(Nov. 25) President Trump’s Thanksgiving eve pardon of legally beleaguered retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will surely be controversial, but it was the right thing to do.

Flynn, who was national security adviser for the first 22 days of Trump’s presidency, had engaged in some decidedly dubious foreign business dealings and then been significantly less than forthright about that work and about conversations he had with a Russian diplomat. Still, there is a distinction to be made between actions that can be described in common parlance as “unethical” and those that are criminal. For almost four years now, Flynn has been harried by prosecutors and judges and had his name besmirched (including through unethical leaks, to the potential harm of national security) without solid evidence of having committed a crime.

Flynn was pressured into pleading guilty to perjury (actually, a near equivalent) in order to spare his son a prison sentence. Yet the supposed perjury itself, as we now know, was not considered a lie by the FBI agents whose queries precipitated the allegation. Moreover, the subject about which he supposedly perjured himself, the conversation with the Russian diplomat, already had been deemed by investigators as containing an “absence of any derogatory information or lead information.”

In other words, they weren’t sure that he lied, and they didn’t think he had done anything wrong in the first place that he would want to lie about.

Even worse (yes, worse), the “lying to the FBI” was a setup from the start. In common parlance, it was a classic perjury trap. Indeed, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe deliberately dissuaded Flynn from having attorneys present for the conversation in question, thus making it sound like an ordinary national security briefing rather than an interview with Flynn as the potential target of an investigation….

[The full column is here.]


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