The family of former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, issued a statement Wednesday evening thanking President Donald Trump for pardoning him and for “undoing a hideous wrong.”
The president granted Flynn a full pardon on Wednesday in the midst of a four-year criminal case. Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying during a 2017 FBI interview over whether he had spoken to then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak during Trump’s 2016 transition period. But Flynn, who is represented by high-profile attorney Sidney Powell, later withdrew his plea, saying that he had accepted a plea deal because prosecutors were threatening his son with charges and his former lawyers hadn’t represented him effectively. He also repeatedly accused the government of misconduct related to his case.
“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. “Have a great life General Flynn!”
In a statement shared on Twitter, Flynn’s family said they are “forever appreciative” to the president for giving the former national security adviser back his freedom “in undoing a hideous wrong.”
“For four long years, our family and millions of American patriots stood arm-in-arm together with our brother, General Michael T. Flynn, fighting the vicious, deep-rooted corruption of government institutions and vengeful individuals intent of destroying General Flynn and our country in shameful defiance of justice and the Rule of Law,” his family wrote.
Before Flynn served as national security adviser in the Trump administration, he held the position of the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama era. Flynn’s case was used to support a narrative that Trump’s campaign colluded with the Kremlin in a bid to sway the 2016 election.
Trump, Flynn, and other Trump surrogates have categorically denied they colluded with Russia. Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s years-long investigation didn’t reveal any such collusion.
A number of Trump supporters believe that Flynn is the victim of politically motivated retaliation by the Obama administration. Flynn’s lawyers, including Powell, accused the FBI of using an entrapment plot to ensnare him.
In May, the Department of Justice dropped the case. But the presiding district judge, Emmet Sullivan, still hasn’t accepted or denied the dismissal.
Attorney General William Barr tapped a prosecutor in January to review the case. The review unearthed documents that prompted the prosecutor to recommend that the charges against Flynn should be dropped. Flynn has unsuccessfully asked the appeals court to make Sullivan accept the dismissal. The appeals court also rejected Flynn’s request to make Sullivan recuse himself.
Flynn’s family described Sullivan’s refusal to stop the prosecution as “a reprehensible assault against the Constitution” that will “live in infamy the world over and is his legacy.”
“Today, the Flynn family is grateful to President Donald J. Trump for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation by removing the heavy burden of injustice off the shoulders of our brother Michael, with a full pardon of innocence,” they wrote. “We thank president Trump for recognizing our brother’s sacrifice in this battle for truth, our Constitution, our Republic and all that American stands for around the world—a true beacon of liberty.”
“Let our nation never allow this violation of an American’s civil rights under the law happen again,” the statement added.
News of the Flynn’s pardon was met with criticism from Trump’s political opponents, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calling it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power.”
“Donald Trump has repeatedly abused the pardon power to reward friends and protect those who covered up for him,” Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House intelligence committee, wrote on Twitter. “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.”
President pro tempore of the Senate Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) responded on Twitter that he was glad that the “politically motivated” charges had been pardoned by the president and demanded transparency from the bureaucracy over the case.
“Lt gen Flynn being pardoned doesn’t take DOJ off the hook to continue 2Produce + declassify Flynn investigation records that I & others in Congress hv been asking for TRANSPARENCY,” he wrote. “[C]an’t end here.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany issued a statement saying that the president pardoned Flynn “because he should never have been prosecuted.”
“An independent review of General Flynn’s case by the Department of Justice—conducted by respected career professionals—supports this conclusion,” McEnany said. “In fact, the Department of Justice has firmly concluded that the charges against General Flynn should be dropped. This Full Pardon achieves that objective, finally bringing to an end the relentless, partisan pursuit of an innocent man.”
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.