Although US President Donald Trump has still not officially conceded to his Democratic rival Joe Biden, he must use his final days in office to secure his legacy. However, the Trump administration has proven that it is not afraid to make controversial decisions regardless of the timing and Trump recently pardoned his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
The Flynn Case
Flynn was convicted during a US Justice Department inquiry into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. The former National Security Advisor admitted in 2017 to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russia’s ambassador, but then tried to withdraw his plea.
It comes as no surprise that many Democrats jumped on the anti-Trump bandwagon when this news broke, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power.”
The case against Flynn did the Trump administration no favors, with Trump admitting that the former National Security Advisor lied to US Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI.
Flynn’s Case is a Judicial Slippery Slope
Last year, Flynn asked the federal judge to throw out his conviction because, he argued, the prosecutors and FBI agents on his case had engaged in misconduct. Yet a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general found that the bureau had sufficient evidence to investigate the former National Security Advisor as part of its inquiry into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Earlier this year, Attorney General William Barr suddenly dropped all criminal charges against Flynn. The Attorney General argued that the interview in which the former National Security Advisor admitted to lying to authorities was “conducted without any legitimate basis.”
The New York Times wrote that Flynn had had the constitutional right to remain silent, but he chose not to, and this case sets a dangerous precedent for defense lawyers across the US to seek similar concessions on behalf of their clients.
The Trump Administration Still Has Arrows in its Quiver
Of course, the Trump administration could go on the offensive and defend its reasons for pardoning Flynn. Clark Neily of the Cato Institute suggests that the two FBI agents who conducted the former National Security Advisor’s interview did not think that he had been deceitful during the interview, and that any inaccurate responses to their questions were the result of a memory lapse.
Furthermore, prosecutors may have withheld favorable evidence while exerting intolerable pressure on Mr. Flynn to plead guilty to crimes which prosecutors may well have known they would be unable to prove at trial.
The case against Trump’s former advisor may prove that the US justice system is fundamentally broken, and it is understandable why the President is pardoning Flynn before Biden has his say. However, if voters want to remember the Trump administration in a positive light during its final days in office, Trump should be focusing his attention on other issues in the coming weeks.
Trump has More Pressing Matters to Worry About
Regardless of how people may feel about the pardoning of Flynn, the case has reinforced the notion of Trump’s administration being corrupt and tied to Russia, even if they do not know everything about the legalities behind the former National Security Advisor’s case.
Why Flynn kept contradicting himself remains a mystery, and we may never know the full truth behind the investigation into his links with Russia.
The former Trump advisor’s pardon is likely to have a bad impact on the Trump administration no matter what. The best decision that the US President could make right now is to concentrate on China and lifting America out of the economic impact of the coronavirus. This would help voters forget about the bad impression that Flynn’s pardon has left on the Trump administration.