Adam Schiff Says If Trump Pardons Michael Flynn He'd Be 'Acting Like An Organized Crime Figure'

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) said President Donald Trump would be "acting like an organized crime figure" if he were to pardon former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN anchor John Berman on Wednesday morning that such a move "frankly reflects so ill on our democracy, on the United States."

"Imagine what people around the world think when we have a president who's acting like an organized crime figure," he added. "But this is who Donald Trump is. It's who he was on his way into the presidency, it will be exactly who he is on his last days of the presidency."

Axios reported late Tuesday that Trump told confidants he plans to pardon Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about his contacts with Russia during the 2016 transition. Flynn was the only former White House official to plead guilty in the probe led by former special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia's election interference.

CNN also recently reported that talks were ongoing at the White House about pardoning the former national security adviser, who served less than a month in the Trump administration.

Schiff didn't dispute that Trump had the authority to pardon Flynn, but clarified that the power wasn't "absolute" and the president likely couldn't attempt to pardon himself without going into court.

Flynn's legal saga has been a drawn-out battle, during which he's avoided being sentenced to prison.

In May, the Justice Department abruptly moved to drop the case based on a review of the case ordered by Attorney General William Barr. The internal review found that Flynn's false statements weren't "material" to the Russia probe and therefore weren't a crime.

At the time, Trump said he was "very happy" about the DOJ's decision and that "what happened to General Flynn should never happen again." But the Justice Department's attempt to dismiss the case has since been tied up in federal court.

In September, Flynn's attorney Sidney Powell said at a court hearing that she recently spoke with Trump about the politically charged case and that she asked the president not to pardon Flynn.

If Trump did decide to pardon Flynn, it wouldn't be the first time that the president did so for a member of his inner circle. Earlier this year, Trump commuted the sentence of former associate Roger Stone. Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison for crimes including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.

Schiff told CNN on Wednesday that a Flynn pardon "would send a message that at least as far as President Trump is concerned if you lie on his behalf, if you cover up for him, he will reward you, he will protect you, but only if he thinks it's in his interest."

Newsweek reached out to the White House and to Flynn's attorney but did not receive a response prior to publication.

adam schiff press conference june 2020
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill on June 30, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Amid reports about a possible pardon for Michael Flynn, Schiff said President Donald Trump was acting like an "organized crime figure." Tasos Katopodis/Getty