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Why has Trump pardon Michael Flynn?

What had been speculated for a long time finally came to pass, President Trump has pardoned former disgraced National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Why has Trump pardon Michael Flynn?
SAUL LOEB AFP

President Trump announced on Wednesday that he has granted a “full pardon” to his first National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, by tweet of course. This is not necessarily the end of his three-year-long legal saga that helped to kick off the Mueller investigation after a series of firings, primarily the Director of the FBI James Comey.

The Russia Investigation as it is also known has plagued the Trump administration for the duration of his presidency even though the final report was released in 2019. The investigation did not lead to Trump’s eventual impeachment by the House of Representatives that was because of the “perfect phone call” Trump made to the President of Ukraine to get that countries government to meddle in the 2020 campaign and the cover-up.

Who is Michael Flynn?

Michael Flynn a former three-star general had a distinguished 33-year career in the Army. He helped transform the Special Operations forces into “history’s most lethal terrorist hunting network.” He was a maverick whose gung-ho style did not go down well with the Obama administration. He was forcibly retired at age 55 when he was sacked as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency by President Barack Obama in 2014.

After he left the military, he began speaking on Fox News and criticizing the Obama administration handling of the War on Terror. There he caught the eye of Donald Trump and Flynn began advising him on foreign policy matters. After Trump won the 2016 election, he tapped Flynn to be his National Security Advisor even though Obama personally warned Trump that Flynn was “not suitable” for the position.

Flynn’s foreign connections

During his time advising candidate Trump Flynn was also working to improve the image of Turkey with a company that was directly linked to the Turkish government. As well he was in contact with the Russian ambassador Kislyak. Both of these would cause legal complications for Flynn.

After Trump was sworn in as the 45th President he named Flynn his National Security Advisor but Flynn lied to the transition team, in particular to Vice-President Mike Pence, that he had not had conversations with the ambassador Kislyak. The intelligence services knew this to be false because they had communication intercepts with Flynn talking to Kislyak.

Eventually as more and more information became public and the White House embarrassed about what they did and did not know Flynn was fired. At just 24 days as National Security Advisor it was the shortest tenure in the positions 63-year history.

Congressional investigations

For a time Fylnn was cooperating with Congressional investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and there was much hope that he could give an insider look into what was known in the Trump campaign. However, now President Trump was trying to bend the various departments involved in the investigation to his will which famously resulted in him firing FBI director James Comey. Comey wouldn’t drop the investigation of Flynn nor kowtow to the President.

A special counsel was appointed which was led by Robert Mueller. As part of a deal with the special counsel Flynn agreed to cooperate with the investigation and admitted guilt to the crime of lying to the FBI in court. This began his three-year-long journey through the courts.

Flynn becomes a cause celebre of the right

Trump has always denied any involvement between his campaign and the Russians. Throughout the process he was often criticized for signaling to people that were facing criminal charges related to the inquires that he would grant them pardons, Flynn among them. He often said that Michael Flynn was being unfairly treated.

This became a common sentiment among conservatives and Flynn came to be the central  focus of anger toward the FBI that they were unfairly targeting Trump and those around him in their investigations. As part of his deal with the Mueller team Flynn expected that he wouldn’t serve any time in prison. But when it was made clear that the judge overseeing Flynn’s case was not on the same page Flynn hired a new legal team that had the ear of the President.

Why the Pardon?

It has long been expected that Michael Flynn would be pardoned by Trump even though the President expressed the wish for the legal battle to play out to prove his innocence. Now that Trump’s days in office are numbered the luxury of waiting it out in a second term is not an option. It is expected that Trump will begin to pardon others that were part of the Russia investigation.

There is speculation that the President may be laying the ground work for pardoning himself to avoid any legal jeopardy that he may face once he leaves office. By pardoning Flynn, and possibly others, Trump can create the narrative that there really was nothing to all the investigations into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. However, even if he pardons himself, he could still face legal troubles at the state level as his pardon only applies to federal crimes.

Joe Biden has said that he doesn’t want to investigate Trump once he is in office but if a new investigation were brought against Trump, Flynn again could be called to testify. By pardoning him the leverage that investigators would have over him is now diminished but all his prior testimony to the FBI is still there. Were he to lie again, it’ll be back to square one.

For a full timeline of the events that led to Michael Flynn’s prosecution you can check PolitiFact.