The attorney, Sidney Powell, said she recently briefed the president on the case and asked him not to issue a pardon.
A federal judge on Tuesday pressed the lead lawyer for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn about her contacts with President Donald Trump and whether she had urged him or Attorney General William Barr to take any actions to influence the ongoing case.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan’s grilling of Flynn attorney Sidney Powell, during a highly anticipated hearing, underscored Sullivan’s deep concerns about the effort by Flynn and the Justice Department — with Trump’s active and public support — to drop a criminal case against Flynn that has been pending since 2017.
After initially resisting and citing potential executive privilege concerns, Powell revealed that she briefed Trump on the case within the last two weeks and requested that he not issue a pardon. But she denied asking the president to take any other actions related to the case.
“I can tell you I spoke one time to the president about this case to inform him about the general status of this litigation,” Powell said.
“Did you ever ask the president of the United States or request his attorney general to appoint new attorneys in this case?” Sullivan wondered.
“Oh, heavens no,” Powell said.
Powell’s disclosure represents the latest dramatic turn in a highly contentious case that has led to accusations on both sides of political meddling in the Flynn saga. The former national security adviser’s defenders say his prosecution was an act of retribution by the outgoing Obama administration, while ex-officials involved in his case say there’s little doubt he broke the law and that their actions were well warranted.
Sullivan has exhibited deep skepticism about the bid by the Justice Department and Flynn to shut down the prosecution despite the guilty plea the former Trump adviser entered nearly three years ago — to the point where he bucked DOJ’s demand for an immediate dismissal and tapped a retired judge, John Gleeson, to advise him on how best to proceed.
While DOJ lawyers and Flynn’s legal team have urged Sullivan to simply dismiss the case and not to proceed to sentence the retired Army lieutenant general on the false-statement charge he admitted to in 2017, the judge remarked Tuesday that his view is that sentencing in the case is already underway.
“The sentencing has already commenced in this case,” Sullivan declared, noting that a sentencing hearing that took place in December 2018 was adjourned to allow the former Defense Intelligence Agency chief to complete his cooperation with prosecutors by testifying at the expected trial of one of his former business partners.
The import of the judge’s view of sentencing as being in progress wasn’t entirely clear, but it suggested that he viewed as extraordinary the government’s decision to abandon the case. The statement might also have been a sign that Sullivan could be open to Gleeson’s proposal that the court proceed with sentencing Flynn despite the unified view of prosecution and defense that the charge should be thrown out.
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