Recent revelations have fueled suspicion among some Republicans that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was unjustly targeted by the FBI and wrongly prosecuted by special counsel Robert Mueller.
According to Newsweek, the news has resulted in increased talk among President Donald Trump’s “closest allies,” some of whom have engaged in what the outlet called a “public pressure campaign” aimed at convincing the president to pardon Flynn or otherwise clear his conviction.
“Might have to appease the base”
Pressure reportedly began to mount earlier this week when Flynn’s former legal team released thousands of documents that included information that appeared to exculpate the former Army general. Flynn has not yet been sentenced after pleading guilty more than two years ago to charges of lying to the FBI, Newsweek noted.
Developments reached a peak on Wednesday with the public release of handwritten notes indicating FBI agents had intentionally tried to catch Flynn in a lie as part of their effort to see him fired or prosecuted. One source even told Fox News that the evidence being reviewed by U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham as part of the case “could be sufficient for some charges against agents.”
An unnamed “senior Republican congressional aide” reportedly told Newsweek that “pressure from the right-wing friends is going to be massive” and that Trump “might have to appease the base” calling for a pardon.
Other Trump allies and GOP leaders have gone on the record to express their disapproval of the circumstances around the Flynn case. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and conservative pundits including Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Maria Bartiromo have each issued commentary sharply criticizing what they believe was a miscarriage of justice, Newsweek noted.
Trump has not committed to issuing a pardon, but he has posted and shared tweets in support of Flynn over the past several days and has hinted in the past that he would intervene in some way if necessary.
“I have a different type of power”
Most recently, the president responded to a related question during remarks in the East Room of the White House on Thursday. “General Flynn was under enormous pressure and it was an artificial pressure, because what they did to General Flynn was a disgrace,” Trump said, according to a White House transcript.
Citing “even more information” that has surfaced in recent days, he criticized the process without providing a concrete answer about a pardon.
“Well, it looks to me like Michael Flynn would be exonerated based on everything I see,” Trump said. “Look, I’m not the judge, but I have a different type of power. But I don’t know that anybody would have to use that power.”
The president further confirmed that he would “certainly consider” rehiring Flynn to work in the White House.
With new evidence coming to light about what many see as a partisan plot to target the Trump adviser, it seems those who believe the establishment is out to bring down this administration suddenly have new arguments to make.