The unusual case against former national security advisor Michael Flynn has taken an even more bizarre turn this week, as the judge presiding over the case has decided to hire his own lawyer.
If you remember, Flynn was charged with perjury after he made a few phone calls to Russian diplomats in early 2017 right before he was to take over as incoming President Trump’s head of national security.
The calls, while entirely reasonable for a transition in administrations, gave then-FBI director James Comey and his cohorts against Trump just right amount of evidence that Russian collusion might be possible. And so even though no other incrimination evidence was ever found, the intelligence agency sought to oust and prosecute the former general.
However, earlier this month, evidence was released that the FBI, under instruction from Comey, plotted to coerce Flynn into lying and then admitting that he was guilty. They even threatened his son.
These newly declassified files lead the Department of Justice, led by Attorney General William Barr, to file a request to drop the case entirely.
But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan refused to do so, saying that he wasn’t convinced that Flynn should be exonerated. He then allowed out of court experts and parties to file amicus briefs, as well as appointed a former Judge John Gleeson to fight against the DOJ’s decision to dismiss the case.
Sullivan’s actions have caused the District of Columbia’s Court of Appeals to question his motives. And so they have asked that personally give a response as to his reasoning. He must do so within ten days, with a deadline of June 1. Basically, they simply want to know why he thinks the case shouldn’t be dropped and why it should be investigated further.
Now, as a judge who is well accustomed to responding between courts and giving justifications on his actions, this shouldn’t be a problem. After all, if he is really just trying to seek justice and justice served, offering a simple, honest reply should come naturally and be quickly done.
However, instead of formulating a response on his own, Sullivan has hired one of the most high-profile attorneys in the nation to do it for him. As the Washington Post reports, “In a rare step that adds to this criminal case’s already unusual path, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has retained Beth Wilkinson to represent him in defending his decision to a federal appeals court in Washington, according to a person familiar with the hire who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.”
One might assume that as a high-profile court official himself and one involved in a lengthy trial and case, Sullivan might find himself short on time and simply need a helping hand to get things done in a timely manner. However, that doesn’t explain why he chose someone with such a reputation and skill-level, not to mention a high price, as Wilkinson to do the job.
You might remember that Wilkinson was the attorney who represented Brett Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation hearings. She was also hired by a former lawyer to Hillary Clinton during the infamous private email server fail by the former first lady.
The unusual decision only serves to ask more questions about his motives and what exactly he hopes to achieve with this case.
Why on earth would Sullivan need such a lawyer at his side unless his response could have legal ramifications?
And if that’s the case, the court would definitely have more cause to agree with Flynn’s legal team, who has asked in a writ of mandamus that the court order the case to be dismissed, the judge removed from office, and Flynn be relieved of any charges.
It would seem that drawing attention to himself in this way, and at such a crucial time, isn’t doing him any favors. And could, in fact, force the court to simply agree with Flynn’s lawyers and have Sullivan fired at any moment.
It will be interesting to see what the judge’s response, given by his new and high-priced counsel will be. In either case, things aren’t looking too well for Judge Sullivan.