A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered a lower court to allow the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to be dismissed, as requested by the Justice Department — likely ending the years-long legal saga stemming from the Russia investigation.
The abrupt ending came in a 2-1 ruling and order from judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
This was the result of an appeal from Flynn’s lawyers asking for a so-called writ of mandamus — essentially an order telling a government official to carry out a certain duty — directing District Judge Emmet Sullivan to approve the DOJ’s motion to dismiss.
Sullivan did not immediately grant that motion and instead sought to hold hearings on the matter, angering Flynn allies.
The unusual move from Sullivan to keep the case alive despite prosecutors’ wishes was preceded by an unusual move from the DOJ itself to drop the charges against Flynn even after he had pleaded guilty — saying the FBI interview that led to his charge of lying to investigators about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador had no “legitimate investigative basis.”
It’s unclear whether Sullivan could try to appeal to the full appeals court or even to the Supreme Court in order to keep the case alive. The next step otherwise would likely be for Sullivan to comply.