U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he is considering a full pardon for his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about dealings with Russia’s ambassador before Trump took office.
Flynn sought to withdraw the guilty plea in January, arguing that prosecutors violated his rights and duped him into a plea agreement. Trump 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.
“I am strongly considering a Full Pardon!” Trump said on Twitter.
Flynn was supposed to help cooperate with the government as part of his plea deal. But he later switched lawyers and tactics, arguing that prosecutors in the case had violated his rights and tricked him into lying about his December 2016 conversations with Sergei Kislyak, then Moscow’s ambassador in Washington.
The Department of Justice has repeatedly denied allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, and U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan rejected all of Flynn’s claims in December and set a sentencing date.
Shortly after that, Flynn filed the motion to withdraw his plea.
Flynn, who also previously led the Defense Intelligence Agency, served just 24 days in the Republican Trump administration before he was fired in January 2017.
He was one of several former Trump aides to plead guilty or be convicted at trial in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election to boost Trump’s candidacy, as well as numerous contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
In a court filing, Flynn’s lawyers said the Justice Department was attempting to “rewrite history” by withdrawing its recommendation that he be sentenced to probation and by suggesting he had not been forthcoming or cooperative.
“It’s just been one atrocity after the other,” Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in January. “They breached the plea agreement when they tried to withdraw their motion to recommend that he was going to be given probation,” she said.
The Justice Department, led by Attorney General Bill Barr, is now reviewing the handling of Flynn’s case.
Trump has granted pardons or clemency to a number of people in recent weeks, including former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr. and former New York Police Department Commissioner Bernard Kerik. There had been speculation that the president could pardon Flynn, as well as former associate Roger Stone, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for charges including lying to Congress and witness tampering. That case had also spun out of the Russia probe.