President Donald Trump on Thursday hailed Michael Flynn’s move to hire a new lawyer who has been a fierce critic of the FBI’s probe of the former national security adviser.
“General Michael Flynn, the 33 year war hero who has served with distinction, has not retained a good lawyer, he has retained a GREAT LAWYER, Sidney Powell,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “Best Wishes and Good Luck to them both!”
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The message from Trump is one of the strongest indicators that Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with the then-Russian ambassador during the presidential transition, still remains in the president’s good graces and hints that a pardon may still be within the realm of possibility.
Flynn continues to be the recipient of the president’s public support despite his having been fired for having lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversation with the Russian ambassador.
Last week, Flynn fired his legal team, and hired Powell, a former Justice Department attorney who has publicly dinged the investigation into Flynn, accusing the FBI of spying on the former general as part of a “set up,” arguing that he should withdraw his guilty plea and that his case should be dismissed.
Flynn’s former legal team, which generally took a less hostile approach to his defense, attempted to advance such an argument late last year, earning his lawyers an admonishment from the judge handling his case.
Powell told POLITICO on Wednesday that Flynn would continue to cooperate with the government while he awaits sentencing.
Trump’s tweet comes less than a week after federal prosecutors released the audio of a voicemail left by former Trump lawyer John Dowd for one of Flynn’s attorneys just after Flynn withdrew from a joint defense agreement with the president in order to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller. In the voicemail, Dowd appeals to Flynn lawyer Robert Kelner for a “heads up” on information that could implicate the president and compromise “national security.”
“Remember what we’ve always said about the president and his feelings toward Flynn and … that still remains,” Dowd said.
Though a transcript of that voicemail was included in Mueller’s report, the audio release has renewed speculation that the Trump team was dangling a pardon. Trump has appeared to hint at possible pardons for several of his former associates who were wrapped up in Mueller’s investigation, repeatedly refusing to rule them out for Flynn or his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.