Trump Is Mentioned to Plan Pardon of Flynn

President Trump has told aides that he plans to apologize to his former National Security Advisor, Michael T. Flynn, and that this is a series of pardons he would like to issue before leaving office, a person associated with the discussions on Tuesday is familiar.

Mr. Flynn, a retired Lieutenant General in the Army, pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI about his talks with a Russian diplomat during the change of president in late 2016 and early 2017. He was the only former White House official pleaded guilty to the investigation, led by Robert S. Mueller III, the special adviser investigating Russia’s interference in the elections.

In May, the Justice Department attempted to withdraw its charges against Mr. Flynn. The move has since been tried in federal court under appeal by the judge who directed Mr Flynn’s case, Emmet G. Sullivan.

Mr. Trump’s plans were previously reported by Axios.

Flynn, 61, served as Trump’s national security advisor for just 24 days before the president fired him in February 2017 for lying about his contacts with then-Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak.

Mr Flynn switched legal team last year and tried to withdraw his admission of guilt. He claimed he had never lied to investigators and was the target of what his lawyers referred to in court records as an “ambush interview” by FBI agents in January 2017. He has since become a hero on the pro-Trump right portrayed as a decorated patriot who fell victim to the politically motivated Russian “hoax” investigation of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump, who initially distanced himself from Mr. Flynn after his release, has since taken up his cause and called him an “innocent man” who is being attacked by Obama administration officials who are trying to “overthrow a president”.

“What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never happen again to a citizen of the United States!” Mr Trump tweeted in April, weeks before the Justice Department attempted to withdraw his charges. After the department acted, Mr. Trump tweeted his approval, writing on May 8, “Yesterday was a big day for justice in the US.”

In a hearing before Judge Sullivan in late September, a Mr. Flynn attorney, Sidney Powell, reluctantly admitted that she had recently spoken to Mr. Trump about the case but said she had asked the President not to apologize to her client.

Ms. Powell has appeared with Mr. Trump’s attorneys, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, to discuss an unsubstantiated case of election fraud. After Ms. Powell made a number of particularly wild allegations, Mr. Giuliani and another lawyer representing the Trump campaign, Jenna Ellis, said in an abrupt statement on Sunday that Ms. Powell is “not a member of the Trump legal team.”

Mr Flynn has been waiting for Judge Sullivan’s decision on the Justice Department’s motion to withdraw his charges. The motion raised concerns among prosecutors about political influence in the department.

Mr Flynn said he did not remember his conversations with Mr Kislyak. However, the transcripts released in May indicate they were voluminous and that the men over three phone calls discussed how Washington and Moscow could improve relations. How should Russia react to punitive measures by the outgoing Obama administration in response to Russia’s interference in the elections? and a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Many outgoing presidents issued pardons and commutations towards the end of their term of office. Former President Bill Clinton was particularly critical of his pardoning a wealthy Democratic donor in his final hours at the White House. But Democrats and legal experts fear that Mr Trump will exercise his pardon power with a boldness that destroys previous precedent – possibly even by prospectively pardoning himself.

Mr Trump has already commuted the verdict of Roger J. Stone Jr., another member of the Russia investigation who was convicted of seven crimes and was due to begin a 40-month sentence in federal prison.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on news reports that Mr Trump had told confidants that he intended to apologize to Mr Flynn.

While presidents have traditionally consulted the department about pardons and commutations, they don’t need department approval to issue them. In general, Mr. Trump has not consulted the department or pardoned anyone who has been screened by the department’s pardon office.

Mr Trump’s intention came on a day the President was presiding over the White House’s annual turkey forgiveness. Mr. Trump ignored shouted questions from reporters in the rose garden whether he had actually planned pardons before leaving office.

Katie Benner contributed to the coverage.

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