President Trump said he is seriously considering a pardon for former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“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. How convenient. I am strongly considering a Full Pardon!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.
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. How convenient. I am strongly considering a Full Pardon!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
March 15, 2020
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff quickly tweeted that Trump should keep his “focus on the current crisis” surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, adding that “the delay in testing and your failure to lead are already costing us dearly.”
“Your attacks on the independence of the justice system and rewarding of cronies who lied for you can wait,” the California Democrat said. “Incompetence kills.”
Flynn, 61, pleaded guilty in December 2017 for lying to investigators about his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak regarding U.S. sanctions and a United Nations Security Council vote, and faces possible prison time.
Former FBI Director James Comey admitted he took advantage of the chaos in the early days of the Trump administration when he sent special agent Peter Strzok and another FBI agent to talk to Flynn.
Flynn agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, admitting then reaffirming his guilt in 2017 and 2018. The defense team that negotiated the plea deal was fired and, since taking over this summer, Powell has argued “there never would’ve been a plea to begin with” if Flynn knew how much information the DOJ was hiding from him.
The Justice Department called Flynn’s claims of innocence “an extraordinary reversal.”
Flynn’s team told the U.S. District Court in Washington in January, “I am innocent of this crime.” He filed to withdraw his guilty plea after the Justice Department asked Judge Emmet Sullivan to sentence Flynn to up to six months in prison, though afterward, the department said it believed probation would also be appropriate. Flynn’s team, led by Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor, is now pressing for the dismissal of his case, arguing that the client was unfairly treated by the FBI.
Justice Department prosecutors said they stand by the zero-to-six-months recommendation, but added “probation is a reasonable sentence.”
For months, Powell has insisted that the original draft of the FBI’s notes from its interview with Flynn has gone missing. In one September 2019 filing, Powell asked the judge to help produce “the original draft of Mr. Flynn’s 302 and 1A file, and any FBI document that identifies everyone who had possession of it.”
“Where is the original 302?” Powell tweeted in January. “It cannot be ‘missing’.”
After Attorney General William Barr selected U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Jensen to review the Flynn case earlier this year, Powell tweeted that Jensen “should demand the Original Flynn 302 and audit trail” because “as former FBI, he knows it’s not ‘missing’.”
“The longer this false prosecution continues, the worse DOJ & FBI look,” she said.
In a filing earlier this year, Powell pointed to a section of DOJ Inspector General Horowitz’s report that showed the intelligence briefing the FBI gave to Trump’s team in August 2016 during the presidential campaign was a “pretext” to gather evidence to help in the counterintelligence investigation into Trump’s campaign. The FBI agent who led that briefing, known as “SSA 1” in Horowitz’s report and believed to be FBI supervisory Special Agent Joseph Pientka, was the same official who accompanied Strzok in their controversial January 2017 interview of Flynn.
Powell said “the IG Report establishes that SSA 1 was chosen and inserted into the presidential briefing for the very purpose of collecting information on Mr. Flynn” and that “this act was outrageous government misconduct that alone warrants dismissal of this prosecution.”
In her September filing to the court, Powell also requested access to “an internal DOJ document dated January 30,2017, in which the FBI exonerated Mr. Flynn of being ‘an agent of Russia’.”
The website Just The News obtained a copy of a letter between Mueller and Flynn’s defense team, which states that “according to an internal DOJ memo dated January 30, 2017, after the Jan. 24 interview, the FBI advised that based on the interview the FBI did not believe Flynn was acting as an agent of Russia.”
Flynn was the first Trump associate of the president to be convicted or plead guilty as a result of special counsel Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation into the Trump campaigns alleged ties to Russia, and agreed to cooperate with inquiry as part of his plea deal.
Mueller released his 448-page report in April, which showed he did not establish criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.