By Stanley Ugagbe
United States President Donald Trump has pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The retired Army general, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about interactions he had with Russia’s ambassador to the United States in the weeks leading up to Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.
Flynn, whose sentencing has been deferred several times, has since sought to withdraw the plea, arguing that prosecutors violated his rights and duped him into a plea agreement.
Trump, who announced that he has pardoned Flynn on his Twitter page, wrote: “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!”
It would be recalled that Trump said in March he was strongly considering a full pardon for Flynn. He said the FBI and Justice Department had “destroyed” Flynn’s life and that of his family, and cited an unspecified, unsubstantiated report that they had lost records related to Flynn.
Reacting to the pardon, Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, who told a court in September she personally asked Trump not to pardon her client, said the pardon was “bittersweet” because Flynn was innocent.
Records have it that Trump’s move was the highest-profile pardon he has granted since he took office. Among others, the Republican president has pardoned Army personnel accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and Joe Arpaio, a former Arizona sheriff and hardliner against illegal immigration.
It should be noted that Flynn served as Trump’s first national security adviser but the president fired him after only 24 days for lying to Vice President Mike Pence as controversy broke over the former general’s contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
Flynn was one of several former Trump aides to plead guilty or be convicted at trial in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US election to boost Trump’s candidacy. Russia denied meddling.