Former Ohio Governor John Kasich shocked the CNN board on Wednesday when the network condemned wall-to-wall Trump President Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser, for his former pardon.
Months after the Justice Department tried to reject Flynn’s guilty plea stemming from the Russian investigation, Trump confirmed reports that he had sought pardon for a former White House helper.
“It is a great honor for me to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has received full grace,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and her wonderful family, I know you will have a really fantastic Thanksgiving now!”
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During the panel discussion, Jim Acosta began by noting how prominent Republicans “support this development,” and asked Kasich, a persistent critic of Trump, what his “message to his Republican peers” was.
Kasich’s response wasn’t exactly what Acosta expected.
“Let’s go on,” Kasich replied. “The president has lost [the election]. We are now having a great debate about his graces. Every president can give grace … There will be more grace to come. That’s what the presidents do. I mean, I remember when Bill Clinton was pardoned and people went crazy. This is the power they have! And honestly done! Go away. The transition has begun, let’s move on! “
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Kasich, currently a senior analyst at CNN, described the condemnation of California State Chairman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House’s intelligence committee, as “tough” before stressing that “it’s time to start healing.”
“I mean, tomorrow’s Thanksgiving. Can we go any further?” Kasich asked. “A new administration is coming. I think their early appointment was good, it seems to somehow shrink the country. People are starting to say, ‘You know what, it’s not that bad!’ “And that’s where my head is.”
Acosta, who filled Wolf Blitzer’s regular anchor, “The Situation Room,” intervened in a final effort to have Kasich condemn the pardon.
“But Governor Kasich, if you don’t mind, I could just challenge you a little bit,” Acosta jumped in. You know, Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to federal prosecutors. Does it bother you that he is now receiving full grace?
“Presidents are capable of grace, Jim, and he will do even more grace,” Kasich repeated. “There are other graces that the presidents have made that I did not agree with. I still remember the time when Gerald Ford, you know, was re-elected when he pardoned Richard Nixon. The presidents are doing that!”
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– Should you pardon yourself? Acosta asked, referring to Trump.
“You know, I want to go on,” Kasich snapped. “I want to change the subject. Donald Trump was defeated. He was rejected, okay? They started the transition. Eventually he was forced to do it, and his friends did.” It’s going to do a few things we won’t like, but you know, I’m ready to move on. “
Kasich continued, “I’m not even thinking about Donald Trump right now. I’m thinking of Joe Biden, who he’s going to put in, what his policy is going to be, there’s my head. And it’s not disrespectful to legal beagles. I’m just telling you here that I am, and honestly, I think most Americans will be there. “