President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he had granted a pardon to former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his Russia contacts, only to later seek to retract it.
‘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!’ Trump wrote.
Trump announced the pardon minutes after calling into a hearing-style event where he said he ‘won’ the election and called for it to be ‘overturned.’
He has long championed Flynn and used his prosecution to make the case that the FBI ‘spied’ on his campaign – although back in 2017 he fired Flynn after just weeks on the job after it was revealed he did not disclose his contacts with Russia’s former ambassador to the U.S. to Vice President Mike Pence.
In a tweet almost three years ago – long before the Mueller probe Flynn cooperated with would wrap up and the House would impeach him, Trump wrote: ‘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!’
Flynn was on the job for just 24 days before Trump fired him.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigator would later speak to his utility and cooperation in their investigation of the Russia probe.
Federal prosecutors at first sought leniency, but ultimately sought up to six months in jail time after Flynn asserted prosecutorial misconduct and would later seek to reverse his plea.
‘It is clear that the defendant has not learned his lesson. He has behaved as though the law does not apply to him, and as if there are no consequences for his actions,’ according to a federal filing.
President Trump is considering a pardon for former National Security Advisor Mike FlynnT
Even after Flynn’s change of course, Judge Emmett Sullivan sought to probe the issue and brought on an outside advocate to make the case against after the government no longer sought prosecution.
He had yet to issue a final decision on the matter.
A three-judge panel ordered Judge Sullivan to dismiss the case, but that ruling got overturned on appeal to the full circuit.
Flynn’s lawyer as he sought to change course, Sidney Powell, told the judge she had discussed the case with Trump.
As it turns out, Trump’s campaign announced days ago that Powell was not representing the Trump campaign – although she appeared at a bizarre press conference last Thursday with Rudy Giuliani alleging voter fraud.
Flynn tweeted a bible verse in response.
‘Jeremiah 1:19,’ he wrote. The bible says: ”And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee, for I am with thee,’ saith the Lord, ‘to deliver thee.’
With talk of a pardon bubbling, House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff on Wednesday compared Trump to a mob boss.
‘Imagine what people around the world think when we have a president who’s acting like an organized crime figure,’ Schiff said.
‘But this is who Donald Trump is. It’s who he was on the way into the presidency. It will be exactly who he is on his last days of the presidency,’ he told CNN.
He said Trump’s conduct ‘reflects so ill on our democracy, on the United States.’
He made the comments as Trump sent a signal that he might act, retweeting author Svetlana Lohhova, who had put up a tweet Tuesday night complaining about the pace of the Flynn case.
‘Judge Sullivan was supposed to proceed ‘with dispatch’ (in a quick and efficient way) in Gen Flynn’s case. Three months have passed since…’ she wrote.
Lokhova, a Russia-born academic, was among a group of people who met with Flynn at the University of Cambridge in the UK in an encounter that had people on the internet accusing her of being part of a honeytrap organized by Russia. She has vociferously denied being a spy. ‘Absolutely not,’ she told the BBC. ‘I have no formal or informal connection with Russian intelligence whatsoever.’ The meeting gained scrutiny after Trump fired Flynn after just days on the job in 2017. The dinner involved a former top British intelligence official and Flynn, who was then the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Schiff spoke a day after the network reported a pardon for Flynn and others was under consideration, potentially soon.
On Monday, the Trump Administration finally issued an ascertainment allowing the transition to begin, moving Trump toward lame duck status, although he continues to say the election was ‘rigged’ and is pursuing legal efforts.
Trump has issued clemency for longtime advisor Roger Stone, and on Wednesday retweeted a post about the pace of Flynn’s case
Schiff compared Trump to a mob boss. This undated file photo shows Mafia Boss John Gotti, aka ‘The Dapper Don,’ right, with Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano
Joseph Servidio, aka ‘Joey Electric,’ age 60; / Federal prosecutors said Monday that the 15 defendants are members or associates of the La Cosa Nostra crime family, which is known as the mafiaGroup is accused of using its reputation and influence to control criminal rackets, like bookmaking and loansharking in Philadelphia and Atlantic City. Schiff spoke days after the throw-back indictment of alleged mob figures
Schiff accused Trump of seeking to reward people who ‘lie on his behalf.’ The movie ‘The Godfather: Part II’, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, delved into the code of ‘omerta,’ where mafia members would protect the boss at great personal cost
Trump also took part in the traditional pardoning of the national Thanksgiving turkey on Tuesday.
Flynn originally pleaded guilty to lying to FBI about his Russia contacts, then reversed course and sought to have the charges thrown out, which Bill Barr’s Justice Department ultimately moved to do.
He is now represented by Sidney Powell, the former Trump campaign lawyer who the campaign now says is not part of the team, who vowed to unleash ‘the Kraken’ and put forth bizarre conspiracy theories about about vote-rigging in the U.S. election connected to Venezuela, China and Cuba.
Trump has long said he believed Flynn was mistreated, and claims the FBI ‘spied’ on his 2016 campaign.
Schiff’s mob reference came a day after a throw-back bust of Philadelphia mob figures, with a grand jury indictment that mentioned Anthony ‘Tony Meatballs’ Gifoli, 72 and alleged underboss underboss Steven ‘Stevie’ Mazzone. The Feds alleged they took part in a heroin-dealing and loan-sharking operation.
Schiff referenced said Trump was demonstrating that ‘If you lie on his behalf, if you over up for him, he will reward you, he will protect you,’ and likened it to the mob’s code of protecting those who keep silent and punishing those who tell secrets to authorities.
A president’s pardon authority is extensive, and there has even been talk Trump could try to pardon himself.
‘With respect to Mike Flynn he may have the power to provide a pardon,’ Schiff said. Trump gave clemency to longtime political advisor Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress.
‘I will not do what this president does and use the Justice Department as my vehicle to insist that something happen,’ President-elect Joe Biden told NBC News
President-elect Joe Biden told NBC’s Lester Holt he would not push his own Justice Department to go after Trump, with some Democrats calling for probes.
‘Some Democrats want investigations go to forward against President Trump after he leaves office. Do you support that?’ Holt asked Biden.
Biden responded: ‘I will not do what this president does and use the Justice Department as my vehicle to insist that something happen.’
‘There are a number of investigations that I’ve read about that are at a state level. There’s nothing at all I can or cannot do about that,’ he added.