President Donald Trump on Friday did not rule out pardoning former national security advisor Michael Flynn, and again contended “there was no collusion” between his campaign and Russia.
“There is absolutely no collusion,” the president said as he left the White House for an address at a graduation ceremony at the FBI Academy. “That has been proven.”
However, the Justice Department’s special counsel has yet to complete an investigation on just that point; the same is the case for the House and Senate Intelligence committees, which are continuing to examine that very matter — despite Trump’s assertion it is a closed matter.
Asked if he is considering pardoning Flynn, the president responded he did not yet want to talk about potential pardons for the retired Army three-star general. But, notably, the president did not rule out such a move.
“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet,” Trump said. “We’ll see what happens. Let’s see.”
Flynn has pleaded guilty to one count of misleading federal officials, and experts say his being charged with only a single count by special counsel Robert S. Mueller is a sign he is cooperating. Flynn was a senior adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign.
“When you look at the committees, whether it’s the Senate or the House, my worst enemies, they walk out, they say, ‘There is no collusion, but we’ll continue to look.’”
Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., has said that his panel’s Russia election meddling probe has so far turned up “a lot of smoke,” but no “smoking gun.”
Trump’s comments come the day after his phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It was great,” the president said of the call. “He said very nice things about what I’ve done for this country in terms of the economy.”
“But he said, also, some negative things in terms of what’s going on elsewhere. The primary point was to talk about North Korea because we would love to have his help on North Korea,” he said. “China’s helping, Russia’s not helping. We’d like to have Russia’s help — very important.”
The call came as the Justice Department and several congressional panels continue to investigate Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Putin has denied the claims, with Trump signaling earlier this year that he believes the Russian leader was being sincere when he denied it during a private meeting.