U.S. President Donald Trump has pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
The President said the most anticipated act of tolerance was his “Great Honour”.
What Did Mr. Flynn Do?
Mr Flynn was convicted during a probationary hearing by Russia’s government for allegedly interfering in the 2016 general election.
Leading Democrats have condemned the amnesty. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of gross corruption and abuse of power”.
The White House has said the amnesty will eventually put an end to “persistence and the pursuit of innocence”.
Mr. Flynn, who admitted in 2017 that he had lied to the FBI about contacting the Russian embassy but tried to withdraw his request, responded by sending a tweet containing the United States flag emoji and Bible verse, Jeremiah 1:19.
The verse says: “‘They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will deliver you,’ says the Lord.”
About Michael Flynn
The retired U.S. Army lieutenant general was Mr. Trump’s first and foremost supporter during the 2016 campaign, even though he had been a Democrat all his life before.
Mr. Flynn was among the first new president’ss appointed candidates – Mr. Trump brought him in just a few days after winning the election.
The two have been at loggerheads over a number of issues, including the benefits of closer ties with Russia, a renegotiation of Iran’s nuclear deal and the military threat to Islamic State militants.
But he has only taken 23 days as a national security adviser, senior vice president of international affairs and defense.
Mr Trump fired him after it emerged he had discussed the deportation of Russian troops with the Moscow ambassador to Washington before Mr Trump took office, misleading the vice president with that conversation.
Although he initially agreed to work with prosecutors, Mr Flynn asked to withdraw his case in January this year, saying he had been deceived in the agreement.
The Department of Justice wanted his charges dropped, leading to a legal battle that dragged on for much of 2020.
Former President Barack Obama has said he had warned Mr Trump to hire his former boss less than 48 hours after the November 2016 election.
Mr Flynn’s supporters see him as a political victim of Obama’s ousted administration to formalize Trump’s incoming administration with allegations that Russia is allied with him.
A 22-month investigation led by former FBI director Robert Mueller concluded in 2019 that Russia intervened in the 2016 elections, but found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Mr. Trump’s presidential team for the 2016 presidential campaign and Moscow.
A White House statement on Wednesday described Mr Flynn as “a victim of independent government officials who have made concerted efforts to disrupt the 2016 election”.
Mr Trump has spoken out many times but has no evidence that millions of votes were cast illegally in 2016, and he continues to make similar unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the 2020 poll.
Other Pardons And Commutations
Forgiveness cancels the sentence while the change reduces the penalty – both of these rights granted to the president by the Constitution.
It is common for outgoing presidents to issue amnesty.
Mr Trump currently has a very small amount of pardon and exchange for any current US president, according to the Pew Research Center. Barack Obama’s predecessor granted 212 amnesty and 1,715 changes – the highest number since President Harry Truman.
Here are some of the big names from the 28 pardons and 16 exchanges that Mr. Trump has released so far:
Roger Stone, a longtime partner, who was convicted last year of lying in Congress and testifying of abuse. He reduced his prison sentence
Jeff Arpaio, convicted of breaking the law after disobeying an order to stop patrolling passengers accused of having undocumented immigrants
Former vice-president Dick Cheney, chief of staff Scooter Libby, who was found guilty of lying about media leaks, has also been pardoned.
Women’s voting rights activist Susan B Anthony, convicted of illegal voting, was fined in 1873 and granted amnesty after death
Crystal Munoz, Judith Negron and Tynice Hall, three mothers of juvenile offenders serving sentences for drug and white collars and their cases brought to the presidency by Kim Kardashian, commuted their sentences
The U.S. media reported that a number of Trump’s allies are hoping to be tolerated in the coming days, including former advisers Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, both convicted in Mueller’s investigation.
Republicans have described Mr Flynn as a hero who suffered brutal persecution.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said: “General Flynn was not a Russian lawyer. Instead, he was the victim of political investigations and prosecutions where decisions were in favor.”
In the US House of Representatives, Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted: “What happened to @GenFlynn has been a national disgrace. No American should be singled out for mere membership in a political party.”
But Democrats were quick to condemn the move.
Ms Pelosi said in a statement: “Unfortunately this pardon is further evidence that Trump plans to use his last days on the job to undermine the rule of law after his failure to become president.”
House Justice Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler said in a statement: “This pardon is unjustified, unconstitutional, and is one of the stereotypes in President Trump’s rapidly declining history.”