Trump pardons Flynn despite guilty plea in Russia probe

Trump pardons Flynn despite guilty plea in Russia probe

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

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WASHINGTON, USA (AP) — President Donald Trump pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday despite Flynn's guilty plea to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts.

The pardon, coming in the waning days of the Trump administration, takes direct aim at a Russia investigation that he has long insisted was motivated by political bias.

"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!"

Flynn is the second Trump associate convicted in the Russia probe to be granted clemency by the president. Trump commuted the sentence of longtime confidant Roger Stone just days before he was to report to prison. It is part of a broader effort to undo the results of an investigation that for years has shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half dozen associates.
The action voids the criminal case against Flynn just as a federal judge was weighing, skeptically, whether to grant a Justice Department request to dismiss the prosecution.

A senior Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official said the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn. The official was not authorised to discuss internal discussions publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The move, coming as Trump winds down his single term, is likely to energise supporters who have taken up the case as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution. Trump himself has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn, even though special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors once praised him as a model cooperator in their probe into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.

Democrats lambasted the pardon, calling it undeserved and unprincipled.
"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," 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 over the last year after the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should have never been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have US District Justice Emmet Sullivan refuse the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position.


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