Michael Flynn, the long-suffering former Trump national security advisor, finally experienced closure on Dec. 8 as the judge presiding over his case dismissed it as moot in light of a presidential pardon. It must have been galling for Judge Emmet Sullivan, who had appeared determined to punish Flynn after his sham conviction for lying to federal agents over a series of December 2016 phone calls with the Russian ambassador.
Flynn’s four-year ordeal at the hands of a group of senior FBI officials – almost all of whom were subsequently fired or resigned in disgrace – was symbolic of the politically motivated persecution that has dogged Trump and many of his staff and associates since he became president-elect in 2016.
The Case That Wouldn’t Die
Even though an FBI Closing Communication in early 2017 recommended that the Flynn investigation, called Crossfire Razor, be terminated, then-FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, and Joe Biden – Barack Obama’s vice president at the time – were determined to go after the former Army general.
FBI agents showed up uninvited at the White House just as the Trump administration was settling in. They interviewed Flynn without telling him that he was the target of an investigation. When Flynn failed to accurately recount certain details of his phone calls with the Russian ambassador, he was charged with lying to the agents – even though the FBI men themselves later stated that they did not think Flynn had deliberately misled them.
Later, Flynn was practically strong-armed into pleading guilty by prosecutors from Robert Mueller’s special counsel team. They implied to the general that they were considering going after his son for a violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act but would back off if Flynn agreed to plead guilty.
As the case dragged on, Justice Department prosecutors finally declined to move forward with the case. Even then, though, Sullivan would not let it go. He refused to dismiss Flynn’s case and even brought in a retired judge to argue for the case’s continuation. Flynn himself attempted unsuccessfully to get the case dismissed.
President Trump granted Flynn a full pardon shortly before Thanksgiving. It appears that even the dogged Sullivan was unable to justify continuing the proceedings. Flynn has finally been released from the years-long torment he endured for no other reason than that he supported and later worked for Trump.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.