Washington — Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn lasted less than a month on the job as President Trump’s first national security adviser before being fired in February 2017 for lying to the vice president about his interactions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
On Tuesday, President Trump said he would welcome Flynn back to the White House.
“I would. I think he’s a great gentleman,” the president told CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge in an exclusive interview. “He’s a great — he’s been in the military for many, many decades, actually. Highly respected. What General Flynn went through is so unfair.”
Flynn has spent the last three years in the throes of the justice system. He pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI, but his sentence was delayed after he agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election.
Flynn has since tried to withdraw that guilty plea and the Justice Department moved to drop the criminal charge against him, citing records withheld from Flynn’s defense team and saying Flynn’s 2016 conversations with the Russian ambassador were not “material” to any legitimate counterintelligence investigation. A federal appeals court will soon decide Flynn’s fate.
“I don’t think he’s going to need a pardon because he’s been proven to be innocent,” the president said. “I don’t think he’s going to need a pardon.”
Mr. Trump has long claimed that Flynn was the victim of rogue federal agents conducting a politically motivated investigation. A second Justice Department investigation examining the origins of the Mueller probe is underway but has yielded no known indictments.
The president said he is letting that investigation, led by U.S. Attorney John Durham, proceed without intervening. “I’ve totally taken myself out of it,” he said.
But Mr. Trump stopped short of saying he regretted firing Flynn, blaming others in his administration for providing faulty information.
“You have to understand. I was given information that he lied.”
On Friday, the president commuted the prison sentence of Roger Stone, a longtime ally and advisor also indicted in the Mueller investigation. A jury convicted Stone of witness tampering and lying to Congress. He was sentenced to more than three years in prison before the president intervened.
Stone said he would campaign for Mr. Trump leading up to the November election. Asked whether he would allow that, the president said, “Hey, Roger’s free.”