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Despite twice pleading guilty, Flynn gets pardon from Trump

Flynn twice pleaded guilty to felonies -- under oath and in open court -- but Donald Trump pardoned him anyway.


We knew it was coming, but that doesn't make the developments any easier to stomach.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he had granted a "full pardon" to his former national security adviser, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

In a pre-Thanksgiving tweet, the outgoing president, who has a habit of abusing his pardon power, wrote, "It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to [Flynn] and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!"

In case anyone needs a refresher, let's take a stroll down memory lane and review how we reached this point.

It was just a few years ago when federal prosecutors charged Flynn after he lied to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian government, lied to investigators about being a paid foreign agent, and acted illegally as an unregistered foreign agent while working on the Trump campaign.

Flynn soon after admitted he lied, twice pleaded guilty -- under oath and in open court -- and became a cooperating witness with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

In December 2018, a conservative federal judge told Flynn during a sentencing hearing, "Arguably, you sold your country out" by working as a foreign agent. The judge even briefly broached the subject of whether Flynn committed "treason."

Flynn then changed his lawyers and decided he wasn't guilty after all. Soon after, Attorney General Bill Barr took an interest in the case, and in early May, the Justice Department announced it was dropping all of the charges. As difficult as it was to believe, Barr's DOJ concluded that it could not prove Flynn is guilty of the crimes to which he'd already pleaded guilty.

The judge overseeing the case, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, was unimpressed. In fact, he was so dissatisfied with what appeared to be an obvious political scheme that he appointed a retired federal judge to present arguments in opposition to the Justice Department's request to dismiss the charges against Flynn. Over the summer, that retired judge, John Gleeson, submitted a rather brutal filing, describing prosecutors' claims in the case as "preposterous" and accusing the Justice Department of exercising a "gross abuse of prosecutorial power."

With the matter unresolved, and his presidency ending, Trump intervened, pardoned his disgraced former adviser, and once again made a mockery of the Republican's professed interest in "law and order."

This may not have been Trump's first abuse of his pardon power, but it's certainly the toughest to defend.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) added this afternoon, "It's no surprise that Trump would go out just as he came in – crooked to the end."