Trump’s decision to pardon his former adviser Michael Flynn was blasted as an “abuse of power” by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman from California who played a key role in the impeachment investigation against the president earlier this year.
“Donald Trump has abused the pardon power to reward his friends and political allies, and protect those who lie to cover up for him. This time, Trump has once again abused the pardon power to reward Michael Flynn, who chose loyalty to Trump over loyalty to his country”, Schiff said in a statement that shortly followed the announcement.
According to the politician, who has repeatedly been dubbed by the president as “Shifty Schiff”, the announced move did not “erase that truth, no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise”.
Schiff noted that Flynn had “twice” pleaded guilty to lying to FBI about the nature of his communications with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak during the 2016 transition period.
But according to another top Democrat, New York representative Jerry Nadler, who also played a vital role in the impeachment probe against POTUS, the pardon was still “undeserved, unprincipled, and one more stain on President Trump’s rapidly diminishing legacy”.
“It is important to talk about why the President pardoned Flynn. President Trump dangled this pardon to encourage Flynn to backtrack on his pledge to cooperate with federal investigators — cooperation that might have exposed the President’s own wrongdoing. And it worked”, Nadler, who chairs the Judiciary Committees, claimed. “Flynn broke his deal, recanted his plea, received the backing of the Attorney General over the objections of career prosecutors, and now has secured a pardon from the President of the United States”.
Nadler also slammed Trump’s actions as an “abuse of power” and that they “fundamentally undermine the rule of law”, citing POTUS’ earlier pardon of ex-campaign consultant Roger Stone, who was accused of lying to Congress and witness tampering in relation to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe.
Mueller’s investigation unsuccessfully tried to prove Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election and was slammed by both Stone and Trump as being politically motivated.
The charges against Flynn were also part of a broader probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin back in 2016. In February 2020, Flynn admitted to lying about the content of conversations he had held with Kislyak before Trump’s inauguration in his interviews with FBI in January 2017. He agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation, which eventually failed to prove that any conspiracy existed between Trump 2016 campaign and Russian officials.
In January 2020, Flynn moved to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming that his constitutional rights were violated during the bargain, as the US government had allegedly acted in bad faith to breach the deal.
This year, the Justice Department, headed by Attorney General William Barr, pushed to dismiss the case against Trump’s former adviser, saying that the FBI's questioning of Flynn was not "conducted with a legitimate investigative basis", and saying that his responses were non-relevant to any probe “even if untrue”. However, the DOJ’s attempt to halt the case was put on hold by US Judge Emmet Sullivan, who oversaw the criminal prosecution against the decorated army general.