Published on: Thursday, July 30, 2020

A federal appeals court agreed to reconsider its ruling that the judge overseeing the criminal case against President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn had no choice but to dismiss it, article available here. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ordered rehearing arguments on the issue, saying a majority of the ten judges who considered the District Court's request voted to approve it. The order vacates the three-judge panel's order that Judge Sullivan dismiss Flynn's case.

Flynn pleaded guilty in late 2017 to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with a Russian diplomat in the weeks before the inauguration of President Donald Trump. But for more than a year, he has sought to undo the plea, and recently found support from top Justice Department officials. Attorney General William Barr made the surprise decision to drop the case in May after he said a U.S. attorney he had appointed to review the FBI's investigation uncovered evidence that undercut Flynn's prosecution. The District Court refused to rubber-stamp the Justice Department's motion to dismiss, which triggered the appeal.

A three-judge panel in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington DC in late June ordered (2-1) the District Court to dismiss the case after hearing arguments. But the District Court asked the full appeals court to reconsider that order. The full appeals court has now agreed to do so. The decision to grant an en banc rehearing before a larger panel of judges revives a case that has raised questions about the independence of the Justice Department under the president. The ruling is a blow to the retired Army lieutenant general and the Justice Department, which has asked the trial judge to drop the charge.

The full line-up of judges on the appeals court set oral arguments for the so-called en banc reconsideration hearing for August 11, 2020.