On Wednesday afternoon, Donald Trump announced it was his “Great Honour” to pardon Michael Flynn, the disgraced former national security adviser who during the Mueller investigation pled guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian official.
It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 25, 2020
This reversed his previous course of action, saying in 2017 Mr Flynn’s actions were a “shame.”
I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
Mr Flynn, who only served in the Trump White House for 22 days before resigning, is the first former Trump administration official to get a pardon. It effectively ends the government action against him that began after he agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation, then he withdrew his guilty plea, then the Justice Department sought to drop the prosecution altogether, alleged investigators had mishandled the process.
The move prompted condemnation from top Democrats, like California congressman Adam Schiff, who leads the House intelligence committee.
“Donald Trump has abused the pardon power to reward his friends and political allies, and protect those who lie to cover up for him. This time, Trump has once again abused the pardon power to reward Michael Flynn, who chose loyalty to Trump over loyalty to his country,” Mr. Schiff said in a statement.
In December of 2017, Mr Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI earlier that year during an interview about contacts he’d had with a Russian official during the transition to the Trump administration in late 2016.
He told agents he did not ask then-Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak to avoid a harsh response to recently imposed American sanctions, when in fact he had. He also misrepresented a discussion he had with the ambassador about a UN resolution on Israeli settlements.
Mr Flynn resigned in February of 2017, amid reports that he misrepresented his conversations with the Russian ambassador to senior officials like vice president Mike Pence.
As part of his initial plea agreement, he also admitted he made false statements to the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act about advocacy work he did for the benefit of the Turkish government during the final months of Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, where he was also an adviser.