A former US judge accused the Justice Department on Wednesday of "gross abuse" of power for seeking to drop charges against President Donald Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
Former federal judge John Gleeson was brought in last month by the judge hearing the Flynn case to review the unusual move by Attorney General Bill Barr to dismiss the charges against the retired army general.
Flynn, a former defense intelligence chief, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to one count of lying to the FBI about his secret negotiations with the Russian ambassador to Washington ahead of Trump taking office.
Last month's Justice Department move to dismiss the charges was a stunning reversal in the three-year-old case and came even though Flynn had pleaded guilty twice.
Judge Emmet Sullivan, who has been hearing the Flynn case, asked Gleeson to weigh in on the government move and he came back with a damning opinion.
Flynn's guilty plea should not be thrown out, Gleeson said, and the Justice Department's bid to dismiss the charges was a "gross abuse of prosecutorial power."
"The government has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the president," Gleeson said in an 82-page brief.
The former judge recommended that Judge Sullivan proceed to sentencing Flynn for the false-statement charge to which he has already pleaded guilty.
Flynn's conviction stemed from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia in the 2016 election.
Trump seized upon Barr's controversial move to dismiss the charges against Flynn as vindication of his claim that the Mueller probe was a "witch hunt."