A federal judge who repeatedly rejected a Department of Justice request to dismiss the case against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, even after President Trump’s pardon, finally ended the three-year legal saga on Tuesday.
Judge Emmet Sullivan said in his 43-page decision that he probably would not have approved the motion to drop the case if not for the pardon, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
He insisted the pardon doesn’t make Flynn innocent.
“President Trump’s decision to pardon Mr. Flynn is a political decision, not a legal one. Because the law recognizes the President’s political power to pardon, the appropriate course is to dismiss this case as moot,” Sullivan wrote.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the now-debunked Russia collusion claims.
Attorney General William Barr led the effort to drop the case against Flynn, explaining he believed the FBI under James Comey had set a “perjury trap” for Flynn during an interview which led to his pleading guilty to making false statements.
Flynn later asked to withdraw the plea with the aid of a new lawyer, Sidney Powell. New evidence, he said, showed he had been “ambushed” by agents after the FBI found there was no case against him.
An investigation by a U.S. attorney found no foundation for the interview in which Flynn was accused of lying. The FBI already had a transcript of the telephone call at the center of the case, with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, meaning any false statements were immaterial. Unsealed evidence shows the FBI was prepared to drop the case for lack of evidence. But fired lead investigator Peter Strzok pressed ahead and set up the “ambush” interview at the White House. A memo shows FBI agents plotted before the interview to get Flynn to lie so he could be fired.
The presidential pardon was for the charge of making false statements but also included “any and all possible offenses arising from the facts set forth in the Information and Statement of Offense” and any charges that could arise from the special counsel investigation.
When the DOJ requested the case be dismissed, Sullivan essentially took over the role as prosecutor, appointing retired New York judge John Gleeson to argue against the DOJ’s request.
Flynn’s attorney, Powell, charged that Sullivan’s “increasingly hostile and unprecedented words and deeds in what has become his own prosecution of General Flynn mandate his disqualification.”
The DOJ also said Sullivan should be removed from the case.
When the pardon was announced, the Democrats in Congress who had been pushing the false Russia collusion narrative were upset.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff of California — who claimed for two years he had secret evidence of collusion — charged that Trump “has repeatedly abused the pardon power to reward friends and protect those who covered up for him.”
“This time he pardons Michael Flynn, who lied to hide his dealings with the Russians. Its no surprise that Trump would go out as he came in — Crooked to the end,” he wrote on Twitter.
Schiff led the House investigation of Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president that led to the Democrats’ impeachment of Trump.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who led the House managers in the impeachment trial, said the pardon “is undeserved, unprincipled, and one more stain on President Trump’s rapidly diminishing legacy.”
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