House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Dennis Heck (D-WA) on Friday warned Donald Trump against considering a pardon for his onetime national security adviser Michael Flynn, telling CNN’s Kate Bolduan that doing so “will be the beginning of the unraveling of his presidency.”
Trump kept the door opened for pardoning Flynn, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to the FBI about the nature of his conversations with the Russian ambassador. “I don't want to talk about pardons with Mike Flynn yet,” Trump told reporters when asked if he’s considered exonerating he longtime political ally.
“If President Trump pardons Mike Flynn or any of the other people involved in this, I confidently predict it will be the beginning of the unraveling of his presidency,” Heck said, comparing such a move with Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre.”
Heck also pointed out that special counsel Robert Mueller included a binding agreement in his plea deal with Flynn requiring the retired general to comply with state and local authorities.
“The president can pardon these people for violations of federal crimes, but cannot pardon them for violations of state crimes," Heck explained.
“So, if he thinks he's going to give them a ‘get out of jail free’ card, he's flat wrong,” he added. “Once again, this president—who seems frankly, on so many occasions not to embrace the basic and fundamental American precept of the rule of law—he just doesn't get it.”
Heck also criticized he Republican counterparts in the House Intelligence Committee, arguing they’re “trying to get to the end of the investigation at a rate or at a velocity which is completely out of sync with what is necessary to do this job.”