Fifteen Republican state attorneys general are urging the judge ruling over the Michael Flynn case to dismiss it, showing support for the Trump administration’s move to drop the charges against the president's first national security adviser.
In a briefing filed Monday, the attorneys general said the court has created a problem of “inserting itself into the Justice Department's exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”
They called for Judge Emmet Sullivan to “immediately grant” the federal government’s motion to dismiss the case against Flynn, and said the federal judiciary “has no authority to make the executive branch pursue...a criminal conviction.”
“Simply put,” their brief reads, “the decision not to pursue a criminal conviction is vested in the executive branch alone — and neither the legislature nor the judiciary has any role in the executive’s making of that decision.”
They call for the court to grant the motion “without commentary on the decision to charge or not to charge, because such punditry disrobes the judiciary of its cloak of impartiality.”
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is the lead writer on the briefing, which is signed by attorneys generals for Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
The order was filed after Sullivan, a Clinton appointee, said he would allow interested parties to weigh in on the Flynn case. Sullivan on Monday tapped John Gleeson, a former federal judge in New York, to argue against the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) motion to drop charges against Flynn.
Flynn’s attorneys don't want the judge to allow outside parties to file briefs in the case, arguing it violates the separation of powers.
"It is no accident that amicus briefs are excluded in criminal cases," Flynn's lawyers wrote in a filing last week. "A criminal case is a dispute between the United States and a criminal defendant. There is no place for third parties to meddle in the dispute, and certainly not to usurp the role of the government’s counsel. For the Court to allow another to stand in the place of the government would be a violation of the separation of powers."
The DOJ's move to drop charges against Flynn for charges of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia in 2017 has sparked widespread pushback from Democrats, some of whom have renewed calls for Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrOvernight Defense: State Dept. watchdog was investigating emergency Saudi arms sales before ouster | Pompeo says he requested watchdog be fired for 'undermining' department | Pensacola naval base shooter had 'significant ties' to al Qaeda, Barr says Hillicon Valley: Uber lays off 3,000 | FBI unlocks Pensacola shooter's phones | Lawmakers introduce bill restricting purchase of airline equipment from Chinese companies The Hill's Campaign Report: DOJ, intel to be major issues in 2020 MORE to resign over the decision.
Last week, nearly 2,000 former DOJ officials who served under Republican and Democratic administrations condemned the department for the move.