The Judge in Michael Flynn’s Case Just Dealt Trump Another Blow

Prior to Michael Flynn’s sentencing hearing on Tuesday, several of Trump’s enablers in the media assumed that Judge Emmet Sullivan would be a hero to their cause of attempting to defend Flynn from his attackers in the “deep state.” For example, here’s Judge Jeanine Pirro:

Kimberly Strassel also extolled Judge Sullivan prior to the hearing, calling him “a judge who is wise to the tricks of prosecutors and investigators … His reputation is for being no-nonsense, a straight shooter, an advocate of government transparency.”

But as my colleague Martin Longman documented so clearly, things didn’t turn out as they planned. Here’s just a taste of what went down in Sullivan’s courtroom on Tuesday:

Instead, Sullivan tore into Flynn and his lawyers. He almost bizarrely put Flynn under oath before demanding that he admit his guilt and deny all the right-wing talking points which have recently been repeated by the president himself. He forced Flynn to admit that he knew he was wrong to lie to the FBI and that there had been no misconduct in how his interviews were conducted. He acknowledged that any possible wrongdoing then-Deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe and counterintelligence official Peter Strzok may have committed in other areas had no bearing on his responsibility to be truthful to federal agents.

The tables turned pretty quickly as Trump’s enablers were forced to change their tune about Sullivan. Lou Dobbs ran point on that one Tuesday night, suggesting that Sullivan sounded like a member of Mueller’s “witch hunt.”

Apparently Judge Sullivan is a busy guy because he just dealt Trump another blow. For some background, back in June, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new policy making it all but impossible for asylum seekers to gain entry into the United States by citing fears of domestic abuse or gang violence. The ACLU filed suit against that policy and Sullivan was the presiding judge. On Wednesday, he issued his ruling.

A Washington federal judge declared unlawful Wednesday a set of new restrictions the Trump administration imposed on immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. on the basis of domestic violence and fear of gangs.

The judge, Emmet Sullivan of Washington’s federal trial court, said the Trump administration had run afoul of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. Sullivan permanently enjoined the U.S. government from continuing the new policies, which were announced this summer by then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and demanded the return of immigrants named in the case who he said were unlawfully deported. Those immigrants, he wrote, should receive “new credible fear determinations consistent with the immigration laws.”

“Many of these policies are inconsistent with the intent of Congress as articulated in the INA. And because it is the will of Congress—not the whims of the executive—that determines the standard for expedited removal, the court finds that those policies are unlawful,” Sullivan wrote in his 107-page ruling.

With that, Sullivan joins a long line of judges who have stood up to the president’s attempts to institute xenophobic immigration policies via the executive branch.

Last Sunday, Trump’s point man on immigration, Stephen Miller, emerged from the bowels of the White House to defend his boss’s insistence on funding for a border wall. While a lot of the reaction was aimed at Miller’s new spray-on hair, he became particularly rageful about “leftwing activist judicial rulings that incentivize the most vulnerable populations to come to our country.” Given that, you can bet your last dollar that Miller was shaking his fist at this recent ruling from Judge Sullivan. The guy is obviously the opposite of the hero Trump’s enablers initially made him out to be. In other words, he actually understands the rule of law and what the Statue of Liberty symbolizes about this country and our values.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.