By Jan Wolfe
WASHINGTON, Aug 11 – A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday will consider whether a federal judge is obligated to honor the Trump administration’s request to drop the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
The hearing is the latest skirmish between the Justice Department, which has sought to abandon a politically charged case against the Trump ally, and U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who says he cannot act as a “rubber stamp” for the highly unusual move.
Ten judges sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hold an oral argument at 9:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT).
In a 2-1 decision on June 24, a three-judge panel of the same court said Sullivan must grant the Justice Department’s request to dismiss the case.
Sullivan asked the full court to reconsider, saying the Justice Department’s move was unprecedented and had to be carefully scrutinized.
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was charged under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller´s investigation that detailed Moscow´s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Flynn twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia´s then-ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn then switched lawyers to pursue a new scorched-earth tactic that accused the FBI of setting him up. The Justice Department then asked to drop the case, a highly unusual step.
Democrats have said the Flynn case is an example of Attorney General William Barr meddling improperly to help Trump´s friends and political allies.
Tuesday’s arguments will by heard by 10 of the D.C. Circuit’s 11 active judges. Judge Gregory Katsas, a Trump appointee who previously served in the White House Counsel’s office, recused himself.
The judges will either allow Sullivan to hear arguments on the Justice Department’s request, or rule against him and order an end the long-running case. (Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Sarah N. Lynch Editing by Andy Sullivan and Cynthia Osterman)