President Donald Trump announces a pardon for his former national security advisor Michael Flynn, 61, who was accused of lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US.
Trump previously said that the case against Flynn was a "scam" and he was framed, adding that what has happened to him should never happen to any other American.
It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 25, 2020
According to media speculation, the move is supposed to be one in a series of pardons Trump is going to announce before the next US president takes office.
Retired Army Gen. Flynn, who was forced into retirement, pleaded guilty in 2017 to making "false and fraudulent statements" to the FBI regarding the nature of the talks with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak amid the 2016 election campaign. He, however, retracted his plea later after evidence emerged that the FBI might have framed him.
The Flynn case was part of broader investigations into alleged collusion between the Trump team and Russian officials in 2016, which had been making headlines on major US media outlets for almost two years. However, the final report of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller stated there was no evidence that a conspiracy between Trump and Russia took place during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Russian officials have repeatedly refuted the accusations, saying Moscow has never meddled in the US' internal affairs.
In early May, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said it was dismissing Flynn's prosecution, finding that the FBI's questioning of Flynn was not "conducted with a legitimate investigative basis", with his responses immaterial "even if untrue". However, US Judge Emmet Sullivan, who oversaw the criminal prosecution against Flynn, put the DOJ's effort to close the case on hold.
Framed by FBI?
In July, a portion of documents released by the DOJ indicated the FBI knew Flynn was not a Russian agent and had no intent to lie to the federal agents during his interview in 2017, Flynn's legal team said. The FBI "knew General Flynn's statements were not material to any investigation", his lawyers wrote in a court filing.
Meanwhile, another portion of declassified documents revealed that a number of Obama-era officials, including Joe Biden, had received intelligence about Flynn's conversations during the period between President Donald Trump's 8 November 2016 election and Trump's swearing-in on 20 January 2017, which prompted many Republicans to suggest that they specifically picked officials close to President Trump.
Trump has once said that Obama and Biden should be jailed for 50 years for their engagement in the investigation against Flynn. "It's a disgrace what's happened this is the greatest political scam, hoax in the history of our country. And people should be going to jail for this stuff and hopefully, a lot of people are going to have to pay", the US president said.
Flynn said in mid-January he withdrew his guilty plea because of the government's "bad faith, vindictiveness, and breach of the plea agreement".