The federal judge who refused a Justice Department request to immediately drop the prosecution of former Trump adviser Michael Flynn has hired a high-profile trial lawyer to argue his reasons for investigating whether dismissing the case is legally or ethically appropriate.
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 ...
Wilkinson, known for her top-notch legal skills and get-results style, is expected to file a notice with the court in the coming week about representing the judge. ...
A federal judge doesn’t typically hire private counsel to respond to an appeals court, ...
Sullivan also asked retired New York judge John Gleeson to examine whether Flynn may have committed perjury while pleading guilty to lying about his pre-inauguration contacts with Russia’s ambassador. Flynn’s lawyers then accused Sullivan of bias and asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to intervene.
On Thursday, that higher court took the extraordinary step of ordering Sullivan to answer within 10 days. The court also invited the Justice Department to comment.
Wilkinson, a go-to advocate for prominent officials snared in major Washington investigations and high-stakes legal battles, now joins the fray. Wilkinson represented Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh when he was a Supreme Court nominee and battling accusations he had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were both teens. Her firm also represented [Cheryl Mills] longtime confidant of Hillary Clinton amid an investigation into whether Clinton, then secretary of state, had mishandled classified information while trying to avoid using government emails.
Mike Davis and TechnoFog ask a highly pertinent question:
Is Judge Sullivan personally paying for these private attorneys to represent him?
Or are taxpayers on the hook for this highly unusual arrangement?
4:58 PM · May 23, 2020
Flynn update via WaPo:
Judge Sullivan - ordered to explain his reasons for not granting the DOJ motion to dismiss - has hired a lawyer to apparently do his work for him.
4:02 PM · May 23, 2020
Certainly an odd development. Theres no reason Sullivan can't respond to appeals court order himself.
"A federal judge doesn’t typically hire private counsel to respond to an appeals court"
Unsure if the appeals court will allow this.
Andy McCarthy weighs in:
What is Judge Sullivan thinking? A judge tells Court of Appeals he needs a lawyer to represent him on his management and rulings in a case? Where outcome, whether he likes it or not, is obvious under Circuit precedent? Are plaudits for anti-Trump cred worth his reputation? 1/2
6:26 PM · May 23, 2020
He’s totally entitled to fume on the record that Flynn looked him in the eye and swore that he lied, that Flynn’s erratic litigation strategy caused the court needless effort, and that he thinks DOJ is wrong. But the law requires him to grant the dismissal. Do your job.
Senator Tom Cotton makes an obvious but still excellent point:
Judge Sullivan is supposed to be neutral arbiter.
But he hired a high-powered defense attorney to justify his bizarre attempt to force Flynn's prosecution.
How can Sullivan judge this case when at this point, he's effectively a participant?
6:08 PM · May 23, 2020
I dunno. If I'm the Appeals Court at this point, I think I'm rather PO'ed.
UPDATE 2: Zerohedge:
Apparently, Sullivan needs Wiklinson's help to explain what he's up to - and why he isn't simply the deep state's bitch.
Zerohedge has a serious point, actually. You'll recall how I've been saying that the Flynn case leads straight to the heart of Team Mueller. Well, once the Flynn case is dismissed, all that comes front and center. Now, check out what shipwreckedcrew tweeted earlier today--and he doesn't strike me as the bomb throwing type:
Heads will explode on the left if AG Barr makes public that he has initiated an investigation into Andrew Weissman and Co. I think events have revealed that Mueller was a figure head, and the Anti-Trumper lawyers brought to the SCO called all the shots.
Yes, Weissmann was the heart of Team Mueller.
And notice the way shipwreckedcrew phrases that: "Heads will explode on the left if AG Barr makes public that he HAS initiated an investigation into Andrew Weissman and Co. Like me, shipwreckedcrew appears to assume that Weissmann is a definite target. Long since, IMO.
Is this the real and very specific reason for these frantic attempts to somehow prolong the Flynn case?
UPDATE 2: There's divided opinion on what's going on here, and especially regarding whether Sullivan has a right to an attorney in this situation. My lawyer son points out that Sullivan appears to be treating this proceeding as similar to a contempt citation--that was my thinking behind suggesting that Sullivan fears disciplinary proceedings. A show cause hearing. The Court of Appeals order, while framed in response to a petition for a writ, certainly suggested that Sullivan was acting in contempt of binding Circuit precedent, among possibly several other improper or outright unethical acts. On the other hand, no matter the tone of the order, it can be argued that the two moments are distinguishable and that Sullivan should not be allowed to treat himself as a defendant--at this stage. After all, judges aren't allowed to out source their rulings in other situations, so why should this be different unless the Court of Appeals expressly allowed for it?
Here are some Twitter threads that discuss the issue of Sullivan hiring an attorney. It appears that this is a highly unusual situation, although it is in fact the logical extension of Lawfare war against all opposition and situation ethics:
Courts normally prefer to deal with discrete issues in small chunks--which is wise. But sometimes the big picture must be considered. Sullivan is making a mockery of the very notion of an impartial judiciary. And that is what our legal revolutionaries believe--that there is no such thing as impartiality and that all that matters is winning. It's about power. It goes back as far as--and probably farther than--Plato's Gorgias.