President Donald Trump said Sunday he is "strongly considering" a full pardon of his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
It was unclear what sparked Trump's tweet Sunday, which came amid the coronavirus outbreak. Trump said "it is reported that" the FBI and the Justice Department "lost" records related to Flynn. Flynn's attorney, Sidney Powell, has accused the FBI of tampering with the interview notes of her client.
Trump tweets he is considering pardon for FlynnMarch 15, 202001:16
The Justice Department and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment about what Trump was referring to.
Although he pleaded guilty in late 2017, admitting he lied to the FBI about conversations during the Trump transition period with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Flynn has sought to withdraw his guilty plea, alleging FBI misconduct. That has delayed his sentencing hearing, which had been scheduled to take place Feb. 27.
Last month, NBC News reported that the Justice Department had opened an inquiry into the FBI's interview of Flynn while he briefly served as Trump's national security adviser.
Attorney General William Barr asked the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, Jeffrey Jensen, to review the matter, people familiar with the inquiry said.
In October, Trump tweeted that Flynn's prosecution was "a disgrace." Earlier last year, he asked "why was I not told" about Flynn's being under investigation sooner "so that I could make a change?"
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Barr's efforts to take a heavier role in matters within the Justice Department that are of personal interest to the president, including the Flynn case and the sentencing of Trump associate Roger Stone, have come under scrutiny in recent months. Barr is set to testify later this month in front of the House Judiciary Committee about his personal involvement in cases relating to allies of the president (it's unclear whether the coronavirus outbreak will delay the hearing).
Trump's tweet Sunday comes nearly a month after he granted clemency to a series of people. He commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was serving a lengthy prison term on corruption charges. Trump also pardoned former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was sentenced in 2010 to four years in prison after pleading guilty to felony charges, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials.