US President Donald Trump on Wednesday pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In multiple conversations, in December 2016, Flynn discussed with Kislyak sanctions the Obama administration was imposing on Russian Federation for its interference in the 2016 election.
"Flynn pled guilty to those lies, twice". The scandal forced Flynn out of the White House after only 24 days, the shortest tenure of any US national security advisor.
He has since sought to withdraw the plea, arguing that prosecutors violated his rights and tricked him into a plea agreement.
But a federal judge has demanded a further judicial review of the matter.
The White House said on Wednesday that the pardon would finally end "the relentless, partisan pursuit of an innocent man".
"Congratulations to Gen. Flynn and his wonderful family", Trump tweeted.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), who heads the House Intelligence Committee, was among those who condemned the pardon as unwarranted.
Donald Trump fired Michael Flynn (above) just 22 days into his administration.
But Trump always defended Flynn, calling the case against him a politicized "witch hunt".
The President has long claimed - falsely - he and his campaign were illegally targeted and that campaign associates got into trouble only due to their association with him.
"He's gone through hell".
Mr Trump's supporters had championed the Flynn case and claimed he was the victim of an unfair, politically motivated prosecution.
Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that he had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and that former Obama administration officials had warned the White House that he could be vulnerable to blackmail. It said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States, and that any statements he may have made were not relevant to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe.
After Flynn replaced his lawyers and hired attorney Sidney Powell, his case became a central focus for concerns about improper political influence in law enforcement. Should President Trump's legal attempts to overturn the election fail, this may be his final pardon as President of the United States.
Flynn was among former aides to President Trump convicted during a justice department investigation into alleged Russian election interference.
Mr Trump has also granted pardons at the urging of Kim Kardashian West, who made her case in the Oval Office. Barr had been privately asked to dismiss the case by Powell in 2019.
It was, Gleeson wrote in a court filing, "an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based exclusively on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump".