Federal prosecutors need to provide detailed documentation of allegations of corruption among Obama administration officials, Judge Emmett Sullivan said on Friday.
The move will force prosecutors to attest to the truth of exhibits that they’ve filed in the Michael Flynn prosecution, after Judge Sullivan said that a previous document — notes that the government admitted had been altered with post-it notes prior to filing — broke his trust that federal prosecutors would file accurate documents.
Now, Sullivan is demanding that the DOJ produce two declarations attesting to the veracity of exhibits it has filed in the case since making the unprecedented decision to drop charges against the former national security adviser in May. The judge also wants prosecutors to itemize each exhibit by date, author, and name, and to type up all handwritten documents filed in the matter.
The order creates reams of work for the DOJ in its bid to drop charges against Flynn, and compels federal prosecutors to back up numerous claims they’ve made in the case after the DOJ conceded that the document had been altered.
The Trump administration has suggested that the filings in question prove allegations that Obama-era federal law enforcement officials set up Flynn in an example of malicious prosecution.
There hasn’t been any serious evidence to support that charge. The development comes after an attorney for former FBI official Peter Strzok disputed the date of a page of notes that government attorneys filed in the case last month, saying that they had been “altered” and incorrectly dated in a way that could make it appear that a White House meeting occurred earlier than it did.
The Justice Department made the unprecedented decision in May to drop charges against Flynn in the case, causing a shockwave and triggering Judge Sullivan’s decision to appoint an amicus in the matter to oppose the government’s motion.
The case spent the summer on appeal, before Sullivan heard arguments about whether to accept the government’s motion to dismiss last month.
At that hearing, Sullivan told the DOJ that it would need to “authenticate documents” that had been filed with the court, after Strzok said that the notes had been altered.
The Justice Department later acknowledged that an FBI agent had photocopied documents with sticky notes that had been subsequently attached to them. The result was that the documents had dates on them, even though they had previously been undated.
Sullivan wrote that this means he can no longer presume that the government’s record in the case is accurate.
“Here, however, the government has acknowledged that altered FBI records have been produced by the government and filed on the record in this case,” Sullivan wrote.
He then ordered federal prosecutors to produce two declarations: one attesting to the veracity of the exhibits filed to its initial motion to dismiss the charges, and another attesting to the exhibits that the government produced to Flynn, which he then filed in the docket.
The DOJ has to “identify each discovery document by name, date, and author” and “provide transcriptions of all handwritten notes.”