A federal judge made clear Tuesday that he would not immediately rule on the Justice Department's decision to dismiss its criminal case against former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying he would instead let outside individuals and groups weigh in with their opinions. The move suggests US District Judge Emmet Sullivan is not inclined to rubber-stamp the department's plan to dismiss the Flynn prosecution, the AP reports. The New York Times uses the phrase "hesitates to accept" and notes that Sullivan has "opened the door ... for legal experts and other outside parties to oppose" the controversial DOJ move, "suggesting he has at least some skepticism" about it himself. NBC News notes it's "unusual" for a judge to invite such third-party briefs, which will allow him to hear from people other than Flynn's team and the DOJ; CNN calls the move "extraordinary."
Flynn pleaded guilty, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, to lying to the FBI about conversations with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition period. But the Justice Department said last week that the FBI had insufficient basis to question Flynn in the first place and that statements he made during the interview were not material to the broader counterintelligence investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. Many called the move to dismiss the case politically motivated, some of the officials involved in the investigation expressed dismay at the move, and about 2,100 former DOJ officials called on Attorney General William Barr to resign. The decision must first go through Sullivan, and Flynn's legal team immediately objected to the judge's decision to allow outside briefs. (Read more Justice Department stories.)