President Trump refused to rule out a pardon for former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn Friday.
Speaking to reporters shortly before an appearance at an FBI National Academy graduation, Trump said he did not want to address the possibility of a pardon for Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI earlier this month.
“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters. “Let’s see, I can say this: When you look at what’s gone on with the FBI and the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.”
Trump attorney Ty Cobb later clarified the remark in a statement to CNN.
Trump has considered pardons for family members and staff caught up in the Russia investigation being led by former FBI head Robert Mueller before, but experts warn it could backfire. He can’t pardon for offenses under state law, meaning staffers could still be in legal jeopardy depending on their actions, and pardoned officials would no longer be able to avoid testifying publicly.
The president would also have to choose whether to pardon Flynn for the single offense he’s been charged with or issue a blanket pardon that covers other potentially illegal activity which he was not charged with.
Trump’s remarks were not the first time he’s criticized the FBI. He recently argued the bureau’s reputation is in “tatters,” although his own FBI director, Christopher Wray, told Congress in response that the bureau’s reputation was “quite good.”