On Friday, Donald Trump used Twitter to announce that he had pardoned his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon,” he tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”
Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Flynn pleaded guilty in late 2017 and admitted that he had lied to FBI agents about the contact that he had with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn attempted to withdraw his guilty plea earlier this year and alleged misconduct by the FBI agents that had investigated and interviewed him.
Kayleigh McEnany, Trump’s White House press secretary referred to Flynn as “an innocent man” three times during her statements about the pardon. She failed to mention during her comments that Flynn had pleaded guilty not once, but twice.
In December of 2017, Flynn released a statement admitting that he did commit the crimes and that “through my faith in God, I am working to set things right” he added that he was accepting “full responsibility for my actions.”
“The President has pardoned General Flynn because he should never have been prosecuted,” McEnany said in a statement. “An independent review of General Flynn’s case by the Department of Justice — conducted by respected career professionals — supports this conclusion. In fact, the Department of Justice has firmly concluded that the charges against General Flynn should be dropped. This Full Pardon achieves that objective, finally bringing to an end the relentless, partisan pursuit of an innocent man.”
Flynn’s attorneys and the Department of Justice went to court back on Sept. 29 as they continued their push to have Flynn’s guilty plea thrown out.
Former judge John Gleeson had harsh words for the Justice Department in a June filing. He argued that the move to drop the charges against Flynn was a political effort to benefit his close ally, Donald Trump.
“In the United States, Presidents do not orchestrate pressure campaigns to get the Justice Department to drop charges against defendants who have pleaded guilty — twice, before two different judges — and whose guilt is obvious,” Gleeson said. “There is clear evidence that this motion reflects a corrupt and politically motivated favor unworthy of our justice system.”
U.S. Attorney Kenneth Kohl argued on Flynn’s behalf that was not the case.
“The allegations against our office that we would somehow operate, or act with a corrupt political motive just are not true,” Kohl said.
Wednesday’s pardon, which has been rumored to be coming for a couple of weeks now, puts an end to the ongoing court cases surrounding Flynn.
In a statement, an official from the Department of Justice said “the department was not consulted,” but they “were given a heads up today.”
“We would have preferred to see if Judge Sullivan would act and for the matter to be resolved in court,” the official wrote in the statement. “We were confident in the likelihood of our success in the case.”
The official then added, it “is obviously an appropriate use of the president’s pardon power.”
Democrats immediately condemned Trump’s actions. Rep. Adam Schiff called Trump pardoning Flynn “crooked.”
“Donald Trump has abused the pardon power to reward his friends and political allies and protect those who lie to cover up for him,” Schiff, said in a statement. “This time, Trump has once again abused the pardon power to reward Michael Flynn, who chose loyalty to Trump over loyalty to his country.”
“It’s no surprise that Trump would go out just as he came in — crooked to the end,” Schiff added.
Rep. Jerry Nadler also shared his criticism of the pardon.
“This pardon is undeserved, unprincipled, and one more stain on President Trump’s rapidly diminishing legacy,” Nadler said in a statement.
“This pardon is part of a pattern,” Nadler continued. “We saw it before, in the Roger Stone case — where President Trump granted clemency to protect an individual who might have implicated the President in criminal misconduct. We may see it again before President Trump finally leaves office. These actions are an abuse of power and fundamentally undermine the rule of law.”
Flynn was a top advisor during Trump’s 2016 campaign and soon after was named Trump’s first national security advisor on November 18, 2016.
Just four days after Flynn started in his new White House position the Department of Justice’s then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed White House counsel Don McGahn that they were misled and he expressed serious concerns that Russia might try to blackmail Flynn.
On February 13, Flynn resigned after only serving in the position for less than a month. In a letter, he admitted that he did mislead Vice President Mike Pence about the content of his phone conversations with the Russian ambassador.
“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador,” Flynn wrote in the letter. “I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.”