Trump pardons ex-National Security Adviser Flynn
Published: 12:45 PM, 26 November 2020 Updated: 02:31 PM, 26 November 2020
President Donald Trump with Michael Flynn
President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he had pardoned Michael Flynn, the former National Security Adviser who lies about his Russian contacts that led to an investigation into Trump’s campaign collusion with Moscow.
The pardon, which was expected, came in the final weeks of Trump’s presidency, two years of which was spent fighting the allegations that “Trump had overseen and sought to cover up a dangerous scheme of cooperation with Russia”.
It was the first of several possible pardons that analysts think Trump could extend to political aides and allies before he steps down on 20 January.
Those could include former 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort, also convicted in the Russia collusion investigation, Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former advisor Steve Bannon, and Roger Stone, who was sentenced for lying.
Thursday’s announcement helped Flynn avoid a potential prison sentence being weighed in a Washington federal court.
“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon,” Trump tweeted.
He wished the retired army lieutenant general a “truly fantastic Thanksgiving!” holiday.
In a broader statement, the White House said the pardon brings “an end the relentless, partisan pursuit of an innocent man.”
The statement said the investigation into Flynn was part of “a coordinated attempt to subvert the election of 2016” and to “undermine (Trump’s) administration at every turn.”
Flynn was initially targeted in an FBI counterintelligence investigation over secret phone calls with the Russian ambassador to the United States in December 2016, after Trump’s election victory but before he took office.
In one key phone call, Flynn sought to undermine the impact of sanctions and expulsions announced by then-president Barack Obama against Moscow for its interference in the 2016 election.
He was forced to resign as Trump’s national security advisor in February 2017, less than four weeks into the administration.
Trump’s efforts to defend and protect Flynn led to the naming of an independent counsel, Robert Mueller, whose investigation into both collusion and obstruction of justice clouded the first half of Trump’s tenure in office.
In late 2017 Flynn reached a deal with investigators and pleaded guilty, twice, to lying to FBI agents, avoiding heftier charges tied to his allegedly illegal lobbying for Turkey.
But after Flynn’s trial exposed some missteps by the FBI and investigators, Trump and his supporters said it was evidence that the entire Mueller probe was politically tainted, Trump labeling it a “witch hunt”. — AFP.