Of course Donald Trump, who has repeatedly abused his boundless clemency power to reward friends and political allies and protect himself, pardoned Michael Flynn, his national security adviser who pleaded guilty in two separate court admissions to making false statements to the FBI. Expect enough dirty dealings on Trump's way out to make the Marc Rich affair look as clean as a newly disinfected city subway car.
But remember what Flynn did: During the presidential transition period, he had conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States, discussing the relaxation of U.S. sanctions that had been imposed as punishment for election interference. Then, he lied to federal investigators about those contacts.
Lying to the feds is a crime because if one can do it with impunity, there's ultimately no way for investigators to get the truth. And if there's no way for them to get the truth, there's no way for them to enforce the law.
When Bill Barr's Justice Department abandoned its case against Flynn under presidential pressure, so profoundly did it stink that federal Judge Emmett Sullivan ordered an independent review of the case. A judge's role, he rightly stated, "is not intended to serve merely as a rubber stamp," as he raised an alarm about the credibility of the DOJ's filings, one of which the government admitted it had "inadvertently" altered.
Sullivan cannot undo a presidential pardon, but he need not lay down in the face of Trump's attempt to make the whole Flynn affair disappear. He can and must continue to apply strict scrutiny to what may well have been a dirty deal.
Tuesday, Trump pardoned an innocent turkey. Wednesday, he tried to wipe away the crimes of a flunky who twice pled guilty, crowing that he'd be able to enjoy his Thanksgiving.
This isn't mercy, or justice. It's plain old corruption.(c)2020 New York Daily News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC