Michael Flynn could be pardoned. Here’s the politics behind it
US President Donald Trump plans to pardon his former national security adviser Michael Flynn before he leaves office, according to multiple media reports. Earlier in March, Trump said that he was strongly considering a full pardon for Flynn. He said the FBI and Justice Department had “destroyed” Flynn’s life and that of his family.
Trump has already commuted the sentence of his adviser and long time aide Roger Stone. His former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort is still in home confinement while he serves a prison sentence. All three of them are connected to the Mueller report which was an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump campaign’s links with Moscow.
Here’s everything you need to know about Michael Flynn and the politics of his pardon:
Who is Michael Flynn?
Flynn, who famously called for the jailing of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Republican convention, served in the Army for 33 years, eventually reaching the rank of lieutenant general before his retirement in 2014. He was the head of military intelligence as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Obama administration.
After this, he briefly served as Trump’s first national security adviser and was chosen even though President Obama had repeatedly warned Trump against hiring him, citing “profound concerns.” During the Mueller investigation, the FBI interviewed Flynn in January 2017 about his relationship with Russia after which he resigned from his position 24 days into the new administration.
What is Flynn accused of?
Prosecutors alleged Flynn “did willfully and knowingly make materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to FBI agents during a January 2017 interview about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Because of this Flynn faced criminal charges and was the first to be prosecuted during the Mueller investigation.
In December 2017, Flynn formalised a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to plead guilty to a felony count of “willfully and knowingly” making false statements to the FBI, and agreed to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s investigation. But in January 2020, Flynn moved to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming government vindictiveness and breach of the plea agreement. In May, 2020 the United States Department of Justice headed by Attorney General William Barr announced that it intended to drop all charges against Flynn.
What is the politics behind the reported pardon?
If Trump does grant a pardon to Flynn, it would be the highest-profile pardon issued by the president since he took office. The pardon will also be personal for Trump who called the Mueller investigation, a “hoax” and a “witch hunt”. Through the pardon, Trump will be able to show Flynn and most importantly himself as the victim of the Mueller investigation and Washington insiders.