Michael Flynn

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President Donald Trump announced in a tweet Wednesday that he has granted his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, a "full pardon," wiping away the guilty plea of the intelligence official, lobbyist and conservative fringe darling for lying to the FBI.

The pardon, coming as Trump enters his last days as President, bookends his four years in office and his supporters' revisionist take on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Since January 2017, the Flynn case has been among the defining scandals and sagas of Trump's presidency and Attorney General William Barr's leadership of the Justice Department.

It was only a matter of time, once it became clear that the election was lost, that President Trump would pardon retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who fleetingly served as his first national security adviser. The president did so Wednesday.

Months ago, the Justice Department moved to dismiss Flynn’s prosecution on the ground that there was no basis to investigate him in the first place – a point I started making in 2017. But the Justice Department ran into an angry jurist and a quirk of federal law.

DAY AFTER day, year after year, Americans wondered when Donald Trump would change. But winning primaries, claiming the GOP nomination, taking the White House and being president did not snap him out of a lifelong habit of indecency. It was too much to imagine that losing his reelection bid would bring a change of character. And so it is that President Trump is leaving the White House just as he entered it: a total disgrace.

In what we can only hope will be his last official degradation of his office, the president pardoned Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, on Wednesday, the afternoon before Thanksgiving. Mr. Flynn freely pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators, a felony, about whether he discussed anti-Kremlin sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right,” Mr. Flynn said then. “I accept full responsibility for my actions.” But then he took it all back.

Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI. He later withdrew his plea as exculpatory evidence emerged. 

Flynn served in the U.S. Army for three decades. He also served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under President Barack Obama. However, he felt Obama was not pursuing terrorists aggressively enough. He was eventually fired. He saw an opportunity to advocate for his views in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. A crowd favorite, Flynn was the warmup speaker for Trump on the campaign trail. When Trump won, he named Flynn his National Security Advisor. Flynn spent the transition planning an overhaul of national security strategy; his work continues to shape Trump’s policies.

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