WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
A retired Army general, Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 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.
He has since sought to withdraw the plea, arguing that prosecutors violated his rights and duped him into a plea agreement. His sentencing has been deferred several times.
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 U.S. election to boost Trump’s candidacy. Russia denied meddling.
Trump in March said 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.
The Justice Department has repeatedly denied allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, and U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan rejected all of Flynn’s claims in December 2019.
Federal prosecutors had asked the judge in January to sentence Flynn to up to six months in prison, arguing in a court filing that “the defendant has not learned his lesson. He has behaved as though the law does not apply to him, and as if there are no consequences for his actions.”
Flynn joined the Trump 2016 election campaign and at the Republican National Convention that year he led supporters in chants of “Lock her up,” in reference to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Howard Goller)