Adviser, who pleaded guilty in Russia probe, pardoned by Trump
Outgoing US President Donald Trump on Wednesday pardoned his former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, who admitted twice that he lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in connection to the probe pertaining to Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. Earlier, Trump rewarded pardon to longtime confidant Roger Stone, merely days before he was to be sent to prison. Stone was also convicted in the Russia probe.
In merely 24-days of getting top job, Flynn was fired
Flynn was Trump's first NSA but was fired merely 24 days later after a controversy emerged over his links with Russia's Ambassador to US, Sergei Kislyak. A former Army general, Flynn interacted with Kislyak in the weeks before Trump's inauguration in 2017. An investigation, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was launched to ascertain if Trump's campaign colluded with Russia for favorable 2016 results.
Flynn discussed sanctions levied by Obama with Russia's envoy
Flynn lied to the FBI saying he hadn't discussed the sanctions which ex-President Barack Obama had levied on Russia "for election interference." He told the then-Russia envoy that "we can have a better conversation" about ties after Trump takes charge. In February 2017, news broke that Flynn discussed sanctions with Kislyak. In fact, officials from the Obama administration warned he could also be blackmailed.
After cooperating initially, Flynn went back on his stand
The ex-Army general was among the few Trump aides to admit guilt; he even cooperated extensively with Muller prompting the prosecutors to suggest fine, and not prison time, for him. However, later Flynn went back on his story, claiming that prosecutors had forced him to lie about his discussions with Kislyak. In December 2019, US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan had rejected his claims.
Prosecutors wanted at least six months prison time for Flynn
This January, federal prosecutors sought a minimum of six months of prison time for Flynn saying he hasn't learned any lesson. "He has behaved as though the law does not apply to him, and as if there are no consequences for his actions," they said. Then in May, the Justice Department, surprisingly, said that the FBI should never have interviewed Flynn.
After tit-for-tat orders, matter landed in Sullivan's court, again!
Adding to the murky twists of the case, a three-judge panel ordered Sullivan to suspend the case, but that order was overturned by a full appeals court. In September, during a hearing presided by Sullivan, Flynn's lawyer, Sidney Powell, said she discussed the case with Trump. She added she wasn't seeking pardon for Flynn and wanted courts to vindicate him, instead.
Great honor to announce Flynn's pardon: Trump
Now, Trump's pardon junks the possibility of a criminal case against Flynn. Announcing the move, he tweeted, "It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon." Saying that Flynn should have never been prosecuted, White House added, "The Department of Justice has firmly concluded that the charges against General Flynn should be dropped."
Trump wished a fantastic Thanksgiving to Flynn and his family
Have a great life General Flynn! https://t.co/Qj21mnMP0k— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2020
It is a brazen abuse of power: Pelosi lambasted Trump
Powell called the pardon "bittersweet," saying Flynn was innocent. Meanwhile, Trump's decision, in his last days at the White House, was derided by Democrats, with House speaker Nancy Pelosi saying it "is an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power." "This pardon is undeserved, unprincipled, and one more strain on Trump's rapidly diminishing legacy," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler.