Outside counsel says Trump's 'pressure campaign' moved DOJ to drop Flynn charges

A former federal judge tasked with arguing against the Department of Justice's decision to drop charges against Michael Flynn said Friday that the move stemmed from President TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE's efforts to influence the prosecution on behalf of his former national security adviser.

John Gleeson, who was tapped to serve as outside counsel in the case after the Justice Department's surprise move in May to drop the case, submitted a filing arguing that the court should deny the government's effort to dismiss the case.

"In the United States, Presidents do not orchestrate pressure campaigns to get the Justice Department to drop charges against defendants who have pleaded guilty — twice, before two different judges — and whose guilt is obvious," Gleeson wrote in the filing. "And the Justice Department does not seek to dismiss criminal charges on grounds riddled with legal and factual error, then argue that the validity of those grounds cannot even be briefed to the Court that accepted the defendant’s guilty plea."

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"Yet that is exactly what has unfolded here," he added. "There is clear evidence that the Government’s Motion to Dismiss the case against Defendant Michael T. Flynn rests on pure pretext. There is clear evidence that this motion reflects a corrupt and politically motivated favor unworthy of our justice system."

The parties are facing off over whether the charges will be dropped after a federal appeals court rejected Flynn's effort to have his case dismissed outright.

Flynn had pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with a Russian diplomat and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel's investigation. But he has since backed out of the deal and was trying to rescind his guilty plea when the Justice Department made its sudden reversal.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

Government attorneys said that they no longer believed they could prove their case against Flynn, saying that the FBI investigation leading up to his interrogation was flawed and improper.

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Judge Emmet Sullivan, who was appointed to the federal district court in D.C. by former President Clinton, is considering whether to approve the move after successfully challenging Flynn's petition to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sidney Powell, Flynn's attorney, responded to Gleeson's filing on Twitter, insisting that her client is innocent.

"Gleeson's filing was predictable and meaningless. It's the irrelevant and wrong smear he intended it to be — ignoring the mountain of exculpatory evidence Mr. Jensen unearthed and produced that shows the investigation and prosecution of General Flynn was corrupt from its inception," she wrote, referring to a Justice Department attorney whom Attorney General William BarrBill BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy Sunday shows - Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death dominates What Attorney General Barr really said about justice MORE tasked with reviewing the case.

Gleeson argued that Sullivan has the authority to keep the case against Flynn alive and move straight to sentencing, and he lashed out at the Justice Department for exhibiting what he sees as politically motivated favoritism for the former Trump adviser.

"Based entirely on evidence already in the public view, the only coherent explanation for the Government’s exceedingly irregular motion —as well as its demonstrable pretexts — is that the Justice Department has yielded to a pressure campaign led by the President for his political associate," Gleeson wrote.

Sullivan will hold a hearing in the case on Sept. 29.