A federal trial judge says President Donald Trump’s pardon of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may be far “too broad,” which could mean that the pardon would be ruled invalid. If that happened, Flynn would still face incarceration for lying to the FBI under oath.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton made his remarks during a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) hearing on Friday during which attorneys argued for a release of documents from the investigation conducted by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed:
Judge Walton made his remarks to Jacqueline Thomsen of Law.com, noting:
“U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said at a hearing Friday that he doesn’t think U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, his colleague presiding over the Flynn case, ‘has a lot of options in reference to what he does’ after the pardon was granted, ‘unless he takes the position that the wording of the pardon is too broad, in that it provides protections beyond the date of the pardon.’
“’I don’t know what impact that would have, what decision he would make, if he makes that determination that the pardon of Mr. Flynn is for a period that the law does not permit. I don’t know if that’s correct or not,’ the judge continued. ‘Theoretically, the decision could be reached because the wording in the pardon seems to be very, very broad. It could be construed, I think, as extending protections against criminal prosecutions after the date the pardon was issued.’
“’I don’t know if Judge Sullivan will make that determination or not,’ Walton added.”
Trump’s pardon of Flynn protects him from “any and all possible offenses” contained in the criminal information against him. It also claims to shield him from charges that “might arise, or be charged, claimed, or asserted.”
It remains to be seen exactly what Judge Sullivan will do regarding the pardon when the case reaches him sometime later this month. If he rules it to be invalidated, such a finding would likely be appealed, perhaps reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.