In a move no less appalling for it being no surprise, President Trump has pardoned Michael Flynn, his disgraced former national security adviser. Add him to the rogue’s gallery — among them Joe Arpaio, Dinesh D’Souza, Rod Blagojevich, Bernard Kerik and Roger Stone — of criminals and reprobates to whom Trump has given executive clemency, their loyalty and obsequiousness winning them an escape from full accountability for their misdeeds.
But Flynn stands apart from the rest, because his whole story contains so much of the Trump era in microcosm.
And in pardoning Flynn, Trump has waged what may be his final biggest act of war on our country.
Back in 2016, Flynn was given a close advisory role to the Republican candidate, mostly because he was one of the few retired flag officers who would stand behind Trump. The fact that he was a loony conspiracy theorist and venomous Islamophobe (he once said Islam is “a malignant cancer”) only helped. At the time, he was also secretly working on behalf of the Turkish government.
Flynn’s 24-day tenure as national security adviser came to an end when routine government surveillance of the Russian ambassador discovered the two officials in conversation before Trump was inaugurated. When the FBI questioned Flynn about it, he lied to the agents about the substance of their conversations, as well as to others in the Trump White House.
Flynn pleaded guilty to his crime, and that could have been the end of it. But then — and this is where his story becomes even more a Trump story — he was adopted by the far right as a martyr, a victim of the so-called deep state, a hero whose only crime was service to Donald Trump.
Attorney General William P. Barr injected himself into the case this past May, seeking to undo Flynn’s guilty plea. To say it’s unusual for the nation’s chief prosecutor to come to the side of someone who has already pleaded guilty would be an understatement. Along with the commutation given to Stone, it was as vivid an illustration of the corruption of the Justice Department as one could imagine.
But before Flynn’s case could be resolved by the court, Trump stepped in with a pardon. Not because Flynn was innocent. Not because he received some draconian sentence (he hadn’t been sentenced yet) and justice demanded it. But simply because he’s one of Trump’s guys, one of a long list of criminals and thugs with whom this president has surrounded himself.
As Andrew McCabe pointed out on CNN yesterday, the entire Russia investigation might not have happened if Flynn had not lied to the FBI. That led to an FBI investigation that Trump tried to get FBI director James Comey to end. Comey’s refusal led Trump to fire him, leading to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor. Now Flynn, who twice pled guilty, has been pardoned.
David Frum at The Atlantic: Trump Pardoned Flynn to Save Himself.
Here’s the first and most important thing to understand about the crime for which President Trump just pardoned former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn: Flynn did not lie to protect himself. He lied to protect Donald Trump.
At the end of December 2016, Flynn had a series of conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. A month later, on January 24, 2017, Flynn was asked about those conversations by the FBI agent Peter Strzok.
In the first set of conversations, Flynn urged Kislyak to oppose a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity. The second set occurred a week later, while Flynn was on holiday in the Dominican Republic. There, Flynn sought to convince Kislyak to persuade the Russian government not to retaliate against the United States, over a round of sanctions punishing Russia for intervening in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump.
From Flynn’s own narrow personal point of view, there was no reason to lie about any of these conversations. Yes, he was pushing the limits a little bit, doing diplomacy before the new administration took office. A more elegant diplomat would have found a way to honor the rule that there’s only one administration at a time, while also communicating what he wanted the Russians to know about the differing intentions of the incoming administration. But such limit-pushing has surely happened often before in the history of American foreign policy. All Flynn had to say to avoid legal jeopardy was, “Yes, I spoke to Ambassador Kislyak. Possibly I was premature. My bad.”
Read the rest at The Atlantic. Trump’s pardon of Flynn is corrupt and he should be prosecuted for it. I don’t know who the next attorney general will be, but Biden says he won’t interfere with the Department of Justice. We can only hope that Trump will suffer some consequences for what he has done to our country.
As of yesterday, Trump and Rudy Giuliani were still trying to overturn the 2020 election. As usual, their efforts were bizarre and embarrassing. The Daily Beast: Trump Calls Into Rudy Giuliani’s Latest Election Fraud Pantomime.
President Donald Trump called into a bizarre “hearing” on voter fraud organized by Rudy Giuliani and Pennsylvania Republicans on Wednesday—part of a doomed attempt to overturn an election result that has been certified by the state.
After canceling an in-person appearance, Trump called campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis’ phone, which was held up to a microphone as people in the Gettysburg hotel room cheered.
“We have to turn the election over because there’s no doubt we have all the evidence, we have all the affidavits, we just need some judge to listen to it properly,” Trump said, after weeks of not producing any evidence of mass fraud in court. “Evidence is pouring in now as we speak.” [….]
In his rambling phone call from the Oval Office, Trump repeated his vague claims about the entire election being rigged, about winning every swing state, and about Republican poll watchers in Pennsylvania being “treated like dogs.” (In fact, COVID-19 restrictions meant all observers couldn’t be nearer than 25 feet to counters—a decision the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld.)
“This election was lost by the Democrats, they cheated, it was a fraudulent election, they flooded the market, they flooded everybody with ballots and I just want to thank everybody for being there,” Trump said. “This is a very important moment in the history of our country.”
Giuliani said he wanted a special prosecutor to probe those who ran the election.
“I think you have more than enough to say that this election, the numbers don’t add up,” he said. “It’s easy to figure out what the right numbers are by excluding the illegal votes. Out of the honest votes, the winner of the election changes.”
CNBC reports on the efforts of another Trump lawyer to overturn the Pennsylvania election results: Trump lawyer details far-fetched strategy to reverse Pennsylvania win for Biden.
A lawyer for President Donald Trump’s campaign on Wednesday revealed that the campaign could be relying on pulling off a complicated — and possibly unprecedented — legal and legislative trick shot to undo President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania and possibly in other states.
That far-fetched strategy would require a federal court to invalidate Pennsylvania’s certification of its election results, and then get the state’s General Assembly to agree to send Trump electors to the Electoral College.
The idea is buried in a footnote in a three-page letter that campaign attorney Marc Scaringi wrote to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.
The Trump campaign is asking that appeals court to hear its bid to block the effect of Tuesday’s certification of a win for Biden in Pennsylvania.