Former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s defense team filed a motion Wednesday to disqualify D.C. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan from his position in Flynn’s trials after his blatant demonstration of bias against Flynn beginning in December of 2018.
Flynn previously pleaded guilty to “lying to FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka during a Jan. 24, 2017, interview in the White House about conversations Flynn had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.” After a probe by the DOJ launched, however, it was discovered that “substantial exculpatory evidence was withheld from Flynn and his attorneys that established that the FBI agents did not believe Flynn had lied during the interview.” It was revealed in September that Flynn was targeted by the Special Counsel Office (SCO) to “get Trump.”
In court documents released Wednesday, Flynn’s lawyers allege that Sullivan “cast an intolerable cloud of partiality over his subsequent judicial conduct” and “risk[ed] undermining the public’s confidence in the judicial process” by exhibiting unethical judicial behavior.
“Here, there can be no question that this judge has created the appearance of bias that mandates his disqualification,” the motion says.
Flynn’s lawyers argue that Sullivan is litigating against Flynn despite his judicial position, and violating the impartiality he is sworn to protect.
“[A]ll that must be demonstrated to compel recusal,” then, is “a showing of an appearance of bias … sufficient to permit the average citizen reasonably to question a judge’s impartiality,” the motion states.
Flynn’s hearing on Sept. 29 alone, the defense says, demonstrated the court’s “contempt and disdain” for Flynn. It was in that hearing that the legal team first motioned for Sullivan’s “immediate disqualification,” which he refused to allow to be fully stated for the record.
“It was apparent that the court was desperate to find something wrong,” the defense team notes.
It was in this hearing that the D.C. Circuit Court denied Flynn’s petition for a writ of mandamus that would have forced Sullivan to drop Flynn’s charges, which he previously refused to dismiss after the Department of Justice had filed to drop the charges.
The defense team also alleges that Sullivan “echoed” corporate mainstream narratives from NBC News’s Rachel Maddow and an opinion editorial in the Washington Post by former judge John Gleeson in his handling of the case.
“It was improper for the court to allow extra-judicial media commentary to affect his conduct,” the document states.
Not only did Sullivan use the opinions presented by those mainstream media pundits to inform his procedural decisions against Flynn, but he also appointed Gleeson, who previously wrote opinion editorials about Flynn, as an amicus for the case.
“There is no doubt that, given Judge Sullivan’s comments and actions appointing Mr. Gleeson from his Washington Post opinion piece, the average citizen might reasonably question his impartiality,” the defense team states in the motion.
The motion also alleges that Sullivan secretly accepted outside sourcing and opinions via email about Flynn’s case from Aitan Goelman, counsel to former FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, without following proper protocol or notifying either set of legal counsel.
“A court that appears to be taking its marching orders from extra-judicial sources undermines the public confidence in the judicial system that section 455(a) was designed to protect,” the document states.