President Donald Trump has told aides that he plans to issue a pardon to his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
The person said that while nothing is final until Trump does it, he has made it clear that it is one of a string of pardons he plans to issue before leaving office.
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with a Russian diplomat during the presidential transition in late 2016. Trump’s plans were reported earlier by Axios.
Flynn has since become a hero figure on the pro-Trump right, cast as a decorated patriot victimized by a politically motivated Russia “hoax” investigation of Trump. Flynn changed his legal team and began seeking to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he never lied to investigators.
In late September, a lawyer for Flynn told a judge that she had recently spoken to Trump, and asked him not to pardon her client.
The lawyer, Sidney Powell, has appeared alongside lawyers for Trump, including Rudy Giuliani, who are pressing their unfounded case that widespread voting fraud cost Trump the presidential election. After Powell floated particularly wild theories about supposed election plots, on Sunday Giuliani and another lawyer representing the Trump campaign, Jenna Ellis, said in a statement that Powell “is not a member of the Trump legal team.”
Past departing presidents have issued pardons and commutations near the end of their terms. Former President Bill Clinton drew harsh criticism for pardoning a wealthy Democratic donor in his final White House hours. But Democrats and legal experts fear that Trump will exercise his pardon power with a brazenness that shatters past precedent.
Trump has already commuted the sentence of Roger Stone, another associate ensnared in the Russia investigation who was convicted on seven felony counts and was to begin a 40-month term in federal prison.
Word of Trump’s intentions comes on a day when Trump presided over the annual White House turkey pardon. Trump ignored shouted questions from reporters at the Rose Garden about whether he plans actual pardons before leaving office.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.