Donald Trump is planning to pardon his disgraced national security adviser Michael Flynn, Axios reported Tuesday.
Flynn twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about dealings with Russia’s ambassador before Trump took office but has yet to be sentenced.
He sought to withdraw the guilty plea in January, arguing that prosecutors violated his rights and duped him into a plea agreement.
The president is said to have told confidants he plans to pardon Flynn, and others, before he leaves office. Sources told CNN Trump could yet change his mind.
Donald Trump is planning to pardon his disgraced national security adviser Michael Flynn, Axios reported Tuesday. Flynn is pictured in 2018
Trump has not been shy about using his pardon power to help political allies and those he believes have been wronged by an out-of-control justice system.
Trump in March said he was strongly considering a full pardon for Flynn. He said the FBI and Justice Department had “destroyed” Flynn’s life and that of his family.
He tweeted in April: ‘What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!’
If Trump does grant a reprieve to Flynn, it would be the highest-profile pardon issued by the president since he took office.
The president commuted the sentence of associate Roger Stone earlier this year saying he had been the victim of a political witch hunt after he was also charged in the Mueller investigation.
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was charged under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Flynn pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI about his conversations before Trump took office with Sergei Kislyak, who was then Russia’s ambassador to the United States, concerning U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia under President Barack Obama.
Trump, left, jokes with retired Gen. Michael Flynn at a 2016 rally. Trump has not been shy about using his pardon power to help political allies and those he believes have been wronged by an out-of-control justice system
In September Flynn’s lead attorney Sidney Powell, who last week appeared alongside Rudy Giuliani at a press conference into election fraud, told a federal judge that she had discussed the case with the president and asked him not to pardon Flynn.
At the same hearing, U.S. Justice Department lawyers denied any corruption or political motives in efforts to get the federal criminal case against Flynn dropped.
In May, Attorney General William Barr stunned many in the legal community by ordering prosecutors to have the case dropped, a decision that came after Trump repeatedly complained that Flynn was being treated unfairly.
Critics have accused Barr of giving special treatment to Trump allies such as Flynn and Trump’s longtime friend and supporter Stone.
Powell downplayed a letter she sent to Barr and Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in June of 2019, in which she complained that the FBI had tried to entrap her client and asked the department to appoint new government lawyers to preside over the case.
When Sullivan asked whether she felt her letter to Barr was ethical, Powell replied: ‘Perfectly.’
The Trump administration sought to distance itself from Powell on Thursday, insisting she is ‘not a member’ of their legal team after she spread a series of wild and unfounded conspiracy theories about election fraud.
Michael Flynn, former U.S. national security adviser, and lawyer Sidney Powell, left, exit federal court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, June 24, 2019
Flynn has emerged as something of a cause célèbre for Trump supporters, while critics of Barr’s action — including former FBI and Justice Department officials — have decried what they see as the politicization of law enforcement in the move to drop the case.
He has twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about a conversation with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period in December 2016, when he encouraged the diplomat not to escalate tensions over sanctions that had just been imposed by the Obama administration for election interference.
At the time, the FBI was investigating whether the Trump campaign had coordinated with Russia to tip the election in Trump’s favor.
But the Justice Department moved in May to dismiss the case, saying there had been insufficient basis to interview Flynn and that the questioning of Flynn and the statements he made were not relevant to the FBI’s broader counterintelligence investigation into the campaign and Russia.
Trump and Flynn walk through the atrium of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in September 2016. Flynn has emerged as something of a cause célèbre for Trump supporters
Powell added her own criticism in September, calling the case and the way it was handled a ‘hideous abuse of power that continues until this very minute.’
‘This is the most egregious injustice I have ever seen in my 30-plus years of practice’, she said.
Lawyers for the federal government had cited what they said was internal uncertainty within the FBI about whether Flynn had even committed a crime, as well as questions about the credibility of law enforcement officials in the case.
Federal prosecutor Ken Kohl referenced the actions of Peter Strzok, an FBI agent who interviewed Flynn but was later fired from the bureau because of pejorative texts about Trump, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired amid allegations that he misled the Justice Department’s inspector general over a news media disclosure.