WASHINGTON (CN) — President Donald Trump’s pardon for Michael Flynn absolves the former national security adviser of the charge of lying to the FBI but also sweeps his slate clean of a breadth of possible future charges.
The Justice Department released the official pardon Monday evening, following its announcement by the president on Twitter last week and asked a federal court in Washington to dismiss Flynn’s case as moot.
The government wrote the “full and unconditional pardon” clears Flynn of “any and all possible offenses” arising from facts uncovered by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Trump’s reprieve for Flynn — his first act of clemency during the lame duck period — goes beyond Flynn’s single false statement charge and broadly exonerates him of a wide range of additional criminal charges that could possibly be brought once President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
Flynn pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI about his contact with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. After delaying his sentence by cooperating with federal agents investigating Russia interference in the 2016 election, Flynn sought to withdraw his guilty plea, accusing the government of misconduct.
The pardon also frees Flynn from “any possible future perjury or contempt charge in connection with General Flynn’s sworn statements and any other possible future charge that this Court or the court-appointed amicus has suggested might somehow keep this criminal case alive over the government’s objection,” the Justice Department wrote.
The Trump administration earlier this year moved to drop the case against Flynn, telling U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan that federal prosecutors no longer found his statements to be “materially false.”
Sullivan did not immediately grant the request, instead appointing retired federal judge John Gleeson to argue against the government's motion. But the Washington judge also asked Gleeson to address why Flynn should not be held in criminal contempt for perjury.
The court-appointed amicus argued Flynn did lie under oath in Sullivan’s courtroom but advised the judge to consider the wrongdoing when sentencing the former top-level White House adviser, rather than launching into a new prosecution.
“I respectfully suggest that the best response to Flynn’s perjury is not to respond in kind. Ordering a defendant to show cause why he should not be held in contempt based on a perjurious effort to withdraw a guilty plea is not what judges typically do,” Gleeson wrote.
The Justice Department said Monday that Sullivan must immediately dismiss the case in light of the presidential pardon and that “no further proceedings are necessary or appropriate.”
The president has accused the FBI and Justice Department of destroying Flynn’s life and claimed his prosecution was a targeted attempt by Obama-era officials to undermine the incoming Trump administration in 2017.
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