The linked article from The Washington Post is one of many similar stories we awoke to on May 12th. The “back story” –William Barr’s frontal assault on both the rule of law and the integrity of the Department of Justice by petitioning to drop the case against Michael Flynn–enraged patriotic Americans; it outraged lawyers in particular. (Lawyers and former lawyers tend to think that the rule of law matters. A lot.)
When news broke of this unprecedented and dishonest pleading, my hope was that the judge presiding over the case–who had shown no particular sympathy for Flynn–would deny it. I assumed that Barr knew such a denial was probable. However, Barr also knew that the mere fact that the DOJ had filed such a pleading would add plausibility to the President’s multiple lies about the Mueller investigation and the wacko conspiracy theory he’s calling “Obamagate.”
In other words, no matter what the judge ruled, the mere fact that Barr submitted the pleading would be a “win/win” for the forces of obfuscation, and would become part of Trump’s Big Lie about a nefarious “Obamagate” plot.
The judge outsmarted him. Bigly.
A U.S. judge put on hold the Justice Department’s move to drop charges against Michael Flynn, saying he expects independent groups and legal experts to argue against the bid to exonerate President Trump’s former national security adviser of lying to the FBI.
U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said in an order Tuesday that he expects individuals and organizations will seek to intervene in the politically charged case. Having others weigh in could preface more aggressive steps that the federal judge in Washington could take, including — as many outside observers have called for — holding a hearing to consider what to do.
Sullivan also appointed a retired judge to argue against the DOJ’s request.
Judge Sullivan said he will set a schedule for outside parties to argue against the claims made in the Justice Department’s effort to drop the charges. Amicus briefs will be allowed from parties who believe they have interests that would be affected by the ruling, or from
parties or organizations with “unique information or perspective that can help the court.”
The nearly 2000 lawyers who formerly worked for the DOJ and recently signed a letter demanding Barr’s resignation would certainly qualify as having a “unique perspective.”
So would a group that identified itself as “Watergate Prosecutors,” who had filed a unique request a day earlier. They asked permission to file a friend-of-the-court brief addressing the need for independent scrutiny and oversight to “ensure that crucial decisions about prosecutions of high-ranking government officials are made in the public interest.”
“The integrity of prosecutorial decision making is a cornerstone of the rule of law,” they wrote. “Amici have a special interest in restoring the public trust in prosecutorial decision making and in public confidence in the viability of future independent investigations and prosecutions if the results of such work are likely to be subjected to reversal by transparent political influence.”
What is especially gratifying is that the Judge’s order not only allows these and other parties to file objections to the Justice Department’s move, but that such objections could open the door for adversarial proceedings in which arguments for and against Barr’s effort to dismiss the case would be heard.
Especially gratifying is the conclusion that such objections would also permit, if the judge chooses, requiring both sides to produce evidence and revisit the case for and against Flynn.
Instead of allowing Trump to use Barr’s pleading to confuse voters and sow even more distrust of the government he was elected to manage, the Judge’s move might allow re-litigation of the charges and re-airing of the evidence–something quite contrary to what Trump and Barr were hoping to accomplish.
As Jean-Luc Picard might say, “Make it so.”
Karma’s a bitch. I love it.