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A divided federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered the dismissal of the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, turning back efforts by a judge to scrutinize the Justice Department’s extraordinary decision to drop the prosecution.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said in a 2-1 ruling that the Justice Department’s move to abandon the case against Flynn settles the matter, even though Flynn pleaded guilty as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to lying to the FBI.

The ruling, a significant win for both Flynn and the Justice Department, appears to cut short what could have been a protracted legal fight over the basis for the government’s dismissal of the case. It came as Democrats question whether the Justice Department has become too politicized and Attorney General William Barr too quick to side with the president, particularly as he vocally criticizes, and even undoes, some of the results of the Russia investigation.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Wednesday centered on another unusual move by Barr to overrule his own prosecutors and ask for less prison time for another Trump associate, Roger Stone. Barr has accepted an invitation to testify before the panel on July 28, a spokeswoman said Wednesday, and he will almost certainly be pressed about the Flynn case.

Trump tweeted just moments after the ruling became public: “Great! Appeals Court Upholds Justice Departments Request to Drop Criminal Case Against General Michael Flynn.”

Later, at the White House, Trump told reporters he was happy for Flynn.

“He was treated horribly by a group of very bad people,” Trump said. “What happened to Gen. Flynn should never happen in our country.”

Flynn called into conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh’s radio show and said the ruling was a good development for him and his family. But he also called it “great boost of confidence for the American people in our justice system because that’s what this really comes down to — is whether or not our justice system is going to have the confidence of the American people.”

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan had declined to immediately dismiss the case, seeking instead to evaluate on his own the department’s request. He appointed a retired federal judge to argue against the Justice Department’s position and to consider whether Flynn could be held in criminal contempt for perjury. He had set a July 16 hearing to formally hear the request to dismiss the case.


A court in eastern Germany indicated Tuesday that it will likely reject a Jewish man’s bid to force the removal of an ugly remnant of centuries of anti-Semitism from a church where Martin Luther once preached.

The Naumburg court's senate said, at a hearing, that “it will maybe reject the appeal,” court spokesman Henning Haberland told reporters.

“The senate could not follow the plaintiff's opinion that the defamatory sculpture can be seen as an expression of disregard in its current presentation,” Haberland said.

The verdict will be announced on February 4.

The so-called “Judensau,” or “Jew pig,” sculpture on the Town Church in Wittenberg dates back to around 1300. It is perhaps the best-known of more than 20 such anti-Semitic relics from the Middle Ages that still adorn churches across Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Located 4 meters (13 feet) above the ground on a corner of the church, it depicts Jews suckling on the teats of a sow, while a rabbi lifts the animal’s tail. In 1570, after the Protestant Reformation, an inscription referring to an anti-Jewish tract by Luther was added.

Judaism considers pigs impure and no one disputes that the sculpture is deliberately offensive. But there is strong disagreement about what to do with the relief.


Rosemary Roberts, the mother of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, has died. She was 90. A spokeswoman for the court said Rosemary Roberts died Saturday. Roberts was born Rosemary Podrasky in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and married John G. Roberts Sr. in 1952, according to an obituary published in The Tribune-Democrat.

She worked in Pennsylvania and New York as a customer service representative for A&P supermarkets and the Bell Telephone Company, according to the obituary.

The family moved around over the years for Roberts Sr.’s job at Bethlehem Steel Corp. and lived in New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Maryland. They later moved to Ohio and South Carolina for other business opportunities and for retirement.

Rosemary Roberts participated in local religious and charitable organizations and served as a hospital and library volunteer, the obituary said. She and her husband moved to Maryland in 2001 to be closer to their family.

Their son, John Roberts, was nominated in 2005 by President George W. Bush to be chief justice of the Supreme Court. He replaced the late William Rehnquist.

Rosemary Roberts is survived by four children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Her husband died in 2008 after a long illness.


A federal court in San Francisco has taken the unusual step of using the word "torture" to describe the treatment of a Palestinian man while he was in CIA custody following the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals used the word in a 2-1 ruling to describe the harsh interrogation methods used against a prisoner known as Abu Zubaydah while he was held in clandestine CIA detention facilities overseas.

Zubaydah has been held without charge since September 2006 at the detention center on the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

His lawyers were seeking depositions from two private contractors who designed the CIA interrogation program. The Ninth Circuit ruling said the two contractors could face limited questioning.



John Paul Stevens, the bow-tied, independent-thinking, Republican-nominated justice who unexpectedly emerged as the Supreme Court’s leading liberal, died Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after suffering a stroke Monday. He was 99.

During nearly 35 years on the court, Stevens stood for the freedom and dignity of individuals, be they students or immigrants or prisoners. He acted to limit the death penalty, squelch official prayer in schools, establish gay rights, promote racial equality and preserve legal abortion. He protected the rights of crime suspects and illegal immigrants facing deportation.

He influenced fellow justices to give foreign terrorism suspects held for years at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base the right to plead for their release in U.S. courts.

Stevens served more than twice the average tenure for a justice, and was only the second to mark his 90th birthday on the high court. From his appointment by President Gerald Ford in 1975 through his retirement in June 2010, he shaped decisions that touched countless aspects of American life.

“He brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom and independence. His unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement.

The White House issued a statement saying President Donald Trump and the first lady offered their condolences to Stevens’ family and friends and praising “his passion for the law and for our country.”

He remained an active writer and speaker into his late 90s, surprising some when he came out against Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation following Kavanaugh’s angry denial of sexual assault allegations. Stevens wrote an autobiography, “The Making of a Justice: My First 94 Years,” that was released just after his 99th birthday in April 2019.


A New Jersey judge who told a woman she could "close your legs" to prevent a sexual assault is "remorseful," his lawyer said.

Judge John Russo Jr. did not speak Tuesday during a disciplinary hearing before the state Supreme Court. But his lawyer, Amelia Carolla, told the justices Russo has "learned his lesson" and he "will not do this again."

Russo has previously said he was seeking more information and wasn't trying to humiliate the woman.

The woman appeared before Russo in 2016 seeking a restraining order against a man she said sexually assaulted her. According to a transcript of the exchange, when the woman described her encounter with the man, Russo asked her, "Do you know how to stop somebody from having intercourse with you?"

When the woman answered affirmatively and said one method would be to run away, Russo continued, "Close your legs? Call the police? Did you do any of those things?" He also made joking comments to staffers about the exchange after the woman had left the courtroom, according to a report issued by an ethics committee.

Russo was put on administrative leave in 2017 and reassigned to a different county court in December. In April, the ethics committee called his conduct "discourteous and inappropriate" and recommended he be suspended for three months without pay, though several dissenting members felt a six-month suspension would be more appropriate. The Supreme Court will issue a final determination.


The Supreme Court is declining to get involved in a dispute that began when a group tried to have Washington transit officials display an ad with a provocative cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

The justices said Monday they would not get involved in the case.

The Texas-based American Freedom Defense Initiative in 2015 submitted an ad that depicted a sword-wielding Prophet Muhammad saying: “You can’t draw me!” Muslims generally believe any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is blasphemous. The cartoon won a contest the group sponsored.

After the ad was submitted, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s board of directors voted to temporarily suspend all issue-oriented advertisements on the region’s rail and bus system.


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