President Donald Trump on Wednesday pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Reuters informed.
Trump’s pardon, which could be the first of several after he lost the 2020 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden, drew condemnation from Democrats and other critics.
A retired Army general, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about interactions he had with Russia’s ambassador to the United States in the weeks leading up to Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.
He has since sought to withdraw the plea, arguing that prosecutors violated his rights and duped him into a plea agreement. His sentencing has been deferred several times.
“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!” Trump wrote on Twitter, a day before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, who told a court in September she personally asked Trump not to pardon her client, said the pardon was “bittersweet” because Flynn was innocent.
Trump’s move was the highest-profile pardon he has granted since he took office. Among others, the Republican president has pardoned Army personnel accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and Joe Arpaio, a former Arizona sheriff and hardliner against illegal immigration.
“This pardon is undeserved, unprincipled, and one more stain on President Trump’s rapidly diminishing legacy,” House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power.”