President Donald Trump says he is “strongly considering a full pardon” for Michael Flynn.
Flynn is facing sentencing for lying to investigators in the Robert Mueller-led Trump–Russia collusion probe, a charge that Flynn and his supporters maintain was contrived against him by malicious prosecutors. Trump revived this complaint in a tweet Sunday, according to The Hill, writing that the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) destroyed Flynn’s life and “the life of his wonderful family.”
So now it is reported that, after destroying his life & the life of his wonderful family (and many others also), the FBI, working in conjunction with the Justice Department, has “lost” the records of General Michael Flynn. How convenient. I am strongly considering a Full Pardon!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2020
“One atrocity after the other”
Long seen as a figure of sympathy in Trump’s base, Flynn is among the last members of the president’s inner circle still awaiting punishment stemming from the Mueller probe. He is facing a delayed sentencing for his guilty plea for having lied to in investigators in 2017 about his contacts with a Russian diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, according to the Washington Post.
Flynn withdrew his guilty plea in January, citing “bad faith” by the government, Politico reported, after prosecutors reversed their recommendation that Flynn face probation and no jail time. The Justice Department, for its part, said that Flynn was not being cooperative, but Flynn and his lawyers maintain that his plea agreement was made under pressure from FBI and DOJ officials, according to Fox News.
Trump’s mention of “lost” records Sunday appeared to reference claims from Flynn’s lawyers that the FBI’s notes from his interview were missing or somehow manipulated, Fox noted. Flynn’s lawyers have sought to dismiss the case over “egregious government misconduct,” according to ABC News.
“It’s just been one atrocity after the other,” Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell told Fox’s Sean Hannity in January. “They breached the plea agreement when they tried to withdraw their motion to recommend that he was going to be given probation.”
Trump flexes pardon power
Like Flynn, Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone is also facing jail time for alleged wrongdoing originating in the Mueller probe, as The Hill notes. The eccentric and flamboyant political operative was sentenced to three and a half years in prison last month for lying to Congress and witness tampering amid a controversial storm of comments by Trump about his case.
The Stone controversy blew up amid a string of pardons and commutations that Trump dealt out to various high-profile figures, including former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and former New York Police Department Commissioner Bernie Kerik, the New York Post reported.
Trump’s critics are likely to view any pardon for Flynn or Stone as a crime spree, but their supporters maintain that they were targeted by the same Russia “witch hunt” that dogged President Trump throughout his first term in office. Mueller’s probe did not establish that any collusion took place between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Trump has floated a pardon for Stone, but he has said that he will wait for his request for a retrial to play out first. “I’m going to watch the process. I’m going to watch it very closely,” Trump said in February, according to Reuters.
Attorney General Bill Barr — who has also come under fire for seeking to lighten Stone’s punishment after prosecutors recommended he face up to nine years — is currently overseeing a second look at the Flynn case.