President Donald Trump Pardons Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn
Do you agree or disagree with Trump’s pardon of Michael Flynn?
What’s the story?
- President Donald Trump on Wednesday tweeted that he is granting a full pardon to his former national security adviser, retired General Michael Flynn:
- Flynn was appointed as national security adviser on January 23, 2017, but on February 13, 2017, Flynn resigned after it emerged that he misled FBI officials and Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition, which have since been declassified.
- Flynn admitted that he lied about those conversations, pleaded guilty to charges that he made false statements, and cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He has since sought to withdraw the guilty plea, citing evidence that was only provided by the DOJ after he entered his plea, and claiming that the DOJ threatened his son and sought to bankrupt him with their prosecution.
- The Dept. of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would withdraw the charges against Flynn after it reviewed the newly discovered and disclosed information, which included a handwritten note by a senior FBI official detailing the law enforcement agency’s intent in holding the interview on January 24, 2017, in which Flynn made false statements:
“What’s our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”
- The FBI’s investigation of Flynn began in 2016 as a counterintelligence probe into alleged collusion between Flynn and Russian contacts, which the agency considered closing after it found “no derogatory information” but continued as an investigation into possible violations of the Logan Act.
- The Logan Act is an obscure law enacted in 1799 that has only been used in two criminal prosecutions, neither of which yielded a conviction. Critics contend that the Logan Act is an unconstitutional infringement of the First Amendment right to free speech, including speech with members of foreign governments. The continuation of the FBI’s investigation under the auspices of a potential Logan Act violation led to the January 24th interview with Flynn.
- The revelations prompted the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) to move to drop the charges on the grounds that the FBI interview was “untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn” and was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”
- In response to the motion to dismiss, D.C. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan took the unusual step of appointing an amicus to stand in for the prosecution and argue for upholding the guilty plea, and a hearing on the motion to dismiss was delayed until July 16th. That led Flynn’s defense team to seek relief & immediate dismissal from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
- A panel from the circuit court upheld the motion to dismiss, but the full court declined to follow suit and allowed Sullivan to move forward with re-examining whether Flynn’s charges should be dismissed. Trump’s pardon of Flynn makes the issue before the court moot.
What They're Saying
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tweeted:
"What happened to @GenFlynn was a national disgrace. No American should ever be targeted for simply belonging to a certain political party. President @realDonaldTrump is right to pardon the respected three-star general."
- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) released a statement which read in part:
"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."
— Eric Revell
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