Trump pardons former adviser Flynn, who pleaded guilty in Russia probe
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Wednesday pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.hat General
Trump’s pardon, which could be the first of several after he lost the 2020 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden, drew condemnation from Democrats and other critics.
A retired Army general, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about interactions he had with Russia’s ambassador to the United States in the weeks leading up to Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.
He has since sought to withdraw the plea, arguing that prosecutors violated his rights and duped him into a plea agreement. His sentencing has been deferred several times.
“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!” Trump wrote on Twitter, a day before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, who told a court in September she personally asked Trump not to pardon her client, said the pardon was “bittersweet” because Flynn was innocent
Trump’s move was the highest-profile pardon he has granted since he took office. Among others, the Republican president has pardoned Army personnel accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and Joe Arpaio, a former Arizona sheriff and hardliner against illegal immigration.
“This pardon is undeserved, unprincipled, and one more stain on President Trump’s rapidly diminishing legacy,” House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power.”
Flynn served as Trump’s first national security adviser but the president fired him after only 24 days for lying to Vice President Mike Pence as controversy broke over the former general’s contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
Flynn was one of several former Trump aides to plead guilty or be convicted at trial in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election to boost Trump’s candidacy. Russia denied meddling.
In May, Attorney General William Barr stunned many in the legal community by ordering prosecutors to have the case dropped, a decision that came after Trump repeatedly complained that Flynn was being treated unfairly.
Flynn and the Trump administration said U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who presided over the case, was required by law to grant the request for dismissal. An appeals court in August denied Flynn’s request to order Sullivan to end the case.
“The President has pardoned General Flynn because he should never have been prosecuted,” the White House said in a statement. “In fact, the Department of Justice has firmly concluded that the charges against General Flynn should be dropped. This Full Pardon achieves that objective, finally bringing to an end the relentless, partisan pursuit of an innocent man.”
The president has spent the days since the Nov. 3 election seeking to overturn the results and refusing to concede to Biden. On Monday, he allowed his administration to take part in a transition to a Biden White House, but he has continued to challenge the election’s legitimacy. With less than two months before Inauguration Day, he could focus his remaining time in office on more pardons and other moves to burnish his legacy.
Two former White House officials said more pardons were likely. “”This is one unfettered presidential power the president enjoys using,” one of them said.