But, he added in his opinion that Trump’s pardon does not mean Flynn is innocent.
In a 43-page decision on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan wrote, “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.”
“Because the law recognizes the President’s political power to pardon, the appropriate course is to dismiss this case as moot. However, the pardon ‘does not, standing alone, render [Mr. Flynn] innocent of the alleged violation,'” he added.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the then-Russian ambassador in 2017. However, earlier this year, he sought to withdraw his guilty plea.
In May, the Department of Justice filed a motion to drop the prosecution of Flynn, as IJR reported.
In its filing, the department said, “We do not believe that the Government can prove either the relevant false statements or their materiality beyond a reasonable doubt.”
However, Sullivan said it was a “close question” as to whether he would have dropped the case without Trump’s pardon. He wrote, “As explained below, the Court finds both stated rationales dubious, to say the least, arguably overcoming the strong presumption of regularity that usually attaches to prosecutorial decisions.”
“Where, as here, the government justifies its motion by ignoring applicable law to now question the strength of its case, substantial doubt arises about the government’s stated reasons for seeking dismissal,” he added.
Trump announced he had granted Flynn a pardon one day before Thanksgiving, as IJR reported.