Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., told "Fox & Friends" on Sunday it was an "unprecedented" step for U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to hire a personal attorney as an appeals court reviews his decision not to immediately grant the Justice Department's request to dismiss its case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
"He's wanting to play every position, he wants to play the defense attorney, the prosecutor... the judge, he wants to bring in his own hearings here. This is something that's very concerning," Collins told co-host Griff Jenkins. "It's no shock to me that he finally had to go get his outside counsel because he's operating in areas right here that frankly, he needs to explain."
Sullivan hired high-profile attorney Beth Wilkinson, after Flynn's attorney last week filed an emergency writ of mandamus to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals seeking that the prosecution against Flynn be dismissed as the Justice Department has requested, and for Sullivan to be taken off the case.
The order issued Thursday directed Sullivan to file a response by June 1, and invited the government to respond "in its discretion within the same 10-day period."
"I think the court of appeals is saying, 'This is something wrong, we need to look at [it],'" Collins said. "DOJ acted properly. It happens all the time in cases. Why is he not doing this? I think he's trying to play politics."
The added representation compounded what has become an abnormal case. Although Flynn pleaded guilty to misleading the FBI about his contacts with Russia after the 2016 presidential election, he's been seeking to withdraw that plea as the Justice Department argued the FBI had an insufficient basis to interview him in the first place.
Rather than granting the DOJ's dismissal, Sullivan appointed a retired judge to argue against the department's position and to consider whether Flynn needed to be held in criminal contempt for perjury.
"That's exactly why he's getting an attorney," Collins argued.
"I think we’re delving into areas here where the question is becoming a conflict of interest. You have a judge who has implicated himself in a case now in which he is sitting at the final arbiter of what General Flynn’s decision is."
Collins called Sullivan's handling of the Flynn case "just wrong," and urged the judge to "release" Flynn from what he called "an attack on our system."
"It needs to be done away with so we can move on," Collins added, "and Emmet Sullivan doesn’t need to continue to have at this."
Fox News' Sam Dorman and Griff Jenkins contributed to this report.