Vice President Mike Pence said he would welcome the return of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to President Trump’s administration after the Justice Department last week dropped criminal charges against the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
“I think Gen. Michael Flynn is an American patriot,” Pence said during an interview with Axios on HBO in Iowa on Friday. “He served his country with great distinction in uniform, and now I believe the decision the Justice Department lays bare what was clearly prosecutorial abuse. And for my part, I’d be happy to see Michael Flynn again.”
Flynn pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017, to one count of lying during a Jan. 24, 2017, interview with the FBI about his interactions with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump took office, which the Department of Justice (DOJ) has since said “seems to have been undertaken only to elicit those very false statements and thereby criminalize Mr. Flynn.”
Flynn’s plea formed part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The DOJ on May 7 dropped its case against Flynn and condemned the FBI’s work after the former national security adviser to President Trump, who in recent months moved to withdraw his plea of guilt, said that his former lawyers misled him on their conflict of interest and the FBI withheld a number of documents.
“The government has concluded that the interview of Mr. Flynn was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn—a no longer justifiably predicated investigation that the FBI had, in the Bureau’s own words, prepared to close because it had yielded an ‘absence of any derogatory information,’” said Timothy Shea, interim U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, in his May 6 motion to dismiss.
Pence’s comments come after President Trump last month said he would “certainly consider” rehiring Flynn, adding that he expected him to be “fully exonerated” and to be “capable of coming back,” but did not state in what capacity.
“I think he’s a fine man. I think it’s terrible what [the FBI] did to him. I would certainly consider it…They did everything possible to destroy him but he’s still breathing very strongly,” he told reporters during a White house press briefing on April 30.
On Sunday, Trump praised the Justice Department’s decision to drop the criminal case against Flynn, calling his former national security adviser an “innocent man” and a “warrior.”
“He was an innocent man,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon. “He is a great gentleman. He was targeted by the Obama administration and he was targeted in order to try and take down a president, and what they’ve done is a disgrace, and I hope a big price is going to be paid.”
Pence’s interview on Axios on HBO airs in full on Monday night.