President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, despite his guilty plea over lying to the FBI.
Trump announced the pardon in a tweet on Wednesday:
“It is my Great Honour to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted.
“Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”
The pardon is part of a Trump effort to undo the results of a Russia investigation that yielded criminal charges against several associates.
It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.
For Trump's supporters, Flynn is seen as a victim of unfair prosecution even though Flynn twice admitted guilt.
In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.
Democrats condemned the pardon as undeserved.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”
“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement.
“Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump."
Flynn was fired in February 2017 after it emerged that the Obama administration had warned the White House Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian diplomat Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn's case has been defined by complicated twists, including this past spring when the US Justice Department moving to dismiss the case, a decision courts later overturned.
Flynn's lawyer Sidney Powell tried to get a federal appeals court to directly dismiss the case, but the full court sent it back to a district judge.
Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.