WASHINGTON (AP) — United States (US) President Donald Trump voiced strong support on Thursday for his former national security advisor Michael Flynn, raising speculation that a pardon may be coming after Flynn’s lawyers disclosed internal FBI documents they claim show the FBI tried to “intentionally frame” him.
Trump said he believes Flynn should now be cleared in court, but if that doesn’t happen, he as President has “a different type of power”.
“It looks to me like Michael Flynn would be exonerated based on everything I see,” Trump told reporters on Thursday. “I’m not the judge, but I have a different type of power. But I don’t know that anybody would have to use that power. I think he’s exonerated.”
Trump has long said he is considering pardoning Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US.
The President spent Wednesday night and Thursday morning retweeting supportive statements of Flynn and condemned the FBI’s investigation into his onetime adviser
“They came at him with 15 buses and he’s standing in the middle of the highway. What they did to this man,” Trump said at an earlier event at the White House, without specifying what he meant.
“They tormented him. They destroyed him. But he’s going to come back.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called into Fox News Channel to react to the release of the FBI documents, saying, “If true, it is extremely troubling.”
“If all this proves to be true, you will have, certainly, a major, major error on the part of top leadership at the FBI, which could well warrant additional charges against them,” he said.
Lawyers for Flynn over the last two days released a series of internal correspondence obtained through a Justice Department review of the handling of the case.
They contend the documents bolster their allegations that Flynn was set up to lie when he was questioned at the White House three years ago, and show that agents were prepared to drop an investigation into him just weeks before they set out to question him.
Still, the documents don’t directly address the central allegation in the case — that Flynn lied to the FBI. It’s also unclear how much significance they will carry with the judge, who has already publicly scolded Flynn and rejected many defence allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. The judge, Emmet Sullivan, has not ruled on Flynn’s request to withdraw his guilty plea.
Flynn — who was among the first of the President’s aides charged in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia — has emerged as something of a cause celebre for supporters of the President.
They have rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general and seized on the findings of a critical watchdog report on the Russia investigation to try to cast doubt on the entire probe.
Trump has not been shy about using his pardon power to help political allies and those he believes have been wronged by an out-of-control justice system. He has also expressed a desire to intervene in the case of another ally: long-time political advisor Roger Stone.