President Donald Trump has reportedly discussed plans to pardon his former national security adviser Michael Flynn — who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with a Russian diplomat — as he prepares to leave office in January.
Trump has been discussing plans to issue multiple pardons, which will include Flynn, with his aides, Axios reported first with the New York Times and CNN confirming later, all citing sources close to the discussions.
According to CNN, Trump hasn’t fully made up his mind about the pardon, however, Flynn is most likely to receive clemency, with George Papadopoulos and Paul Manafort also being under consideration.
Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday night, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.) backed the president’s reported plans, stating: “President Trump should pardon Michael Flynn. He should pardon the Thanksgiving turkey. He should pardon everyone from himself to administration officials to Joe Exotic if he has to.” Gaetz then accused the “radical left” of harboring a “blood lust” for officials who have worked for the Trump administration.
Gaetz’s suggestion that Trump should pardon himself is something Trump previously claimed he can do. In a 2018 tweet, the president wrote, “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” However, the legality of such a maneuver by Trump may be questionable. In a legal memo written in 1974 — ahead of President Nixon’s resignation — the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel had argued that a president could not self-pardon, noting: “Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, it would seem that the question should be answered in the negative.”
Flynn, a retired Army Lt. General has twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his meeting with a Russian diplomat during the presidential transition in late 2016 and early 2017, a matter that formed part of the FBI’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. In May, however, the Justice Department abandoned the case and pushed to withdraw the charges. Prior to that, Flynn himself sought to withdraw his guilty plea and accused the FBI of entrapment. Flynn’s case is now being heard by a federal court and he is being represented by Sidney Powell, who was recently booted from the Trump campaign’s legal team after she frequently brought up unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about voter fraud. Powell reluctantly admitted during Flynn’s hearing that she had recently spoken to the president about the case, but claimed that she had asked the president not to pardon her client.
Source: Forbes – Business