President Trump is planning to pardon former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to people familiar with the discussions that happened this week.
Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI twice, has been in the middle of a legal battle since admitting his wrongdoing and seeking to withdraw one of his pleas back in January. The retired Army lieutenant general was the only former White House official to plead guilty in the inquiry led by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russia’s election interference.
Part of the challenge for Flynn was changed to his legal team last year. He claims he never lied to investigators and was targeted by federal officials. His lawyers called the process an “ambush-interview” by FBI agents seeking to entrap him.
Trump has used Flynn’s situation and his own involvement in the Mueller investigation for political motivation, calling it a “hoax” and “witch hunt” several times on Twitter, along with echoing the same words at public rallies and when questioned by reporters.
“What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!” Trump tweeted in April. The tweet came weeks before Trump and Justice Department sought to dismiss the charges against Flynn. An unprecedented and coordinated move to openly obstruct justice and undermine the U.S. judicial system.
The expected pardon of Flynn is likely to be the first for his closest advisors before Trump leaves Washington next year. Many of whom have been embroiled in corruption and scandal since the president took office four years ago.
According to the New York Times, Flynn, 61, served just 24 days as Trump’s national security adviser before the president fired him in February 2017 for lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak.
While presidents do not need the approval to pardon anyone, the process is customary to consult the department’s pardon office before issuing them. People close to the President say he has yet to consult with anyone in the department nor pardoned people who have been vetted by the department’s pardons office.
The news of Trump’s intentions came as President-Elect Biden and his cabinet work on their plans for a seamless transition with the existing administration. This was the first time both sides have come together since the election was decided nearly three weeks ago.
Trump did make a public appearance to preside over the annual White House turkey pardon on Tuesday. One of the few times the exiting president has been seen this month. Trump ignored questions from reporters as he left event.