WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge made clear Tuesday that he would not immediately rule on the Justice Department’s decision to dismiss its criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying he would instead let outside individuals and groups weigh in with their opinions.
The move suggests U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan is not inclined to automatically rubber-stamp the department’s dismissal of the Flynn prosecution.
Flynn pleaded guilty, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition period.
But the Justice Department said last week that the FBI had no basis to question Flynn in the first place and that statements he made during the FBI interview were not material to the broader counterintelligence investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. It said dismissing the case was in the interests of justice.
But the decision must first go through Sullivan, who said in a written order Tuesday night that “given the current posture of this case,” he anticipated “that individuals and organizations will seek leave of the Court” to file briefs expressing their opinions.
That is a likely reference to the considerable debate the Justice Department’s action has prompted over the last week.