Wed, 27 Jan 2021

U.S. President Donald Trump has pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI over his contacts with Russians.

Trump announced the pardon in a tweet on November 25, a day after media reports said Trump had told aides he planned to include Flynn in a series of pardons he will issue in the final days of his presidency.

'It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!' Trump said.

Flynn's secret talks with the Russian ambassador to Washington in December 2016 were a cornerstone of the investigation into Moscow's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether there had been any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in the election.

Trump fired Flynn in February 2017, but the president has claimed the investigation was a political 'witch hunt' and that Flynn was a 'good man.'

Flynn, a retired Army general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about interactions he had with Russia's ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition in late 2016 and early 2017.

But he has sought to withdraw the plea, arguing that prosecutors violated his rights and duped him into a plea agreement.

In a surprise move in May, the Justice Department withdrew its case against Flynn, saying the alleged lies to the FBI were not significant. But the federal judge who presided over Flynn's case has demanded a further judicial review of the matter.

Trump's pardon takes the matter out of the courts.

Trump on July 10 commuted the sentence of Roger Stone, a former Trump adviser, just before he was due to report to prison. He faced a sentence of three years and four months for lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.

The presidential grant of clemency stopped short of a full pardon.

Though the special counsel's report on the investigation detailed multiple interactions between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia, it found insufficient evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and the Kremlin to tip the election.

Based on reporting by Axios, The New York Times, AFP, and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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