Lawyer calls for judge's recusal from Flynn's criminal case

Lawyer calls for judge's recusal from Flynn's criminal case
© Aaron Schwartz

The lawyer for former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday issued a motion for the judge presiding over Flynn's criminal case to recuse himself.

Sidney Powell argued that Judge Emmet Sullivan has a bias against the former Trump administration official that risks “undermining the public’s confidence in the judicial process.”

The motion follows Sullivan’s refusal to grant the Department of Justice's (DOJ) motion to drop the charges against Flynn, a move Powell said follows a pattern of biased behavior by Sullivan. 

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Powell argued that Sullivan "cast an intolerable cloud of partiality over his subsequent judicial conduct" and "risk[ed] undermining the public’s confidence in the judicial process," violating federal guidelines. 

Sullivan is considering whether to grant the DOJ's motion to drop the charges against Flynn has appointed an outside counsel to argue against letting the prosecutors walk away from the case.

Flynn had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in 2016, before reversing course and deciding to fight the charges over the past year.

The DOJ moved in May to drop the case, arguing that the department no longer had faith that it could prove a case against Flynn. The DOJ questioned the integrity of the FBI investigation that led to the 2017 interview where the former three-star Army lieutenant general allegedly lied.

Powell cited instances at court hearings that she says demonstrated that Sullivan “is actively litigating against” Flynn, rather than serving as an impartial judge. 

Powell said in the motion that at a December 2018 hearing, “Sullivan expressed his ‘disdain’ and ‘disgust’ for General Flynn’s conduct, stated that he ‘sold [his] country out,’ and suggested that General Flynn had committed ‘treason.’ ”

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Flynn’s lawyer claimed that these remarks from Sullivan echoed statements made by MSNBC's Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowRachel Maddow extends contract with MSNBC: reports OAN loses appeal in defamation lawsuit against Rachel Maddow Nunes sues MSNBC, alleging Rachel Maddow defamed him MORE during the previous night’s broadcast of her show. 

Powell then cited multiple other alleged instances of the judge using extrajudicial information from media reports and elsewhere to make conclusions regarding Flynn’s case, and added that Sullivan refused to allow new evidence presented by the government. 

In reference to the continuation of the Flynn trial despite the DOJ's move to dismiss charges, Powell said in her motion, that “never has a court worked so hard or stretched the facts and law so far to smear a defendant and his counsel—and to try to deny an undeniable motion to dismiss.” 

Powell’s warned Sullivan in court last week that she would file an official call for his removal from the Flynn case. 

Powell also admitted during that hearing that she had briefed President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE about Flynn’s case in recent weeks and had asked him not to pardon the former top national security official. 

"After the government moved to dismiss, at some point in the last month or so, I provided the White House an update on the overall status of the litigation," Powell said at the time. 

She denied asking the president to drop the case or to have the career prosecutors replaced but said that she had spoken to Trump multiple times.