Washington, Nov 25 (efe-epa).- US President Donald Trump announced Wednesday a pardon for his former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to charges that he lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russia’s envoy to the United States.
“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to (Flynn) and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!,” the departing president said on Twitter.
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 amid threats from prosecutors to indict his son on a separate matter.
Last year, however, the one-time director of the Defense Intelligence Agency hired a new team of lawyers who embarked on an effort to get Flynn’s conviction overturned.
The charges against Flynn were part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged Russian efforts to aid Trump during the 2016 election and of possible coordination between the Kremlin and the real estate mogul’s presidential campaign.
Mueller said in his report, issued in April 2019, that he found no evidence that Trump or his associates colluded with Russian officials.
In May of this year, the Department of Justice applied for the dismissal of the case against Flynn.
The DoJ said that the FBI interview of Flynn that led to the charges was an attempt to revive “a no longer justifiably predicated investigation.”
FBI officials questioned Flynn in early January 2017 – before Trump’s inauguration – about several telephone conversations he had with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the US.
“After a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information appended to the defendant’s supplemental pleadings, the Government has concluded that the interview of Mr. Flynn was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn,” the DoJ said.
Moreover, the DoJ noted, the interview came after an FBI document that recommended closing the investigation of Flynn due to the “absence of any derogatory information.”
“The Government is not persuaded that the January 24, 2017 interview was conducted with a legitimate investigative basis and therefore does not believe Mr. Flynn’s statements were material even if untrue. Moreover, we not believe that the Government can prove either the relevant false statements or their materiality beyond a reasonable doubt,” the DoJ said in its court filing.
The FBI’s case against Flynn was based on discrepancies between his answers in the interview and the transcripts of his conversations with Kislyak.
Flynn reached out to Kislyak at the behest of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, who hoped to see Russia veto a UN Security Council resolution critical of Israel.
The general is the second person to receive a pardon from Trump after being convicted on charges related to the Russia probe, joining veteran Republican political operative Roger Stone.
Trump is to leave office on Jan. 20, 2021, after losing the Nov. 3 election to Democrat Joe Biden.
Though the president seems unlikely ever to concede defeat, he has authorized government departments to begin the process of transition to a Biden administration. EFE afs/dr