Apr 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pence says he's "more inclined to believe" Flynn unintentionally lied

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence told reporters Thursday that following the release of new FBI documents, he is "more inclined to believe" that former national security adviser Michael Flynn unintentionally lied to him in 2017 about the nature of his conversation with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Why it matters: Flynn was forced to resign for misleading Pence and later pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to FBI agents about speaking to Kislyak about Russian sanctions, which the Obama administration had imposed for election interference.

The big picture: Flynn is now seeking to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming that prosecutors acted in "bad faith" and sought to entrap him.

  • As part of that process, prosecutors have turned over documents from the FBI, including a new batch on Wednesday that show officials discussing whether their "goal" was "to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired."
  • President Trump has said he "strongly considering" a full pardon for Flynn, and spent much of Wednesday night and Thursday morning raging on Twitter about the treatment that Flynn has received.
  • On Thursday, Trump said that he would consider bringing Flynn back into the administration, claiming his former national security adviser is "essentially exonerated."

What they're saying: Pence told reporters that he will leave the decision on whether to pardon Flynn up to the president.

“I think Gen. Michael Flynn is a patriotic American who served with great distinction in the armed forces. ... I’m deeply troubled by the revelations of what appears to have been investigative abuse by officials in the Justice Department and we are going to continue to look into that very carefully.”"

Flashback: In December 2017, Pence told CBS News, "What I can tell you is that I knew that [Flynn] lied to me. And I know the president made the right decision with regard to him."

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The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

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Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.