President Trump said Thursday he would "certainly consider" bringing former national security adviser Michael Flynn back into his administration. Flynn was fired after only days on the job in 2017 for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with the Russian envoy to the U.S. ahead of Mr. Trump's inauguration.
"Well, I think he's a fine man. I think it's terrible what they did to him. It's something that nobody's asked me but you're asking me for the first time. I would certainly consider it," the president said, asked by a reporter in the East Room if he would allow Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, to return to the White House.
The presidentfor his former national security adviser, but he thinks it may not be necessary.
"It looks to me like Michael Flynn would be exonerated," he said, adding, "I don't know that anybody would have to use that power."
In an Oval Office meeting with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy earlier in the day, the president praised Flynn profusely and claimed
"When I looked at what they did to him, they tormented him. Dirty cops. Tormented General Flynn. General Flynn is a fine man, 35 years or so in the military. You don't get to be where he is by being bad, that I can tell you," the president told reporters.
Also on Thursday, during a trip to Indiana, Pence said he's now inclined to believe that convicted former national security adviser unintentionally misled him when he told the vice president he had not discussed Russian sanctions. In January 2017, Pence toldthat he had spoken to Flynn, who told him he and the Russian envoy "did not discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia." He stated, "What I can confirm having spoken to [Flynn] about it is those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions."
Now, Pence says he's "deeply troubled by the revelations of what appear to have been investigative abuse by officials in the Justice Department. And we're gonna continue to look into that very carefully."
"I'm inclined more than ever to believe that he what he communicated to me back during the transition leading to our inauguration was unintentional and that he was not attempting to misrepresent facts," Pence said. "The investigative, prosecutorial abuse that now is coming to light, people need to be held to account."
The vice president did not say, and was not asked, whether he thought Flynn had also lied to the FBI.
The vice president made the comments during a tour of a General Motors facility in Indiana. During this visit, Pence donned a mask, after he was criticized forand violating Mayo Clinic policy during a visit there earlier this week. Pence had said he is tested regularly for the virus and last tested negative. Second lady Karen Pence claimed on Fox News Thursday morning that the vice president, who leads the Coronavirus Task Force, was unaware of the mask requirement, even though reporters covering the vice president that day said the vice president's office had informed them that they needed to wear masks in accordance with Mayo Clinic policy.
The GM facility that Pence visited in Kokomo had been closed because of the coronavirus, but in mid-April, it was reopened so that it could manufacture ventilators. Other Midwest auto manufacturing facilities are still trying to figure out when to resume production. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had planned to reopen its Kokomo facility next week, but the company announced it was now reevaluating that date because of "updated state stay-in-place orders," according to local media reports.
As is the case across the country, the coronavirus crisis has hit Indiana hard. Since mid-March, Indiana has seen over 550,000 initial unemployment claims, representing about 17% of its workforce. Earlier this year, CBSN Originals went to Kokomo to examine the financial hardships facing restaurant workers.