Michael Flynn, President Trump, FBI discussed on All Things Considered
With us. It's all things considered from NPR news. I'm Mary Louise Kelly in Washington and I'm Elsa Chang in Los Angeles. President Trump has issued a pardon to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and then recanted. This ends a years long saga, which NPR's Ryan Lucas has been long following and he joins us now. Hey, Ryan, either Right. So the president's partner for Flynn just happened this afternoon. What do we know at this point? Well, the president announced this on Twitter as he is want to do. Hey says in the tweet that it is a great honor to announce that he has granted a full pardon. To Flynn. He sends his congratulations to Flint and his family and says, quote. I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving. I will say this pardon is not a surprise. This is something that was widely expected in Flynn's lawyer actually had even acknowledged in court this fall that she had, actually, indeed. Spoken with the president about a possible pardon. Okay, Can you just give us a mini refresher course For a moment? It feels like this Flynn case has been going on and on forever remind us what Flynn was originally prosecuted for. This has been a bit of illegal Soviet. No doubt Flynn Flynn was the only member of the Trump administration actually, who was charged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. He pleaded guilty in 2017 tow line to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador at the time, Sergei Kislyak. Those were conversations that took place during the transition period. So after Trump had been elected, but before he took office, Flynn pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with investigators with investigators and he did so extensively. Right. Okay. So he cooperated with Mueller's team but has now been pardoned. But Ah, federal judge in D. C is still weighing his case. Right? Did I get that right? That's right. This has been a long and when he wrote to get to this point, Flynn was actually in court almost two years ago, now 47 scene but that was abruptly put off to allow Flynn to complete his cooperation. On on a couple of other cases. Ah, few months. After that, Flynn changed. His lawyers dumped his previous legal team brought on a new legal team, and he completely changed his tune. After that, he proclaimed his innocents on said that he was set up by the FBI that he was in trapped. He even went so far as to try to withdraw his guilty plea. Before all of that could play out. Attorney General William Barr moved to drop the department's case against Flynn Bar said that Flynn never should have been prosecuted in the first place. The presiding judge, as you mentioned before, refused to drop this case immediately. He said that he wanted to take a closer look at the department stated reasons for this. Ultimately, as of today, the judge still has not granted that motion to dismiss. He is still weighing what to do. In that case now, naturally, it's a it's a moot point. The president has acted. He's taken political responsibility for this. And Clayton Flynn, of course, now has his pardon in hand, right? Well, overall, How would you say this case has been handled by the Department of Justice? This has been a difficult case for the Justice Department. It has been caught up from the beginning. Essentially in in bitter political battle that we've seen take place in Washington. Flynn, the president and his allies portray Flynn here as a victim of the Justice Department of the FBI of what the president would call a witch hunt a hoax. Meanwhile, the attorney general's decision, which was highly unusual to intervene in this case, and to try to drop it after Flynn had pleaded guilty caused an uproar in critics said This looks a lot like a political favor to a friend of the president. Well, this is of course, the first part in that we have seen from President Trump's since the election. Should we be anticipating many more? This is the first of what we expect to be a number of pardons. Yes, there are a number of people who the president is friends with who could expect to pardon some top names were looking at former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. The president's former political adviser, Steve Bannon, who is facing federal charges in New York. There is also of course, the possibility that the president could pardon his family preemptively and the possibility for the president to try to pardon himself before he leaves office. That is NPR. Justice correspondent Ryan Lucas. Thank you, Ryan. Thank you. Encourage or require. That is a dilemma Many employers are facing as a covert 19 vaccine comes closer to reality. Ah, quarter million people in the U. S have died from Cove it once there's a shot can that can prevent illness Should it be mandatory in the workplace? NPR's Andrea Hsu has more Only a couple of months into the pandemic. Holly Smith had made up her mind. Her restaurant Cafe Juanita in Kirkland. Washington, would not reopen the diners until there was a covert 19 vaccine. She's already told her staff you are going to get vaccinated. Some of my young millennials are like, so I'm taking this is a directive like as a mandate. Is that how you mean it? And it's that's a scary thing. You know, like Yeah. Yes, yes, Smith had 28 employees before the pandemic. She's had to lay off all but five. Her fine dining spot has become a take out on Lee business. Even with a much smaller staff, Smith is serious about safety. She requires her workers to get tested. If they go on vacation with people outside their bubble, or if they're showing any sign of illness, I believe in civil liberties and all those different things. But you know, we have people who live with their parents. We have people who lived with her husband, who has died. It is the staff have to be healthy and safe before you could move forward, she says. You know, for vaccinated. I think I can move out in the world and be responsible for these 28 or 30 people. Plus all the people coming in Now, if you're wondering, Can she actually do this? Can she require her workers to get vaccinated? The answer appears to be yes. But her workers also have the right to request exemptions. Under federal law. Someone could say I have a medical or religious reason I can't be vaccinated and companies must try to provide accommodations. It's incredibly hard to manage a mandate. Johnnie Taylor Jr is president of the Society for Human Resource Management. He says Each requests must be evaluated on its own merits. Now imagine if there were hundreds of them. A recent poll found four in 10. Americans don't want the vaccine, though that polling was done before anyone knew how well the vaccines would work. So this is a true headache for HR professionals. That's why you're likely to see many companies strongly encourage the vaccine, but stopped short of mandating it. Take, for example, the pork producers Smithfield, the company told NPR. They're not anticipating a firm mandate, but they want to offer the vaccine on site. Even with all the headaches, Taylor things many employers will go for the mandate. After all, they have an obligation to get rid of any known hazards in the workplace like Covad. It's real and it's devastating. So I think the dynamic changes. Employers are actually going to position this as I need to do this full stop. Now. There are some workplaces that already mandate the flu vaccine, most commonly hospitals. Dr. James McDevitt is dean of clinical affairs at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He says the annual flu shot is required for some 14,000 people, doctors, nurses, med students, even the clerks. They're sitting in a computer that don't see live patients. It's the right thing to do for society, he says. If you claim an exemption, you have to wear a mask. Now with the covert vaccine. Baylor is not going to make it mandatory until they can actually get enough supply to cover everyone and until it's been deemed safe, not just by the FDA, McDivitt says, but by his own colleagues. Johnny Taylor Jr says. Whatever companies decide there are likely to be challenges. And so Congress and state legislators are going to have to think about how to offer some protection on both sides. Legal protection for companies that mandate the vaccine in case someone has a bad reaction. Even though you will have to sign a waiver before you get the shot. They've also gotta protect the employers who decide not to make it. Mandate and then who are sued by employees who contracted Taylor has been meeting with federal employment officials telling them employers want to do the right thing, but they're in a tough spot, and they're going to need help getting through this. Andrea Hsu NPR news In a surprise announcement today, the Trump Administration has denied a permit for the Pebble Mine in Alaska. The proposed open pit gold mine would have been one of the largest in North America..