In what some media outlets are hailing the biggest development so far in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, has agreed today to a plea deal with prosecutors that presents the most direct threat to the president.
On or around January 24, Flynn pleaded guilty to a single count of lying to the FBI about conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last December.
He did not, however, admit to Russian collusion during the 2016 presidential election.
White House lawyer, Ty Cobb, downplays Flynn’s admission:
“Nothing about the guilty plea or the change implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”
Cobb has also begun disassociating the White House with Flynn by referring to Flynn as “a former Obama administration official.”
Except it was Flynn who led the “LOCK HER UP!” chant against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Republican National Convention last summer.
Flynn’s plea will no doubt embolden Robert Mueller’s probe into Trump’s potential Russian ties.
It also touches the Oval Office since Flynn is the first person who served in the administration to admit he broke the law.
As Trump’s national security adviser, Flynn held one of the most powerful positions in Washington.
He is therefore the best suited to answer the two most obvious questions Mueller will ask him:
- Did the Trump campaign deliberately collude with Russia?
- Did Trump obstruct justice in trying to limit or circumvent the FBI’s investigation?
Things started to turn for Flynn last week his when lawyers told Trump’s they could no longer exchange information, indicating Flynn’s willingness to cooperate with the investigation.
On November 27, Flynn’s lawyers met with Mueller’s.
Earlier this year, Flynn offered to testify in exchange for full immunity, but Mueller refused.
Now, though, Mueller has Flynn talking and admitting guilt.
That’s bad news for Trump.
In an interview before Flynn took the plea deal, Asha Rangappa, legal expert at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, said:
“When you flip somebody, you’re using them to go up the chain. This suggests that Mueller’s investigation is going to go into the even-tighter inner circle of the campaign and possibly the administration.”
Brian Ross of ABC reported Friday morning that Flynn is prepared to testify against Trump and admit Trump personally directed Flynn to make contact with Russians.
Asha Rangappa added:
“I think Flynn’s value to Mueller is less on the collusion part and has more to do with obstruction of justice. If Trump had any knowledge of any kind of criminal liability that Flynn may have had — and he was trying to get Comey to drop the investigation — that essentially seals Mueller’s obstruction case.”
For some in Washington, it’s going to be a very memorable holiday season.
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