Donald Trump pardons Michael Flynn despite guilty plea in Russia probe


Donald Trump pardons Michael Flynn despite guilty plea in Russia probe


WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.

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

The pardon, coming in the waning weeks of Trumps single term, is part of a broader effort by the president to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.

A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.

The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.

In a statement, Flynns family thanked Trump for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation by issuing the pardon.

Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power, while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a pardon by Trump does not erase the truth of Flynns guilty plea, no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.

The Presidents enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump.

The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal governments position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.

That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Departments dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and patently pretextual.

As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.

At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynns case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.

Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of the Trumps efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.

Source: AP

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