White House

Trump Pardons Michael Flynn, Former National Security Adviser

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn arrives for his sentencing hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., December 18, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Trump announced Wednesday he has pardoned his former national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, ending a years-long legal battle with the government that began with the Russia investigation.

“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon,” Trump said in a tweet. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”

The pardon comes three years after Flynn pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI regarding his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Trump fired the retired three-star general after discovering that he made contradictory statements to Vice President Mike Pence about whether he had discussed sanctions with Kislyak.

The case against Flynn came from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. Flynn was the only member of the Trump administration to be charged as part of the investigation.

In January, however, Flynn requested to withdraw his guilty plea, and his February sentencing hearing was canceled.

“I did not lie to them. I believed I was honest with them to the best of my recollection at the time,” Flynn said in a January legal filing. “I still don’t remember if I discussed sanctions on a phone call with Ambassador Kislyak nor do I remember if we discussed the details of a UN vote on Israel.”

“I tried to ‘accept responsibility’ by admitting to offenses I understood the government I love and trusted said I committed,” Flynn added.

The Justice Department later requested that the case against Flynn be dismissed, as Flynn’s FBI Interview in January 2017 was “untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn” and “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”

Judge Emmet Sullivan, the federal judge overseeing the case, has not yet ruled on whether to drop the charges against Flynn.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D.,N.Y.) on Wednesday called the pardon “undeserved, unprincipled, and one more stain on President Trump’s rapidly diminishing legacy.”

“Michael Flynn was fired from the White house for lying to senior officials,” Nadler said in a statement. “He pleaded guilty — twice — to lying to federal investigators about his communications with a foreign adversary. Flynn’s agreement to cooperate with the government in exchange for those guilty pleas seemed light to some, given reports that Flynn and his son had engaged in far more disturbing criminal activity.” 

Nadler claimed Trump had “dangled this pardon to encourage Flynn to backtrack on his pledge to cooperate with federal investigators — cooperation that might have exposed the President’s own wrongdoing.” 

He continued: “The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the President. Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. President-Elect Biden will soon take office and restore a measure of honor to the Office of the President. Between now and then we must be vigilant to additional abuses of power, even as we look with hope to days to come.”

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