President Trump is expressing privately to those close to him that he plans to pardon former national-security adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn, a retired three-star general, was fired by Trump after the revelation that he made contradictory statements to Vice President Mike Pence about whether he had discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He pled guilty later in 2017 to making false statements to the FBI regarding his contacts with the Russian ambassador. The case against the former national-security adviser arose from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.
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 sought to have the case against Flynn dismissed, arguing that 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.”
However, the federal judge handling the case, Judge Emmet Sullivan, has yet to rule on whether to drop the charges against Flynn.
Flynn’s lead defense lawyer, Sidney Powell, said Sullivan’s “contempt and disdain for the defense was palpable” at a hearing last month. Until recently, Powell represented Trump’s campaign in its fight to overturn election results in several battleground states. The campaign cut ties with her after she made a far-fetched allegations against the Republican governor of Georgia and other Republicans, accusing them of being complicit in widespread voter fraud that overturned the election results.
In July, Trump commuted the prison sentence of his longtime political confidant Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia.