As he was leaving the White House Friday morning to visit the FBI, Donald Trump sounded like he might entertain the idea of pardoning disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pled guilty on December 1 to a charge of lying to federal agents.
“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We’ll see what happens. Let’s see.”
Not long after Trump refused to take pardons off the table, Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) appeared on CNN and had a stern warning for the president. Heck, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told host Kate Bolduan:
“If President Trump pardons Mike Flynn or any of the other people involved in this, I confidently predict it will be the beginning of the unraveling of his presidency.”
Congressman Heck then added that part of Flynn’s plea agreement included a binding agreement that he cooperates fully with state and local authorities, a presidential pardon only partially protects Flynn:
“The president can pardon these people for violations of federal crimes, but cannot pardon them for violations of state crimes.”
Heck also questioned if Trump actually understands the basics of American law and the Constitution:
“So, if he thinks he’s going to give them a ‘get out of jail free’ card, he’s flat wrong. Once again, this president—who seems frankly, on so many occasions not to embrace the basic and fundamental American precept of the rule of law—he just doesn’t get it.”
Asked about his GOP colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee who have tried to speed up the Russia investigation out of political expediency, Heck replied:
“[They’re] trying to get to the end of the investigation at a rate or at a velocity which is completely out of sync with what is necessary to do this job.”
Republicans don’t want the taint of the Russia investigation to be hanging over them as the 2018 midterm elections begin to take shape. Just like Donald Trump, they know Russia is their Achilles heel, and they’re terrified of the consequences.