Trump Pardons Michael Flynn – The New York Times

Washington head of state pardoned Wednesday on National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI over a conversation with a Russian diplomat and whose prosecutor, Attorney General William P. Barr, tried to shut down.

“It is a great honor for me to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has received full grace,” Mr. Trump said. wrote on Twitter.

Presidential grace puts an end to Mr. Flynn’s protracted legal sentence. The Department of Justice set out in the spring to drop the indictment after a public campaign by Trump and his allies, but the judge overseeing the case, Emmet G. Sullivan, maintained the request to examine its legitimacy.

And Mr. Trump he said months ago that he was “firmly considering” Mr. Flynn’s pardon and allegedly planning after the loss of the election, Mr. Barr’s intervention allowed his administration to end the pursuit of presidential favorites without Mr. Trump taking explicit political responsibility for the act.

But as the case dragged on — first delayed by Mr. Flynn’s unsuccessful attempt to prevent Judge Sullivan from reviewing the basis of Mr. Barr’s action in appellate court, and then by the judge’s inaction for weeks to come — Mr. Trump finally moved to do so anyway.

Flynn was the only White House official convicted as part of the Trump-Russia investigation by Robert S. Mueller III. Under Mr Trump and Mr Barr, the administration tried to underestimate and eliminate this investigation. Mr. Trump’s older friend, Roger J. Stone Jr., has also commuted his sentence to seven offenses in a case brought by prosecutors working for Mr. Mueller.

John Gleeson, a former federal judge and mafia prosecutor appointed by Judge Sullivan to criticize the Department of Justice’s attempt to reject the case against Mr Flynn, argued that the alleged basis of the request made no sense and seemed to cover the political motivated favor as presidential favorite. He said Judge Sullivan should rather judge Mr. Flynn – or that Mr. Trump should just grant him pardon.

With that, Mr Trump has now raised this case, meaning that Judge Sullivan is likely to dismiss the case. The pardon rules out the possibility of a new legal confrontation as to whether the judge can convict an accused who pleaded guilty, even though the Department of Justice no longer wanted to pursue the case.

Mr. Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a distinguished lieutenant general, supported Mr. Trump’s campaign early on. He was rewarded when Mr. Trump was appointed National Security Adviser shortly after winning the 2016 election, ignoring warnings from President Barack Obama, who expressed concern about Mr. Flynn’s management of the secret service.

Flynn was also one of the Trump campaign staff who was in contact with Russian officials who were investigated by the FBI at the beginning of the July 2016 deterrence investigation to try to understand Russia’s covert interference in the campaign and whether Trump campaign figures knew about it or intentionally. or otherwise cooperated with him.

It turned out that Mr. Flynn lied to his colleagues about the conversation he had in December 2016 with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. In the calls, Mr Flynn called on Moscow not to step up in response to the sanctions imposed by the outgoing Obama administration on Russia to help Mr Trump due to Russia’s secret election intervention, and raised the possibility of the incoming Trump administration working more closely with Russia.

The pattern of lies raised new suspicions about Mr. Flynn. The FBI sent agents to the White House for an interview, even though consultations with the Department of Justice over whether to tell Mr. Trump’s new White House counselor have not yet been resolved. The notes for the interview-related meeting suggest that the purpose of the interview may have been to find out if Mr. Flynn is lying to FBI agents again, as he did.

Despite Mr. Flynn’s dismissal, Mr. Trump asked the then FBI Director, James B. Comey, to complete a possible investigation into Mr. Flynn. The details of the President’s request were made public a few months later after Mr Trump dismissed Mr Comey and helped facilitate the appointment of Mr Mueller as Special Adviser.

Although Mr Trump initially distanced himself from Mr Flynn, the President later began to denigrate the Flynn case as part of a wider attack on the Russian investigation as part of a “fake”, “witch hunt” and a deep state sabotage plan. him.

Over time, Mr. Flynn’s case became the cause of the right-wing media. Although Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty – as part of the business of being able to solve his responsibilities for working in Turkey without registering as a foreign agent – he later changed course and stopped working with prosecutors.

Mr. Flynn hired a new lawyer, Sidney Powell, who at the time became known for his appearances on Fox News, which laid the groundwork for the Russian investigation, and eventually tried to withdraw his request.

Ms. Powell has joined the Trump legal team in recent weeks in an attempt to wipe out her loss in the 2020 presidential election and put forward an unfounded conspiracy theory that Mr. Trump won the victory for President R with a landslide but fraudulent election software. .Biden Jr. was rejected by the Trump team after making particularly wild accusations that even Republican officials were involved in a payout system.

At the beginning of Mr. Flynn’s representation, Powell wrote to Mr. Barr, stressing the need for confidentiality of communications and advising on a strategy for repeating the senator’s 2008 indictment – also before Judge Sullivan. – whose case the Ministry of Justice sought to dismiss on the basis of a finding of misconduct on the part of the public prosecutor after the conviction but before the judgment was given.

He asked Mr. Barr to appoint an external prosecutor to examine the case file for any material that prosecutors should have handed over to the defense. After Judge Sullivan rejected the conspiracy theories about prosecutorial conduct put forward by Ms. Powell, Mr. Barr followed his proposal and initiated a review.

The inspector, Mr. Barr, showed appointed documents that the FBI was aggressive when he decided to listen to Mr. Flynn. Although the Department of Justice did not claim that the previous failure to provide the documents constituted any breach of duty, it did cite that they provided a basis for Mr. Barr to leave the prosecution.

At the heart of the ministry’s allegations was the idea that Mr. Flynn’s lie to the FBI was not a crime because it was not relevant to any lawful investigation. One of the files revealed that the FBI had sought to complete an investigation into whether Mr. Flynn was a Russian agent before the question arose as to why he was lying about his colleagues ’call at the ambassador.

Gleeson and others have widely criticized this justification for dismissing the prosecution because the FBI needs little legal basis to conduct a volunteer interview and because Mr. Flynn’s mystery lies about his colleagues ’interactions with the ambassador. with regard to sanctions for Russian election intervention, it seemed clearly relevant to the larger Trump-Russia investigation.

Mr. Gleeson argued that the ministry did a special favor to Mr. Flynn because Mr. Trump wanted it, and urged Judge Sullivan not to allow justice to be a cover for a politically motivated intervention — that’s what the pardon power did. to. Ms. Powell, for her part, portrayed the case against her client as a corrupt and politically motivated conspiracy and accused Judge Sullivan of bias.

Mr. Trump used his power of grace abundantly, granting mercy not only to Mr. Stone but also to individuals who were Bernard B. Kerik, a New York City police commissioner, Ill. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, chief financial officer Michael R. Milken, and others fraud , corruption and other crimes.

Eileen Sullivan contributed to the report.