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Judge Tosses Criminal Case Against Flynn

Trump's pardon doesn't make the former national security adviser innocent, ruling says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 8, 2020 2:46 PM CST

(Newser) – A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the criminal case against former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn, two weeks after a pardon from the president effectively ended the case. The order from US District Judge Emmet Sullivan was largely procedural in light of the pardon from President Trump, which wiped away Flynn's conviction for lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation, the AP reports. Sullivan made clear in a 43-page order that he was compelled to dismiss the case because of the pardon. But he also stressed that a pardon, by itself, did not mean that Flynn was innocent. Flynn had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts during the presidential transition period with the Russian ambassador.

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"The history of the Constitution, its structure, and the Supreme Court's interpretation of the pardon power make clear that President Trump’s decision to pardon Mr. Flynn is a political decision, not a legal one," Sullivan wrote. "Because the law recognizes the President’s political power to pardon, the appropriate course is to dismiss this case as moot." Addressing the issue of whether he'd have ruled the same way if there had been no pardon, per Axios, Sullivan wrote that the Justice Department's reasoning for dropping the charges is "dubious to say the least, arguably overcoming the strong presumption of regularity that usually attaches to prosecutorial decisions."

(Read more Michael Flynn stories.)

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