WASHINGTON — President Trump announced Wednesday evening that he had issued a full pardon to Gen. Michael Flynn, a former member of his 2016 presidential campaign and a national security adviser in his administration. Flynn had faced charges stemming from false statements he made to the FBI about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon,” Trump wrote on Twitter, adding, “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”
Flynn, who was Trump’s first White House national security adviser, became the second former member of his campaign team to receive a pardon or commutation. In July, Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime adviser Roger Stone, who was found guilty of multiple charges including witness tampering, obstruction and lying to investigators.
Trump’s decision to pardon Flynn will almost certainly add to mounting speculation that he will pardon other allies who are in legal jeopardy. Multiple members of his campaign team and inner circle have faced criminal charges since he took office, including two men who helped lead his 2016 presidential campaign, Steve Bannon and Paul Manafort. Flynn and other Trump associates under legal scrutiny have attained star status from the president’s supporters.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the decision to pardon Flynn.
In late 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn had been fired from the White House earlier that year after it was found he also lied to Vice President Mike Pence about contact with Kislyak. Following his guilty plea, Flynn began cooperating with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller later claimed Flynn had admitted to misrepresenting lobbying work he did on behalf of the Turkish government, though Flynn was not charged in that matter.
Prior to joining forces with Trump, Flynn had a long military career that included a stint as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama. He was forced out in 2014 amid reports of disagreements with colleagues. Flynn eventually became one of Trump’s more prominent surrogates on the campaign trail during the 2016 presidential campaign, emphasizing his military experience and ties to the Democratic administration.
Since last year, Flynn’s attorneys have sought to have his guilty plea reversed and the charges against him dismissed, alleging federal misconduct. Federal prosecutors under Attorney General William Barr also filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Flynn, but U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has been fighting the dismissal.
Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, worked on Trump’s efforts to challenge his defeat in this month’s presidential election before being abruptly disavowed by other members of the president’s legal team on Nov. 22. Powell has said she told Trump “not to issue a pardon” to Flynn and instead to allow the efforts to have his case dismissed continue. Powell did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
Flynn posted a message on his Twitter page Wednesday afternoon shortly before the news of the pardon broke. His message included an American flag emoji and pointed to a Bible verse that says, “‘They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.”
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