President Donald Trump’s pardon of (ret) Gen. Michael Flynn closes a dark chapter that few could have expected to see unfold here in the world’s oldest and greatest democracy. The full account of Flynn’s story appears rather to have been excerpted from the history of a totalitarian regime as it first became aware of its appetite for absolute power. At least there is clarity now. After watching the fate of Trump’s first national security advisor buffeted by the institutions designed to ensure the rule of law, Americans can no longer afford to ignore the forces lining up against them.
Flynn deserved to be cleared through the justice system. But that route was foreclosed by the extraordinary and unconstitutional efforts of the judge presiding over his case, Emmet Sullivan, to prolong the prosecution after the Department of Justice filed a motion to withdraw its spurious case against Flynn for lying to the FBI. Government documents released in the spring showed that he had been framed by senior DOJ and FBI officials under the direction of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. With the 2020 election outcome uncertain and a potential Biden administration certain to use any means at hand to target the Trump circle, the safest option was pardoning an innocent man.
To the half of the country whose information stream is controlled by tech oligarchs, not even an act of God would’ve cleared Flynn’s name. It was the media, after all, that served as a platform for Obama officials to advance the Russiagate conspiracy theory and libel the retired three-star general as a Kremlin “asset.”
On Jan. 12, 2017, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius published the leak of a classified intercept of a call between Trump’s incoming national security advisor and the Russian ambassador to the United States. A Washington Post news article a month later was also sourced to the intercept. Leaking foreign intelligence intercepts is a felony. Because only a limited number of officials have access to documents classified at that level, identifying the criminals would not be difficult. But after almost four years, no one has been charged with the crime.
Obama deputies across the previous administration had their knives out for Flynn even before Trump was inaugurated. The FBI knew that the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency would be able to find evidence of its illegal spying operation against the Trump campaign. Senior CIA officials worried that Flynn’s proposed reforms of the intelligence bureaucracy would shrink its budgets and prestige. Documents declassified in the spring showed that at least 40 Obama lieutenants had Flynn under surveillance, evidence that the former president had promoted a culture of spying on Americans for political purposes.
Obama himself had his reasons for going after Flynn. He was obsessed with Flynn. He told Trump not to hire him. Flynn was a vocal opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative. To protect Obama’s legacy, Flynn had to go. After he left the White House in February 2017, special counsel prosecutors threatened to indict his son unless he pled guilty. The FBI agents who interviewed Flynn said he hadn’t lied. When the DOJ moved to withdraw its case this May, Obama said publicly that Flynn should be charged with perjury. Sullivan appointed a former judge to make Obama’s case against Flynn. With every motion Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell filed, the court proceedings attracted more followers, watching and listening as the justice system was twisted in real time to satisfy the vindictive whims of the forty-fourth president.
Friends of the retired general say that he will feel free to speak more openly now. The last several months he has written a number of articles not only confirming his political commitments—his support of the president and the America First agenda—but also defining a spiritual approach to the crisis now roiling the republic.
“To all Americans, what we choose to do in this life should never be stopped by fear,” Flynn wrote after the pardon was issued. “Instead, we need to embrace the uncertainty and accept the risk that comes with sacrifice and then work to overcome the sheer magnitude of life’s challenges, especially during this crucible of our nation’s history. Our very survival as a nation is at stake.”
Flynn’s case underscores the new reality—the institutions that were designed to serve the American people, from the FBI and DOJ to the press and the judiciary, have now been turned against them. It appears that the energy required for the true reckoning and repair of our current state will derive its strength, as Flynn’s statements suggest, not only from political sources but also the moral and religious convictions on which the country was founded.
And so as this chapter closes, a new one begins. This will involve the essential struggle against the increasingly ambitious and comprehensive campaign of desecration that has targeted the human spirit and body, our symbols and history, and all Americans who, like Michael Flynn, prize most life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Lee Smith is the author of the recently published book, “The Permanent Coup: How Enemies Foreign and Domestic Targeted the American President.”