Trump may not need self-pardon if he can silence others with pardons: conservative columnist
Former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn leaves after the delay in his sentencing hearing at US District Court in Washington. (AFP / SAUL LOEB)

Writing in The Atlantic this Wednesday, columnist David Frum says that when it comes to President Donald Trump's recent pardoning of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, one must remember that the crime Flynn is accused of committing was not about lying to protect himself -- he lied to protect Trump.

"Flynn had dubious dealings of his own to cover up, yes," Frum writes. "He had failed to register as an agent of the Turkish government as he should have. But that omission—and Flynn’s lies about it—only became an issue after Flynn was caught lying about the Kislyak conversations. In the end, Flynn was never charged for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act."

According to Frum, Flynn "surely did not know" what specifically he was protecting Trump against with his lies, but he did know that Trump wanted to undo the sanctions President Obama had imposed on Russia. "That mission would be made easier if Russia did not escalate in response to the Obama sanctions."

"Flynn sensed that Trump’s preferred Russia policy was based on motives that everybody around Trump recognized as dangerous, even if they could not quite define where the danger lay," Frum continues. "So when asked by the FBI about the conversation, Flynn acted like a man aware of a terrible secret that must be concealed at all costs."

Frum contends that Trump's other pardons, such as the ones he extended to former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Fox News talking head Dinesh D’Souza, could be followed up with an attempt at self-pardon.

"But if Trump can buy silence with his pardons of others, he might not even need to pardon himself."

Read the full op-ed over at The Atlantic.