President Trump has told aides that he is planning a pardon for Michael T. Flynn’s former national security adviser, and that is one of a series of pardons he plans to issue before leaving his office, a person familiar with the discussions said Tuesday.
Mr. Flynn, a retired lieutenant general in the Army, pleaded guilty twice to lying about the FBI’s conversations with the Russian diplomat during the change of president in late 2016 and early 2017. He was the only former White House official to plead guilty in the investigation under the leadership of Robert S. Mueller III, a special adviser investigating Russian election intervention.
In May, the Department of Justice sought to drop his charge against Mr. Flynn. This move has since been tied to the federal court, which has been challenged by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who presided over Mr Flynn’s case.
Trump’s plans were previously reported by Axios.
Flynn, 61, spent just 24 days as Trump’s national security adviser before being fired by the president in February 2017 for lying about his relationship with the then U.S. ambassador to the U.S., Sergei I. Kislyak.
Mr. Flynn changed his legal team last year and tried to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he had never lied to investigators, and in January 2017, his target was what his lawyers called FBI agents “ambush-interviews” in court papers. shut up. Since then, he has become a heroic figure of the right-wing Trump, portrayed as a distinguished patriot who fell victim to Mr. Trump’s politically motivated “fake” investigation.
Trump, who initially distanced himself from Mr. Flynn after his dismissal, has since taken up his case and called the target of Obama administration officials an “innocent man” who tried to “replace the president”.
“What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, must never happen again to the citizens of the United States!” Mr. Trump tweeted in April, weeks before the Justice Department tried to drop its charges. After the class performed, Mr. Trump tweeted his approvalwrote on May 8, “Yesterday was a BIG day in the United States.”
At a hearing before Judge Sullivan in late September, Mr. Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, reluctantly admitted to having recently spoken to Mr. Trump about the case, but said he had asked the president not to pardon his client.
Ms. Powell appeared with attorneys, Mr. Trump, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, to investigate an unfounded election fraud case. But after Ms. Powell made various wild allegations, Mr Giuliani and another lawyer representing the Trump campaign, Jenna Ellis, said in a sudden statement on Sunday that Ms. Powell was “not a member of Trump’s legal team”.
Flynn is awaiting Judge Mr. Sullivan’s decision on the Department of Justice’s motion to drop the charge. The motion triggered an alarm among career prosecutors about the department’s political influence.
Mr Flynn said he did not remember his conversations with Mr Kislyak. But the downgraded transcripts in May show they were extensive, and in three phone calls, the men talked about how Washington and Moscow could improve relations; how Russia should respond to the punitive actions of the outgoing Obama administration in response to Russia’s election intervention; and the UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Towards the end of his term, many outgoing presidents issued graces and commutations. Former President Bill Clinton has been particularly harsh in criticizing the grace of a wealthy Democrat donor in the final hours of the White House. But Democrats and legal experts fear that Mr. Trump will exercise his power of grace with a cheekiness that destroys the precedent of the past — perhaps also by predictably pardoning himself.
Mr. Trump has already commuted the punishment of Roger J. Stone Jr., another staff member involved in the Russian investigation, who was convicted of seven crimes and should have begun a 40-month term in federal prison.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on reports that Mr Trump had told Confidential that he was planning a pardon for Mr. Flynn.
While presidents have traditionally consulted with the ministry for grace and commutation, they do not need the approval of the department for release. In general, Mr. Trump did not consult with the Department and did not pardon the people who were examined by the Department’s pardon office.
News of Trump’s intent came on the day the president presided over the White House’s annual turkey pardon. Trump ignored questions asked to journalists in the Rose Garden about whether he was planning actual grace before leaving his office.
Katie Benner contributed to the report.