WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump left potential pardons for those snared in Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe on the table, expressing sympathy Wednesday night for those “incredibly hurt by this whole scam.”
“I don’t want to talk about pardons now, but I can say it’s so sad on so many levels,” Trump said during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
Trump specifically cited retired Gen. Michael Flynn, who served on his campaign and briefly within the White House as national security adviser.
“He was a man who had an incredible record in the military and you saw what happened to him,” Trump said.
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI over conversations he had with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the lead-up to the inauguration.
After cooperating with investigators, Flynn’s sentencing has been delayed.
A total of 34 individuals were indicted throughout the course of Mueller’s investigation, including former campaign staffers Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone and George Papadopoulos.
Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser who served a 12-day prison sentence for lying to the FBI, told Reuters on Thursday that his attorneys have applied for a pardon.
Trump has remained non-committal on potential pardons.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters last month that the president is still weighing his options about a possible pardon for Manafort.
“He’ll make a decision when he is ready,” Sanders said.
According to a summary of Mueller’s report that Barr provided to Congress on Sunday, Mueller’s team found no evidence of conspiracy between anybody on the Trump campaign and Russia.
The special counsel did not make a determination on whether the president obstructed justice, leaving that decision to the Justice Department.
Barr told lawmakers that after consulting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, there was not enough evidence to open proceedings.
Democrats have called on the Justice Department to release the report in its entirety, an action that Trump has previously endorsed, but is ultimately up to Barr.
In the wake of Barr’s summary, Trump and others within his orbit have taken a victory lap, taking numerous swipes at the media and lawmakers who had expected the report would yield evidence of wrongdoing.