U.S. President Donald Trump signaled that he had not decided whether or not to pardon former White House National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn, who is currently cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller as part of a plea deal for perjury. Trump also blasted the FBI and the federal investigation into his administration.
On Dec. 15, Trump was asked during a press conference on the White House South Lawn if he was considering a pardon for Flynn.
"I don't want to talk about pardons with Michael Flynn yet," Trump responded, according to CNN. "We'll see what happens, let's see."
The president added, "I can say this, when you look at what's going on with the FBI and the Justice Department, people are very, very angry."
Later that day, White House special counsel Ty Cobb issued a statement to clarify Trump's intentions.
"There is no consideration being given to pardoning Michael Flynn at the White House," Cobb said.
On Dec. 1, Flynn pleaded guilty for giving false statements to the FBI about his communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during Trump's presidential transition in December 2016.
"My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel's Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country," Flynn said, according to NPR. "I accept full responsibility for my actions."
Mueller is probing whether Trump campaign associates colluded with the Russian government's influence campaign during the 2016 election and if Trump obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey, who alleged that the president suggested he drop an investigation into Flynn.
Trump has been vocally critical of the FBI and the Mueller probe, asserting that both are biased against his administration. After Mueller fired a member of his investigative team, FBI agent Peter Strzok, for previously sending messages that were critical of Trump, the president took to Twitter to blast the agency's credibility, Time reports.
"After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters -- worst in History!" Trump tweeted out on Dec. 3. "But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness."
On Dec. 7, FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was appointed by Trump, defended his agency against the president during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
"There is no shortage of opinions out there but what I can tell you is the FBI that I see is tens of thousands of agents and analysts and staff working their tails off keeping Americans safe," Wray said, according to CBS News.
On Dec. 12, the Department of Justice released a series of texts that Strzok had sent to another FBI agent. The texts indicated that the two agents held negative opinions of Trump, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Attorney General Eric Holder of the Obama administration. The texts also signaled that they had hoped former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 election, Politico reports.
On Dec. 13, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein faced questions from the House Judiciary Committee, with some GOP lawmakers calling for the Mueller probe to be shut down.
"The special counsel's investigation is not a witch hunt," Rosenstein told the panel, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Rosenstein added that he had full confidence in Mueller, concluding: "If there was good cause, I would act."