Even though disgraced National Security Adviser Mike Flynn has now agreed to fully cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible collusion between President Trump and Russia, the president’s lead attorney, Ty Cobb, tried to downplay the latest development, issuing a statement which read:
“Today, Michael Flynn, a former National Security Adviser at the White House for 25 days during the Trump administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI.
“Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”
But according to Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman, nothing could be further from the truth. In an article he wrote for Bloomberg View, Feldman noted:
“The fact that the lies concern Russia makes it politically harder for Trump to fire Mueller or to pardon Flynn than if the charge had involved Flynn’s other legal woes over his unreported lobbying for Turkey. And because Trump has let it be known that he is considering firing the special counsel, Mueller must do more than simply prosecute if he doesn’t want to be fired. He must shape public perception of his investigation to reduce the probability — by suggesting that his firing would itself be an act of obstruction of justice by the president.”
Feldman also makes specific mention of Flynn’s numerous contacts with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and how that boxes Trump in even further:
“The really interesting issue here is that Flynn bothered to lie at all about these contacts with Kislyak. And the $64,000 question is, why did he lie? One possibility is that Flynn lied because he was trying to hide a longer course of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“The more contacts Mueller can show, the closer he is to a narrative that shows conspiratorial cooperation between Russia and Trump. Flynn’s specific plea makes it harder for Trump to fire Mueller or pardon Flynn. The more Russia information emerges, the more any act of firing or pardon would look like obstruction of justice by the president.”
It’s the classic case of Catch-22: Trump may feel a desperate need to pardon Flynn or fire Mueller, but the minute he does either he likely sets off his own impeachment. Mueller has the president right where he wants him, and the more Trump struggles or lashes out, the deeper he digs the hole he’s in.
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