President Trump said Sunday that he is considering pardoning former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The tweet from Trump came as the country is in the midst of a national emergency as officials work to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, with schools, businesses and other institutions shutting down.
“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,” Trump said in a tweet. “How convenient. I am strongly considering a Full Pardon!”
It is unclear what records Trump was referencing when he alleged that the Justice Department had “lost” material related to the case.
Sidney Powell, Flynn’s attorney, has argued in court that prosecutors have failed to turn over certain documents to Flynn and his legal team that might be exculpatory, but her allegations have been disputed by prosecutors and rejected by the federal judge overseeing the case. In any case, there have been no new filings in the case in several weeks.
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition. But in a stunning reversal two months ago, Flynn asked a federal judge for permission to withdraw his plea, alleging that prosecutors breached his cooperation agreement by demanding false testimony.
The judge later canceled a sentencing hearing for Flynn that had been scheduled for late last month.
If Trump pardons his former national security adviser, it would be the latest such move by the president after several recent high-profile clemency announcements. Last month, Trump pardoned or commuted the sentences of seven convicted white-collar criminals alongside four others whose cases were not as well known.
The pardons and commutations focused on the type of corruption and lying charges that Trump’s associates were convicted of as part of the Russia investigation. Among those whose crimes were forgiven were disgraced politician Rod R. Blagojevich, convicted junk bond king Michael Milken and former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik.
Spencer S. Hsu and Anne Gearan contributed to this report.
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