A federal judge Wednesday temporarily denied a filing by 16 former Watergate prosecutors urging the court to deny the Justice Department’s request to drop the criminal charges against Michael Flynn and sentence him to jail instead.
U.S. District Court Emmet Sullivan said in a brief order he will provide a schedule for interested parties to submit filings. The order also mooted a bid by Flynn’s lawyers to block the group’s brief.
The prosecutors may be able to refile its brief once Judge Sullivan implements a schedule.
Earlier this week 16 former Watergate prosecutors filed a friend-of-the-court brief comparing the Flynn case to Watergate, the criminal probe that forced President Nixon’s resignation.
“The parallels and the contrasts between the Watergate affair and the present situation now before this Court make manifest that Amici have a direct and substantial interest in the proper disposition of the pending Motion directed by the incumbent Attorney General to protect a close ally of the President,” the prosecutors wrote in the filing.
Flynn’s legal team quickly sought to block the filing, arguing Wednesday morning that the former prosecutors have “no special role and no authority” to intervene in the case.
“The former prosecutors are all free to submit opinion pieces to associated media outlets — as many have already done — but this court is not the forum for their alleged special interest,” his lawyers wrote.
Flynn’s lawyers said the former Watergate prosecutors don’t deserve special treatment just because they were involved in a historic case.
“There are countless people — including former prosecutors on both sides of the parties — who would like to express their views, but there are many reasons there is no provision for outsiders to join a criminal case in this Court,” Flynn’s defense lawyers wrote in the motion.
The fight over the Watergate prosecutors comes after Judge Sullivan said Tuesday he would allow third parties with “unique information or perspective” to weigh in on the Flynn case.
It is unusual for a federal judge to seek outside comments in a criminal case and it delays the Justice Department’s efforts to dismiss the charges against Flynn.
Flynn in 2017 pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his contacts with the former Russian ambassador. The Justice Department earlier this month asked for the charges against Flynn to be dropped citing new evidence raising questions about whether the FBI set him up.