Washington (AP) – The full pardon of former national security adviser Michael Flynn could only have been the prelude to incumbent US President Donald Trump.
The elected Republican is president with full rights until January 20 – and there are still a few convicts among his allies hoping for his intervention.
These include his advisers to the 2016 election campaign, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, who, like Flynn, were also convicted in connection with the Russia investigation. Many now hoped for “a wave of grace” before the end of his tenure, the New York Times wrote. Trump had already released his confidant Roger Stone from prison in July. Above all, the question floats: Can the incumbent president still pardon himself as a precautionary measure for crimes under federal law?
Trump sees himself as the victim of a “witch hunt” against him, also in view of the Russia investigation. In June 2018, he wrote on Twitter that he had “the absolute right” to pardon himself. ‘But why would I do that if I haven’t done anything wrong?’ He wrote at the time. Whether Trump is actually allowed to do this is controversial – should he take such a step in his final days in office, it would be a first in US history.
Former presidents such as Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama exercised the right to pardon until their last days in office. There were controversial cases at the time, but the crimes of the pardons were not directly related to the president or his election campaign.
A storm of outrage is unlikely to disturb him much, as shown by his grace Flynn. “It is a great honor for me to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been pardoned,” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday (local time). Prominent Democrats in the US Congress responded with indignation, immediately accusing Trump of abusing his power and undermining the rule of law.
The retired general was embroiled in the affair of possible Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Flynn was a White House security adviser for just over three weeks in 2017. He later admitted in the course of the investigation into the Russia affair that he had lied to the federal police’s FBI. He is also said to have lied to Vice President Mike Pence. Flynn pleaded guilty to the investigation by FBI special investigator Robert Mueller.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows described Flynn on Twitter as an “ American patriot. ” “What the left has done to him and his family over the past four years should never be allowed in America again.” Trump himself tweeted hours after Flynn’s pardon, “Have a great life, General Flynn!”
Leading Democrats were outraged. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, accused Trump of abuse of power in favor of a convicted violator: “Flynn’s actions were a serious and dangerous violation of our national security.” The pardon is further proof that Trump does not respect the rule of law.
Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote on Twitter, “Donald Trump has repeatedly abused his pardon to reward friends and protect those who covered him.” Then the Democrat added, “Corrupt to the end.” Justice Commission chairman Jerrold Nadler said the pardon was “undeserved and unscrupulous and another blot on President Trump’s rapidly diminishing legacy.”
In January, Flynn filed for a retraction of his confession, shortly before a verdict was expected. In May, in a highly unusual step, the Justice Department called for the proceedings to be terminated. It is not convinced that Flynn’s January 2017 hearing was based on a legitimate investigation, it said. Trump then praised Flynn as a “hero.”
The case was stuck in federal court following the controversial advance of the Justice Department. The judge responsible had not agreed to drop the allegations against Flynn.
The possibility of Trump pardoning his confidant has long been in the room. In March, the president announced that he would seriously consider “full pardon”. According to Trump, Flynn was treated unfairly by the judiciary and the FBI. He repeatedly complained that Flynn had been prosecuted by the judiciary.
Before the Nov. 3 presidential election, the legal battle in the Flynn case came back on the agenda: Republicans attempted to mobilize supporters by portraying an establishment conspiracy against Trump. Trump spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday, “General Flynn would not need a pardon. He is an innocent man. He was the “victim of partisan government officials” who tried to undermine the 2016 election.
Flynn herself tweeted a photo of the American flag on Twitter shortly before Trump’s announcement, writing “Jeremiah 1:19”. The Bible verse says, “May they fight against you, they will not overcome you; for I am with you to save you – saying of the Lord. “