KEY POINTS

  • Michael Flynn could be pardoned by the president, sources claim
  • Flynn was the first person to plead guilty in the Mueller investigation
  • He withdrew that plea in January

Outgoing President Donald Trump is said to be considering pardons for a handful of allies ensnared in the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian election interference, including Michael Flynn, sources claim.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Flynn served 22 days in the Trump administration, as a national security adviser, before he was fired. He was the first person in the White House to plead guilty in special counsel Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He confessed to lying to FBI agents about a discussion with a Russian diplomat related to sanctions after Trump was declared the winner, but before he was sworn into office.

Several sources told CNN and Axios separately that Flynn could be pardoned before Trump leaves office in January.

“Sources with direct knowledge of the discussions said Flynn will be part of a series of pardons that Trump issues between now and when he leaves office,” Axios reported late Tuesday.

The Justice Department withdrew its case against Flynn this year, arguing his alleged comments to the FBI were not detrimental enough to warrant further investigation. He withdrew his guilty plea in January and a federal judge called for further review, though a pardon would render that review moot.

CNN added the president may also pardon George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy official who pled guilty to similar charges, and Paul Manafort, a lead consultant in Trump’s 2016 campaign who was indicted on multiple charges, including obstruction of justice. CNN noted, however, that Trump may opt against the pardons.

Mueller’s investigation found that GRU, a Russian military intelligence unit, meddled in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf by spreading false information and exploiting the political divisions in the country. His report did not issue a conclusion on whether the interference impacted the outcome of the vote.

Mueller’s investigation did not recommend impeachment, instead referring to the congressional authority to determine any wrong-doing. Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives in December 2019 on counts related to the probe but was acquitted in the Senate the following month.

In October, the Justice Department charged six Russian military officers with conspiracy and other offenses for targeting U.S. hospitals and businesses, the French election, and the 2018 Winter Olympics in a cyber campaign.

Trump has maintained the allegations of Russian interference were part of a “witch hunt” by his political adversaries.

MichaelFlynn Michael Flynn's case is not moving forward after the Justice Department recommended it should be dismissed. Photo: Flickr