Michael Flynn's Crimes Back Under Spotlight Amid Trump Pardon Rumors

President Donald Trump has told close aides he intends to pardon his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, according to reports that first emerged in Axios on Tuesday.

Though the White House has not confirmed whether Flynn will receive a presidential pardon, the rumors have brought his actions and legal troubles into renewed focus.

Flynn is a retired lieutenant general who worked on Trump's transition team. During that period, he had a phone call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about then-President Barack Obama's sanctions against the country for its interference in the 2016 election.

Flynn became the president's first national security advisor after Trump assumed office. While in that role, he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Kisylak.

In January, Flynn was interviewed by the FBI without a lawyer as part of a counterintelligence investigation into Russia. He resigned on February 13, 2017 as a result of lying to Pence.

In December of that year, Flynn entered into a formal deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose probe was examining potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Flynn plead guilty to "willfully and knowingly" making false statements to the FBI—a felony—and agreed to co-operate with Mueller's investigation. However, in January 2020 Flynn moved to withdraw his guilty plea.

By this time the former national security advisor had replaced his legal team and William Barr had been named attorney general. Barr appointed a federal prosecutor to look into Flynn's case and they concluded his FBI interview was "conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.."

Though the Department of Justice moved to drop all charges against Flynn, District Judge Emmet Sullivan did not agree immediately to the DOJ's request. He sought outside legal expertise on the matter.

Flynn's legal team filed an appeal in order to force Sullivan to comply with the DOJ's motion to drop the charges. In August this year, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Sullivan. This ruling allowed Sullivan to review the motion to drop the charges. The judge could still ultimately agree to rule in Flynn's favor.

If the president chooses to pardon Flynn, his protracted legal battles will become academic. However, it is important to note that accepting a pardon is not an admission of guilt, as is sometimes wrongly believed.

 Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn
President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on June 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Flynn is reportedly in line for a presidential pardon. Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images