On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump announced that he pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The president announced the move in a Tweet.
In December 2017, Flynn formalized a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to plead guilty to a felony count of "willfully and knowingly" making false statements to the FBI, and agreed to cooperate with the Special Counsel's investigation.
In January 2020, Flynn moved to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming government vindictiveness and breach of the plea agreement. The United States Department of Justice announced that it intended to drop all charges against Flynn on May 7, 2020.
Flynn, with his son Michael G. Flynn, ran the Flynn Intel Group Inc, which provided intelligence services for businesses and governments. The company was founded in the fall of 2014, and closed in 2016.
Flynn was paid more than $65,000 by companies connected to Russia in 2015, including $11,250 each from Volga-Dnepr Airlines and the U.S. subsidiary of Kaspersky Lab. Other clients included Palo Alto Networks, Francisco Partners, Brainwave Science and Adobe Systems.
While working as a consultant, Flynn served on the board of several organizations, including GreenZone Systems, Patriot Capital, Brainwave, Drone Aviation and OSY Technologies. Subsidiaries of the Flynn Intel Group included FIG Cyber Inc, headed by Timothy Newberry, and FIG Aviation.
"This doesn't surprise anybody... Within the Trump orbit, pardons go and will continue to go to the guilty and the silent and Michael Flynn has been both: Pleading guilty to lying to the FBI and silent about what he knows" - @FrankFigliuzzi1 w/ @NicolleDWallace pic.twitter.com/IL1EFavZhc
— Deadline White House (@DeadlineWH) November 25, 2020
In July 2018, the consulting firm Stonington Global LLC announced that Flynn was joining the firm as its director of global strategy, though Flynn's attorneys disputed that there had ever been a partnership several hours later.
On March 24, 2017, former Director of the CIA James Woolsey said that in September 2016 Flynn, while working for the Trump presidential campaign, had attended a meeting in a New York hotel with Turkish officials including foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and energy minister Berat Albayrak, son-in-law of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and had discussed abducting Fethullah Gülen and sending him to Turkey, which bypassed the US extradition legal process.
Flynn sat in on classified national security briefings with then-candidate Trump at the same time that Flynn was working for foreign clients, which raises ethical concerns and conflicts of interest. Flynn was paid at least $5,000 to serve as a consultant to a U.S.-Russian project to build 40 nuclear reactors across the Middle East, which Flynn's failure to disclose was flagged by Representatives Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel as a possible violation of federal law.
On August 16, 2016, the FBI opened a case on Flynn as part of its Crossfire Hurricane investigation. The investigation was intended to find out if Flynn was knowingly or unknowingly "involved in activity on behalf of the Russian Federation which may constitute a federal crime or threat to the national security" of the United States.
A review of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, done by Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, was completed in December 2019. It concluded that "the quantum of information articulated by the FBI to open" the individual investigation on Flynn "was sufficient to satisfy the low threshold established by the Justice Department and the FBI". The review "did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open" the investigation against Flynn.
BREAKING: President Trump grants full pardon to Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. https://t.co/qBp9MhCAnf pic.twitter.com/ug7P5lX33X
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 25, 2020