(CNN) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered Judge Emmet Sullivan to dismiss the case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, a surprise conclusion in a long-running political fight.
Despite Flynn twice pleading guilty for lying to the FBI about his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition, the Justice Department moved last month to dismiss the case against him. Sullivan did not immediately act, instead asking for a review of the decision.
If unchallenged with further appeals, the ruling exonerates Flynn after he sought to change his plea and claimed innocence.
The three-judge panel on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decided the trial judge, Sullivan, didn’t have enough reason to question the DOJ’s prosecution decisions in this case. They also said Sullivan having a third-party attorney weigh in on Flynn’s case, the former judge John Gleeson, isn’t needed anymore.
Sullivan “fails to justify the district court’s unprecedented intrusions on individual liberty and the Executive’s charging authority,” DC appeals court Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, wrote in the majority opinion.
For more on Michael Flynn, click here.