Donald Trump Pardons Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn After Pleading Guilty to Russia Contact

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump formally pardoned Gen. Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser. Flynn has been embroiled in an ongoing legal battle with the U.S. government for years now, as he was implicated in the Special Counsel investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump announced his pardon of Flynn on Twitter.

"It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. "Congratulations of [Flynn] and his wonderful family, I know you will have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!" The tweet rocked the political world on Wednesday evening, though to many, it was not a surprise. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in 2017, admitting that he had been untruthful about his contact with the Russian ambassador. Flynn then cooperated with investigators for a time, according to a report by NPR, but eventually reversed course and claimed that the government had been trying to frame him in some way.

Flynn even withdrew his guilty plea over the course of this protracted legal battle and entered a new "not guilty" plea. He still acknowledged that his conduct was against the law, putting his legal standing in a strange gray area.

Flynn was close to receiving a sentence before Trump's pardon, and many critics condemned the move. They argued that this was a sign of corruption, especially since it comes amid Trump's admission that he will have to leave office in January. While Trump has yet to concede the election, he still did allow President-elect Joe Biden's team to begin the formal transition to power.

Flynn's charges stemmed from Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation, and from Trump's impeachment, and some of the lawmakers who worked on the impeachment spoke out against Flynn's pardon. Rep. Adam Schiff, who helped prosecute Trump, responded with a tweet of his own.

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"Donald Trump has repeatedly abused the pardon power to reward friends and protect those who covered up for him," he wrote. "This time he pardons Michael Flynn, who lied to hide his dealings with the Russians. It’s no surprise that Trump would go out as he came in — Crooked to the end."

As for Flynn, on Wednesday he tweeted "Jeremiah 1:19" with an American flag emoji, presumably referring to the Bible verse. The verse concerns a "holy rescue," hinting that Flynn knew his pardon was on the way.