Pence Says Flynn Omission on Russians May Have Been Unintended
(Bloomberg) -- Vice President Mike Pence said he increasingly believes former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn didn’t intend to mislead him about conversations with a Russian official before President Donald Trump took office.
“I’m more inclined to believe it was unintentional than ever before,” Pence told reporters on Thursday after a tour of a General Motors plant in Indiana that’s building hospital ventilators. “When you see the nature of abusive actions by Justice Department officials toward him, it’s deeply troubling.”
A U.S. district judge unsealed several pages of Federal Bureau of Investigation emails and handwritten notes about a January 2017 interview with Flynn, as part of the probe into Russian inteference in the 2016 election. The agents’ notes indicated they knew Flynn might lie to them, and one note asked whether the goal of the interview should be to “get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
Flynn was charged with lying to investigators. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 but withdrew his plea in January before he was sentenced and is now seeking to have his criminal case dismissed.
Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation in February 2017, just weeks after he took office, in part because Pence believed Flynn had lied to him about conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. at the time, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn said in his resignation letter that he had “inadvertently” misinformed Pence as well as Trump about discussing U.S. sanctions with the ambassador.
Pence asserted in a television interview in January 2017, after speaking with Flynn, that no one on Trump’s campaign had contacts with Russians and that the retired Army lieutenant general hadn’t discussed sanctions with Kislyak.
Pence said Thursday it was up to the president to decide whether to pardon Flynn. He called Flynn “a patriotic American.”
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.