President Donald Trump said Thursday that he would “certainly consider” bringing Michael Flynn, a convicted felon who served as Trump’s first national security advisor, back into his administration.
“I think he’s a fine man, I think it’s terrible would they did to him,” Trump told a reporter at the White House who asked if he might bring Flynn back into the fold.
“It’s something that nobody’s asked me, but you’re asking me for the first time, I would certainly consider it, yeah, I would,” Trump said. “They did everything possible to destroy him and he’s still breathing very strongly.”
Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration. Flynn replaced his legal team last year and is now trying to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing he is the victim of misconduct by prosecutors.
Flynn’s sentencing is on hold as a federal judge in Washington, D.C., district court reviews his case.
“We’d look,” Trump said when asked what position Flynn might hold if he was brought back into the administration.
Trump said last month that he was “strongly considering” giving Flynn “a full pardon.”
When asked Thursday if he planned to pardon Flynn, Trump suggested that he wouldn’t need to because he expected Flynn would be exonerated.
“I’m not the judge, but I have a different type of power,” Trump said at an event about protecting U.S. seniors during the coronavirus crisis. “I don’t know that anybody would have to use that power. I think he’s exonerated, I’ve never seen anything like it … I guess we’ll get to that, maybe some day or maybe not, hopefully we won’t have to get there.”
Trump had spoken out about Flynn repeatedly earlier in the day: He tweeted and retweeted more than a dozen posts Thursday morning defending Flynn and slamming the FBI and its former director James Comey.
Trump fired Comey in May 2017 and later told NBC’s Lester Holt that the Russia probe was on his mind when he decided to terminate Comey. As a result, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Many of Trump’s posts referenced new documents that were unsealed in Flynn’s case overnight.
The documents include copies of emails from veteran FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, whom Trump has singled out repeatedly in his attacks against the agency.
Also included in the unsealed documents was a handwritten note of unclear origin, part of which reads: “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
In the Oval Office later Thursday, Trump told reporters that Flynn had been “tormented” by “dirty cops” at the FBI.
“They were trying to force him to lie,” Trump added.
Flynn served as Trump’s national security advisor for less than one month before resigning in mid-February of 2017. Trump said at the time that he asked Flynn to resign because he didn’t tell “the facts” about his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence.
“I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence,” Trump had said.
But on Thursday, Pence said he was leaning toward the view that Flynn had not intentionally misled him about those conversations.
“I’m inclined more than ever to believe that he — what he communicated to me back during the transition leading to our inauguration was unintentional,” Pence said during a visit to a General Motors plant in Indiana, “and that he was not attempting to misrepresent facts.”
“But the investigative, prosecutorial abuse that now is coming to light, people need to be held to account,” Pence said. “And I know what he told me. But I’m actually more inclined than ever to believe he unintentionally omitted facts when we had our conversation in January 2017.”
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