During the presidential campaign, President Donald Trump had a seemingly different view on the implications of requesting immunity in a criminal investigation.
Trump tweeted on Friday morning that Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser who is being investigated by Congress and the FBI over his communications with Russia, should ask for immunity to protect himself from “a witch hunt.”
But back in September, when reports surfaced that Hillary Clinton aides were granted immunity in an FBI investigation into Clinton’s private email server, Trump said at a campaign rally that such a request for immunity amounted to an admission of criminal guilt.
“Her aides took the Fifth Amendment and her ringleaders were given immunity,” Trump told the crowd, which booed in response. “And if you’re not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for, right?”
“The reason they get immunity is because they did something wrong,” Trump added. “If they didn’t do anything wrong, they don’t think in terms of immunity.”
In October, Trump also tweeted: “ATTN: @HillaryClinton – Why did five of your staffers need FBI IMMUNITY?!”
Around the same time, Jason Miller, then Trump’s communications adviser, argued that reports that Clinton aides ”were granted immunity from prosecution in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal shows this was without a doubt a criminal scheme.”
Like Trump, Flynn also made comments last year that have raised eyebrows given his reported request for immunity from prosecution.
“When you are given immunity, that means you have probably committed a crime,” Flynn said during an interview with MSNBC commentator Chuck Todd.
A request for immunity from prosecution does not amount to an admission of guilt. A person granted immunity may still be criminally prosecuted for crimes revealed in the testimony as long as the activity is confirmed with independent evidence.
Flynn resigned in February after less than a month as national security adviser, following reports that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other US officials about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn was allegedly involved in discussions about the possible lifting of Russian sanctions.
So far, his request for immunity has gotten no takers. The Senate Intelligence Community reportedly rejected the request, NBC News reported Friday.
Mark Abadi and Peter Jacobs contributed to this report.
Trump today: “Mike Flynn should ask for immunity…”
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