Outgoing President Donald Trump has begun handing out pardons to his friends, the first of which went to disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, thus admitting that Flynn is guilty in the process.
Flynn got busted for lying to the FBI twice in 2017 and resigned from his White House gig for failing to disclose contacts with Russian officials. Flynn would go on to plead guilty in a court of law as part of a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller during the Russia investigation.
Prior to sentencing, Flynn decided to play for intervention from Trump and corrupt Attorney General Bill Barr by withdrawing his plea. Barr and Trump obliged by interfering with the prosecution.
Again, Flynn pleaded guilty, so he should have to pay for his crimes. But Trump once again tried to cover for him by granting him a pardon via Twitter.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 25, 2020
The problem is that this pardon is basically an admission of guilt because Flynn would not need to be pardoned if he didn’t commit a crime. Also, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner pointed out that Judge Emmet Sullivan can hold a hearing and rule that the pardon is illegitimate.
Trump pardons Flynn. No surprise. This is another in what likely will be a steady stream of corrupt pardons. Just as Judge Emmet Sullivan refused to grant Barr’s corrupt motion to dismiss, I hope Judge Sullivan sets a hearing on whether this pardon is corrupt & hence illegal/void
— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) November 25, 2020
During a hearing in 2018, Sullivan ripped Flynn a new one for betraying the nation.
“All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security advisor to the president of the United States,” Sullivan said. “That undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out.”
Presumably, Sullivan won’t tolerate Trump’s attempt to let his buddy skate.
Trump’s pardon for Flynn also sparked renewed concerns that Trump will try to pardon himself to avoid being prosecuted for crimes he committed while in office that he has not been prosecuted for because of a Justice Department memo that says a sitting president cannot be indicted.
Of course, such a pardon would be yet another admission of guilt. But it turns out that another Justice Department memo authored in 1974 from the Office of Legal Counsel makes it clear that a president cannot issue a self-pardon.
“Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary C. Lawton wrote at the time.
Since Trump and his minions had no problem pointing to a legal memo to protect him from prosecution while in office for committing obstruction of justice, it stands to reason that they would also have to recognize another memo that says Trump can’t pardon himself. That doesn’t mean he won’t try, but such a move would be illegitimate in the eyes of the law, unconstitutional, unethical, and a complete admission of guilt that can be used against him by federal prosecutors in court.
Make no mistake, Trump is going to use his last months in office to serially abuse his pardon power, and every single one will be corrupt as hell and should be rejected as a conspiracy to cover up vast criminal activity. Letting Trump get away with it would be arguably an even greater crime.
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