President Donald Trump alluded Tuesday that he would welcome retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn back into his administration now that the former national security adviser’s three-year legal battle over lying to the FBI during the Russia probe is close to evaporating.
“He’s gone through hell. He’s been destroyed, but he’ll make a comeback,” Trump told CBS News’ Catherine Herridge during an exclusive interview on Tuesday. “He’s gonna make a great comeback.”
When Herridge asked the President if he would consider taking Flynn back at the White House, Trump replied, “I would, I think he’s a great gentleman.”
The President’s comments come as Trump and his allies have fought to depict Flynn as a victim of the “deep state,” an amorphous Trump conspiracy surrounding special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Flynn, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, supported Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and became the President’s first national security adviser before he was removed from that post by the President less than a month into his service. Trump pushed Flynn out of the post in February 2017, after it was revealed that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn later also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Kislyak and became embroiled in a messy legal fight over the course three years, as he attempted to delay his sentencing, switched up his legal team and attempted to withdraw his guilty plea.
The DOJ, under the helm of Attorney General William Barr, intervened in Flynn’s case earlier this year by watering down the Justice Department’s initial sentencing recommendation and arguing that Flynn’s 2016 conversations with the Russian ambassador were not “material” to any legitimate counterintelligence investigation. Multiple DOJ prosecutors working the case withdrew from prosecuting the case after Barr’s bizarre intervention, believed to be politically-fueled.
In May, the Justice Department announced it was dropping the case against Flynn, but the judge overseeing the case, Emmet Sullivan, brought in a so-called amicus to review the case and brief him on how to proceed. The move ignited a messy back-and-forth between Sullivan and an appeals court, which Flynn asked to intervene on his behalf. Last month the appellate panel ruled that Sullivan had exceeded his authority in his continued pursuit of the case. And just last week, Sullivan asked a D.C. Circuit to weigh in.
Trump’s recent support of Flynn comes after the President commuted the prison sentence of his former political adviser and friend, Roger Stone on Friday night.
Hours later, an emboldened Trump, also defended Flynn in a tweet citing an OANN theory that claimed “new documents” had surfaced that vindicated the ex-Trump official. “General Flynn was telling the truth, and the FBI knew it!” Trump wrote.
Trump has always been generous in his praise of Flynn, touting the former lieutenant general’s “many, many decades” of military service. In last week’s tweets, Trump insisted that the “highly respected” Flynn was treated unfairly by investigators.
“What Gen. Flynn went through is so unfair. And he’s still going through it.”
Free from the heat of the Russia probe, Trump’s commendation of Flynn is a far-cry from his attempts to distance himself from his former national security adviser while the foreign election interference investigation was ongoing.
“I don’t think he’s going to need a pardon because he’s been proven to be innocent,” Trump said. “I don’t think he’s going to need a pardon.”