US President Donald Trump has reportedly asserted that he would consider hiring back his fired former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a key controversial figure in the probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
"I would certainly consider it, yeah. I think he's a fine man," Trump told reporters as quoted in a Reuters report on Friday, without elaborating on what role in his administration he might offer to Flynn.
Trump further accused what he described as “dirty, filthy cops at the top of the FBI” for “destroying” the retired Army general, who was a particularly hawkish member of his top national security team in the early months of the administration.
“He’s in the process of being exonerated if you looked at those notes from yesterday. That was total exoneration,” Trump claimed. “These were dirty, filthy cops at the top of the FBI, and you know the names better than I do. And they were dishonest people.”
Moreover, the US president lobbed further accusations of treason in a Saturday tweet against former FBI officials that helped prosecute Flynn in the alleged Russia interference investigation in the early days of his administration.
“The Russia Hoax is the biggest political scandal in American history. Treason!!!” Trump wrote in the Twitter post as part of a string of retweets focused on the Flynn issue.
Trump's statements -- the latest in a string of comments about Flynn -- go beyond prior suggestions by the US president that the retired general could be in line for a presidential pardon, further hinting that more revelations in the case may be forthcoming.
Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements in a charge brought by then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He is now insisting he did not lie and wants to back out of the plea.
Meanwhile, internal FBI documents turned over by the Justice Department on Wednesday showed FBI officials debated whether and when to warn Flynn that he could face criminal charges as they prepared for a January 2017 interview with him in the Russia probe.
Flynn left his White House position after just 24 days in office when he was found to have misled Vice President Mike Pence about his discussions with Russia's then-ambassador to the US, States Sergei Kislyak. Trump announced in 2017 that he fired Flynn because he had lied to Pence and the FBI.
Pence, however, stated during a trip to Indiana on Thursday that Flynn's actions may have been unintentional.
"I'm deeply troubled by the revelations of what appeared to have been investigative abuse by officials in the Justice Department. And we're going to continue to look into that very carefully," Pence added.
"My respect for General Flynn personally for his service to the country is undiminished. And I am inclined more than ever to believe that what he communicated to me back during the transition leading to our inauguration, that was unintentional and not - and that he was not attempting to misrepresent facts," he further proclaimed.