US District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Tuesday dismissed the criminal case against former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn after President Trump pardoned him.
A one-page document issued by Sullivan says the case is “dismissed as moot.”
Sullivan refused to drop the case in May when the Justice Department said it was no longer interested in pursuing Flynn, after Attorney General William Barr found the FBI had no valid reason to interview Flynn days into Trump’s presidency.
The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in August said Sullivan did not have to dismiss the case and he had not issued an official ruling one way or the other when Trump issued a Thanksgiving week pardon.
The pardon document expansively shields Flynn from “any and all possible offenses arising from the facts set forth … or that might arise, or be charged, claimed or asserted” from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Trump allies and Flynn supporters accused Sullivan of usurping the role of prosecutors by resisting the Justice Department. Shortly before he dismissed the case, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted, “Judge Sullivan should be impeached for gross abuse of power.”
Flynn was fired by Trump in February 2017 for allegedly lying to Vice President Mike Pence about presidential transition calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to FBI agents about the content of those calls, but later sought to withdraw his plea.
In pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, Flynn agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation of Trump and admitted that he also worked as an unregistered agent of Turkey. Mueller later found no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.
Flynn business partner Bijan Rafiekian was convicted last year on charges related to their work for Turkey and faced up to 15 years in prison before his conviction was overturned.
The Justice Department moved to retry Rafiekian and without the expansive pardon language, Flynn could have faced prosecution too.
FBI agents including disgraced anti-Trump official Peter Strzok accused Flynn of lying about discussing sanctions and a UN vote with Kislyak. Flynn said he did not intentionally lie and defenders point out that the FBI had transcripts of the calls.
Transcripts of the calls between Flynn and Kislyak, released in May, show Flynn did discuss sanctions and the UN vote. But Republicans said the transcripts show “there was nothing improper” about the substance of the calls, which Flynn made with the knowledge of other Trump transition officials.