December 9, 2020

The pardons begin with Flynn

By haziqbinarif

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday afternoon that he had “granted a Full Pardon” to former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Michael T. Flynn wearing a suit and tie: WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18: Former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse following a sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court December 18, 2018 in Washington, DC.

© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 18: Former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse following a sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court December 18, 2018 in Washington, DC.

“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!” Trump tweeted.


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Flynn pleaded guilty — twice — to lying to the FBI about his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the Trump presidential transition, which surfaced as part of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

His tenure at the White House lasted only a few weeks before he resigned over his Russian contacts. He was still awaiting sentencing when the pardon came down.

Flynn is benefiting from Trump’s consistent pardon record of favoring personal connections, showmanship and an aversion to going through official government channels.

The unusual pipeline has worked for people like former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza and financier Michael Milken.

The President has been insisting for weeks that he didn’t lose the election. He did so again Wednesday. But as CNN’s Kaitlan Collins noted: The Flynn pardon is another sign that he realizes, but won’t admit, he’s on his way out the door.

Expect more pardons soon. There have been discussions about pardoning multiple people in the President’s orbit, sources told CNN.

Reminder: This could all end with Trump pardoning himself. The President has been asking aides since 2017 whether he can self-pardon, former aides previously told CNN.

One former White House official said Trump asked about self-pardons as well as pardons for his family. The President even asked if he could issue pardons preemptively for things people could be charged with in the future, the former official said.

Transition snapshot

Georgia’s Republican secretary of state hits Trump. Brad Raffensperger maintained in a new op-ed for USA Today that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state’s election and lambasted the President for attacking him.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s lead keeps growing. He’s the first presidential candidate to win more than 80 million votes, with his record-breaking number of popular votes still likely to increase in the coming days as ballots continue to be counted across the nation.

Keep this list handy throughout the transition. CNN’s Kate Sullivan, Janie Boschma and Heather Fulbright have a helpful tally of whom the President-elect has tapped so far.

But don’t expect Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders to join it. Biden told NBC News that “there’s nothing really off the table,” but stressed the value of keeping people “of consequence” in the House or Senate.

Some Trump outcasts could land top jobs. Biden’s early picks for top positions are giving hope to career professionals throughout government — and maybe also to some who left in scorn.

Looking ahead to a different kind of inauguration. With Covid still surging, the pomp and circumstance will be noticeably different this time around, according to interviews with multiple aides and administration officials, from the White House to Capitol Hill to the DC mayor’s office.

The future of the traditional luncheon in Statuary Hall is up in the air, and it’s unlikely that a choir behind the new president will be feasible.

An unrelenting fall surge

It feels like each day in the last few weeks has brought a disturbing new milestone in the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest? More than 2,100 Covid-19 deaths were reported in the US on Tuesday. That makes it the highest one-day coronavirus death toll the country has reported since early May.

The reality is this year’s Thanksgiving is just not a very happy one. With Covid transmission so high, you could pass it to a loved one. Or they could give it to you.

That’s why the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US surgeon general and scores of other health experts have urged Americans to not travel for the holiday.

But millions are still packing into airports and boarding planes, all but assuring the US will see an explosion of Covid-19 infections in the weeks following Thanksgiving. (Side note: Some of those travelers are college students heading home for the rest of the year, part of a strategy many institutions adopted in the summer to avert a post-Thanksgiving spike.)

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a former White House medical team adviser, told CNN the holiday could be “potentially the mother of all superspreader events.”

If you are gathering Thursday, Erin Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has a new op-ed for CNN with some of the best practices to help minimize your Covid risk.

  • Maximize outdoor air: If the weather behaves, keep the meal outdoors. This is not likely realistic in many parts of the country, but windows and doors can be kept open as wide as the weather allows if you are inside. The goal is to not rebreathe someone else’s air.
  • Keep the meal short! This will also be one meal where if the kids ask if they can eat in the playroom, the answer should be yes.
  • Don’t share: Don’t share serving food, glassware or cutlery. These surfaces go directly in your mouth and make it really easy for the virus to find a new home.
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