President Donald Trump pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday.
“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon,” President Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”
Flynn is the second Trump associate convicted in the Russia probe to be granted clemency by the president. President Trump commuted the sentence of longtime confidant Roger Stone just days before he was to report to prison. It is part of a broader effort to undo the results of an investigation that for years has shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half dozen associates.
Flynn acknowledged lying during the FBI interview by saying he had not discussed with the then-Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that had just been imposed on Russia for election interference by the outgoing Obama administration. During that conversation, Flynn urged Kislyak for Russia to be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the two countries after Trump became president.
The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had coordinated to sway the election’s outcome. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions.
But last May, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position in the case. It said the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States, and that any statements he may have made were not relevant to the FBI’s broader counterintelligence probe. It cited internal FBI notes showing that agents had planned to close out their investigation into Flynn weeks earlier.
Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that he had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak, and that former Obama administration administration officials had warned the White House that he could be vulnerable to blackmail.
Flynn was among the first of the president’s aides to admit guilt in Mueller’s investigation and cooperated extensively for months. He provided such extensive cooperation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time and suggested that they would be fine with probation.
But on the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behavior from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue cooperating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.