In his 43-page opinion, Sullivan critiquedTrump’s pardon of Flynn, however, calling it “extraordinarily broad.” He noted that the pardon does not make Flynn innocent. Flynn had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in early 2017.
"[A] pardon does not necessarily render ‘innocent’ a defendant of any alleged violation of the law," Sullivan wrote. “Indeed, the Supreme Court has recognized that the acceptance of a pardon implies a ‘confession’ of guilt.”
And, as an apparent last word on the case, Sullivan criticized the Justice Department’s reasoning to want to dismiss Flynn’s case, calling it a pretext and not in line with legal standards.
The judge’s analysis lands as speculation mounts in Washington about pardons Trump might give in his last days in office and a recent revelation that the Justice Department was investigating but hadn’t charged anyone with a possible pardon-bribery scheme related to the Trump White House.
Trump tweeted his thanks to Sullivan on Tuesday afternoon after the ruling. “Thank you and congratulations to General Flynn,” the President wrote. “He and his incredible family have suffered greatly!”