Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee filed an amicus brief in the ongoing and highly controversial Michael Flynn prosecution, claiming Attorney General William Barr’s attempt to dismiss the criminal case against the former National Security Advisor is illustrative of his overarching rejection of oversight by either the judicial or legislative branches.
In an 18-page amicus brief submitted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, House Democrats argued that it was the court’s responsibility to “refuse to lend its imprimatur to a decision of the Executive Branch that threatens the rule of law.”
“Attorney General Barr seeks to prevent this Court from sentencing President Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his contacts with the Russian Ambassador and his work for the Republic of Turkey. Barr’s motion is unprecedented and highly irregular,” the brief stated.
Represented by appellate attorney Deepak Gupta, Democratic lawmakers pointed to several aspects of the DOJ’s motion to dismiss the charge against Flynn, calling the move “unprecedented and highly irregular.” For example, they said the DOJ’s motion was only signed by one attorney — a political appointee who has since left his post, not a line prosecutor who had worked the case. They also said the DOJ failed to address the fact that lead prosecutor on the case withdrew before the motion to dismiss was filed.
Democrats also accused Barr of displaying favoritism towards allies of President Donald Trump, arguing that such conduct eroded public confidence in justice system.
“Few things are more corrosive to the rule of law—and the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system—than the injection of partisanship, favoritism, or corruption into prosecutorial decisions. In this case, the impropriety is barely concealed,” the brief stated. “The Department’s most recent activities create the unmistakable appearance that Attorney General Barr has improperly interfered with this proceeding for the benefit of President Trump and his political allies. The Committee cannot stand idly by when the rule of law is threatened so brazenly”
Barr has consistently frustrated members of the House Judiciary Committee by refusing to appear before the panel to provide sworn testimony. Echoing a letter sent to the attorney general last week, in which the Judiciary Committee Democrats accused Barr of stonewalling congressional oversight, the brief said Barr was using the same strategy against the judiciary.
“Barr now seeks to stonewall this Court too, arguing that this Court lacks discretion to do anything except lend its imprimatur to his decision to seek dismissal,” the brief concluded.
In response to his refusal to comply with requests to testify before Congress, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced an effort to cut the budget of Barr’s personal office by $50 million. Nadler also said the committee would begin holding DOJ whistleblower hearings in the near future.
See the full brief below.
[image via Ed Zurga/Getty Images]
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