Law & the Courts

Dem Senator Labels Neomi Rao ‘Cartoon of a Fake Judge’ over Flynn Ruling

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Washington, D.C., September 27, 2018 (Tom Williams/Pool via Reuters)

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) called Judge Neomi Rao “a cartoon of a fake judge” after she ruled that the judge presiding over Michael Flynn’s case must explain why he hasn’t complied with the government’s request to drop the case.

“Where you see Neomi Rao, you can expect a lot of Trumpy dirt to follow. She’s a cartoon of a fake judge. Watch this space,” Whitehouse tweeted.

Rao joined fellow circuit judges Karen LeCraft Henderson and Judge Robert L. Wilkins on Thursday in ordering Judge Emmet Sullivan to respond within ten days to Flynn’s request that the D.C. Circuit comply with the Justice Department’s motion to drop its case.

After the DOJ said “newly discovered and disclosed information” had changed its opinion on Flynn’s 2017 guilty plea, Sullivan delayed dropping the case, allowing third parties to weigh in. He also appointed an outside party “to present arguments in opposition” to the DOJ’s motion, including the possibility that Flynn could be charged with perjury or contempt.

Rao was appointed to the D.C. circuit in March 2019, and was given a “well qualified” rating by the American Bar Association after President Trump nominated her to the position.

Whitehouse’s comments drew immediate blowback from fellow Senate Judiciary Committee member Mike Lee (R., Utah), who defended Rao as “a gifted, hard-working legal scholar and jurist.”

“I know you disagree with her here—and I strongly disagree with you on that point—but is it ever appropriate to call a sitting jurist “a cartoon of a fake judge”? I can’t think of a good reason. Ever,” Lee tweeted.

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