and administration was being spied on by political opponents. The decision to declassify the information was made by Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, who turned the documents over to Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson at their request.
Congressional members and critics of the actions taken by the FBI against Flynn have said that the mountain of evidence exonerating Flynn supersedes the motions to continue the case by Sullivan.
Interestingly, there are also questions regarding Covington and Burling and Powell’s open criticism of their failure to adequately represent Flynn.
In 2015, Vice News wrote an investigative story suggesting that Covington and Burling, former Attorney General Eric Holder’s law firm, was operating as a ‘shadow justice department’ because of the revolving door of lawyers that served in both capacities.
The Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit research organization, has prepared an interactive map that charts many of the connections between the DOJ and Covington. It includes not only their white-collar defense division, but dozens of other lawyers who have circulated between the firm and the Justice Department.
Some media outlets and commentators have begun referring to Covington as a “shadow Justice Department” — a place for talented lawyers to become familiar with how corporations work before entering public service, and a landing pad for former federal prosecutors transitioning to the private sector.
Maybe we’re seeing those close connections take on a political shape in Flynn’s case with the recent decisions made by Sullivan’s court.
Still, it remains to be seen what the future has in store for Flynn. Powell has told this reporter she is not going to stop fighting for justice and a full exoneration.
In the end President Trump may have to intervene with a full pardon for Flynn, something the president has hinted at in the past.
However, a full exoneration – even if it requires a fight to the Supreme Court – is what should happen if our system of justice is ever going to restore the trust of the American people.