Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, the presiding federal judge in the trial of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon Gen. Flynn did not mean that the retired general was actually innocent…

The ruling from Judge Emmet Sullivan formally ends Flynn’s three-year legal saga, which began with a plea deal the retired Army general entered on Dec. 1, 2017 in the special counsel’s probe of foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Sullivan had for months resisted the Justice Department’s efforts to toss out Flynn’s case.

Attorney General William Barr, who spearheaded the effort to drop charges against Flynn, had said in interviews that he believed that the FBI under James Comey had set a “perjury trap” for Flynn during an interview which led to his plea deal.

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Sullivan recently filed an appeal to the federal appeals court to force the Justice Department to turn over evidence supporting its motion to drop the case against Flynn.

Sullivan said in a 43-page ruling that he would likely not have approved a Justice Department motion to withdraw charges against Flynn if not for the Trump pardon. He also asserted that clemency for Flynn did not indicate that he was innocent of charges in his criminal case.

“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,” Sullivan wrote.

Sen. Tom Cotton tweeted, “This opinion reads like the delusional ramblings of a Resistance lawyer afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome. Judge Sullivan has demonstrated blatant bias and injudicious temperament throughout this case. He has no business remaining on the federal bench.”

Sullivan quoted a ruling in another case to say that the pardon does not by itself “render [Flynn] innocent of the alleged violation.”

Trump issued a broad pardon for Flynn on Nov. 25, saying that he was wrongfully targeted in the special counsel’s investigation.

In the pardon order, Trump said that Flynn could not face criminal liability for any crimes investigated by the special counsel’s office, or grand juries in Washington, D.C. and Virginia. The order seemingly protects Flynn from prosecution for lobbying work he did in 2016 for the Turkish government.

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