Rambam writes that we have free will. He writes: “Humans are given free will. If a person wants to take the good path and be righteous, he is free to do so; and if he desires to take the evil one and be wicked, he can do so ... The Creator doesn’t preordain man to be good or evil” (Mishneh Torah, Teshuvah 5:1–23).
There are the rare wicked people whose punishment includes the very fact that their "heart is hardened" and it's more difficult for them to repent (see Rambam, Laws of Teshuvah 6:3). So the verse may be referring to such people. This is possibly implied by Rashi ad loc, who says
וגם רשע. עשה להניחו ליום רעה, וכל זה לקילוסו:
Also the wicked - he ...
While the Pharaoh that was punished was not the same one who initiated the policy, he did continue it. So once the Rambam proves that the original policy was done with free will, it is understood that the second Pharaoh also acted of his own free will.
The Rambam is addressing two different questions (1) A general question. If the Torah said a group will do bad like it says the Egyptians will by enslaving the Jews how can it be is said of them that they had free will? (2) A more specific question. How can you say Pharaoh had free will when the Torah explicitly says Hashem will harden his heart?
He is ...
Here is a paragraph from a longer discussion in the introduction to the לבוש מרדרכי:
(My own translation)
שו"ת לבוש מרדכי הקדמה ותוכן העניינים
The question is asked: since prior to The Sin Man had no evil inclination or independent will, how did he end up defying God's will and eating from the tree of knowledge, unless there was some logical error ...
See Medrash Rabbah here
"אם בחקותי תלכו" הה"ד (תהלים קיט, נט): "חשבתי דרכי ואשיבה רגלי אל
עדתיך" אמר דוד רבש"ע בכל יום ויום הייתי מחשב ואומר למקום פלוני ולבית
דירה פלונית אני הולך והיו רגלי מביאות ...
Rav Hutner explains that the first 2 middos of the 13 attributes of mercy are Hashem Hashem, because we have 2 havayos (creations/becomings). The initial creation of the sinner is terminated when he sins, when he does repentance, he is created anew by the second Shem havayah.
Only by being created anew, is the sinner able to start a new life that is not ...