United States President Donald Trump has pardoned Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, after his involvement in the Russia investigation where the official pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
In a post on social media platform Twitter, Trump said that he was honored to announce his granting of a full pardon to Flynn. He congratulated the suspect and his family before wishing him a happy Thanksgiving holiday.
Trump’s pardon comes in his last weeks as president of the U.S. and is part of a broader attempt to undermine the Russia investigation’s results. The case lingered over his administration and revealed criminal charges on multiple of his associates. Flynn’s pardon also comes a few months after the Republican commuted Roger Stone’s sentence a few days before he was scheduled to go to prison.
An official from the Justice Department said they were not notified or consulted regarding Flynn’s pardon and only learned about the plan on Wednesday. However, the anonymous personnel noted that the U.S. president had the authority to grant legal pardon to anyone he wishes.
Experts believe Trump’s action would strengthen Flynn’s supporters, who previously rallied, claiming the retired Army lieutenant was the victim of the case. They noted that the prosecution was unfair despite the official pleading twice that he was guilty. Trump frequently spoke positively about Flynn, who was previously praised as a model cooperator during the 2016 Trump campaign.
Flynn’s family released a statement thanking Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by granting the official the pardon. However, Democrats have criticized the move saying it was undeserved and unprincipled.
White House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s pardon of Flynn was based on corruption and was an abuse of his authority and power as president of the United States.
Unjust legal action
House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said, “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.” She added that the recent announcement of Joe Biden’s win in the national elections is proof of the people’s rejection of Trump.
White House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said he was not surprised with Trump pardoning Flynn but noted it was nonetheless a crooked act. He said, “Flynn pled guilty to those lies, twice.” Schiff added Trump’s pardon did not erase the truth of the official’s actions, no matter how hard his allies try to cover up for him.
Last May, the Justice Department said the FBI had no authority in interviewing Flynn about Russia’s Sergey Kislyak. The agency added that any discussions between the two officials were not relevant to the bureau’s investigations. The department noted how FBI agents planned to close out Flynn’s case several weeks beforehand, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
In February 2017, Flynn was ousted from his position after it was revealed that he talked with Kislyak about sanctions. Additionally, the former Barack Obama administration officials had warned White House personnel that the former lieutenant was susceptible to being the victim of blackmail.
The Middletown, Rhode Island resident, was one of Trump’s first aides who pleaded guilty during Robert Mueller’s investigation. Flynn provided extensive cooperation to the case that prosecutors did not recommend him to be placed in jail but rather should only be subjected to probation.
However, on the morning that Flynn was to be sentenced, Sullivan rebuked his behavior, causing the retired lieutenant to request the hearing be ended shortly. He said that he wanted to cooperate and potentially get a much more lenient sentence. Later, Flynn hired new attorneys, including Sydney Powell, to represent him during his case.