Throughout a first term defined by investigations into the president and his political allies, the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn stood out as particularly egregious to many Americans.
A U.S. district judge’s long-awaited announcement this week, however, provided some additional closure to years of court battles in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential pardon.
Judge Emmet Sullivan confirmed on Tuesday that he had dropped the longstanding charges against Flynn.
Trump’s pardon came on Nov. 25, providing a clear win for both his former adviser and attorney Sidney Powell, who went on to argue on the president’s behalf on election-related matters after serving as Flynn’s attorney.
Sullivan has served as the judge in the case since 2017 after the Justice Department formally charged Flynn with lying to the FBI. Flynn initially pleaded guilty to lying to two agents but later reversed his plea after Powell came on as his defense attorney.
He had been accused of misleading investigators about a 2016 phone call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to being named national security adviser.
The DOJ wanted the charges against Flynn dropped, as evidenced in an order earlier this year based on “exculpatory evidence that undercut the department’s case” against him.
“Based on the presidential pardon”
Sullivan, however, refused to comply, drawing the battle to its ultimate end with a presidential pardon.
In his final statement on the matter, the judge wrote that his court “GRANTS the government’s consent motion based on the presidential pardon and DISMISSES this case AS MOOT.”
His statement made clear his reluctance to take the step of dropping charges in the case, issuing a few parting shots at both Flynn and Trump.
Accusing Trump of having “not hidden the extent of his interest in the case,” Sullivan also pointed to the Justice Department’s more recent interest in the case, which “raise questions” about the motion to dismiss charges.
Taking aim at Flynn, he described someone “clearly in a position of trust, who claimed that he forgot, within less than a month, that he personally asked for a favor from the Russian Ambassador that undermines the policy of the sitting President prior to the President-elect taking office.”