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Citing Pardon, Justice Dept. Asks Judge to ‘Immediately’ Dismiss Flynn Case

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department asked a federal judge on Monday to dismiss the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, citing his pardon last week — and making clear that it broadly covered potential legal troubles beyond the charge Mr. Flynn had faced of lying to federal investigators.

“The president’s pardon, which General Flynn has accepted, moots this case,” the Justice Department filing said.

Mr. Flynn had twice pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations in late 2016, during the Trump presidential transition, with the Russian ambassador to the United States. His original plea deal also covered legal liability for other potential charges related to his work as an unregistered foreign agent of Turkey in 2016.

But Mr. Flynn — whose case became a cause for Mr. Trump and his supporters as they attacked the Trump-Russia investigation led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III — sought to change his plea to not guilty. And Attorney General William P. Barr asked the judge, Emmet G. Sullivan of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, to dismiss the case in a highly unusual about-face for the Justice Department.

But the judge instead began a review of the request’s legitimacy, appointing an outside critic — John Gleeson, a former federal judge and mafia prosecutor — who portrayed Mr. Barr’s move as a lawless abuse of power to show special favor to a presidential ally, and urged Judge Sullivan to instead proceed to sentencing Mr. Flynn.

Last week, with Judge Sullivan yet to issue any ruling, Mr. Trump instead pardoned his former aide, taking political responsibility for ending the case. As a result, the Justice Department said in a new filing, the entire matter is moot.

The filing was accompanied by the text of the pardon itself, which had not previously been released. While Mr. Trump had said on Twitter that he was granting Mr. Flynn a “full” pardon, he left unclear how far that would go in terms of any potential legal jeopardy for Mr. Flynn over other matters for which he had not been charged.

The pardon, however, was written broadly not only to cover lying to the F.B.I., but to foreclose any legal jeopardy Mr. Flynn might face from a future Justice Department arising from the Turkey matter, his inconsistent statements under oath to Judge Sullivan and any potential perjury or false statements to Mr. Mueller’s team or to the grand juries it used.

In a three-page filing accompanying the pardon, the Justice Department emphasized to Judge Sullivan that the language covered “any possible future perjury or contempt charge in connection with General Flynn’s sworn statements and any other possible future charge” that the judge or Mr. Gleeson “has suggested might somehow keep this criminal case alive over the government’s objection.”

Judge Sullivan did not immediately file a response to the new motion to dismiss, and Mr. Gleeson did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Andrew Weissmann, a former member of the special counsel team who was not directly involved in prosecuting Mr. Flynn, condemned the Trump administration’s handling of the case after Mr. Mueller’s office shut down.

“Trump issued the pardon only after Barr debased the Department of Justice by filing a disingenuous motion to dismiss,” Mr. Weissmann said. “Sullivan will have the opportunity to weigh in on his view of all this when he grants the motion to dismiss based on the full pardon.”

But the Justice Department filing signaled that under the Trump administration, at least, the Flynn matter is closed.

“No further proceedings are necessary or appropriate, as the court must immediately dismiss the case with prejudice,” it said.

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