Dec. 8 (UPI) — A federal judge on Tuesday formally dismissed former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s criminal case two weeks after President Donald Trump pardoned him.
The order ended a three-year long case in which Flynn pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI in the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Flynn later rescinded his plea.
District Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia said that though the retired U.S. Army lieutenant general received a pardon, it doesn’t mean he’s not guilty of the crime.
“President Trump’s decision to pardon Mr. Flynn is a political decision, not a legal one,” Sullivan wrote in his order. “Because the law recognizes the president’s political power to pardon, the appropriate course is to dismiss the case as moot.
“However, the pardon ‘does not, standing alone, render [Mr. Flynn] innocent of the alleged violation.'”
Trump began publicly hinting at pardoning Flynn in March, suggesting the FBI and Justice Department had lost some of Flynn’s records related to the case.
Flynn originally pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but withdrew the guilty plea Jan. 14, stating prosecutors broke an agreement for his cooperation when they requested he receive jail time instead of probation.
His sentencing hearing then was indefinitely suspended in February, after his lawyers said the prosecution was unable to produce an internal Justice Department memo clearing Flynn of being a Russian agent.
Flynn was fired as Trump’s national security adviser after 22 days.
Daniel Uria contributed to this report.