Opinion: The Flynn domino falls

 

(AP)

It’s only December 1, barely 10 months into Donald Trump’s presidency, and already his former campaign manager is under federal indictment. The founder of a pro-Trump SuperPAC is also under federal indictment. A third man, also one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russia during the campaign.

And as of today, Trump’s national security advisor, Mike Flynn, has himself pleaded guilty to a felony charge of lying to FBI investigators about contacts with Russia. The plea is almost certainly the result of a deal cut between Flynn and special counsel Robert Mueller, which means that Flynn has offered Mueller valuable insight into the actions of other figures in the Trump campaign and/or White House.

We don’t know the nature of that insight, but one report from ABC News hints at some of it. In information that seems to have come from the Flynn camp, the retired general has not only admitted to prosecutors that he had been in contact with Russians during the 2016 campaign, but that Trump had ordered him to make those contacts. You know, those contacts that supposedly had never taken place at all? (NOTE: ABC News has since corrected that report, withdrawing its claim that the orders had come during the campaign.)

—–

UPDATE at 12:21: According to documents filed in the case, Flynn had been in close contact with “a senior official of the Presidential Transition Team, who was with other senior members of the Presidential Transition Team” at Mar-a-lago. Those documents state that Flynn conferred with those unnamed “very senior” officials both before and after his conversations with the Russian ambassador, and followed their guidance. 

That pretty much explodes the story that Flynn had been operating on his own and that he was fired for failing to inform Vice President Pence about his actions. After all, Pence was the head of the transition team.

——

So the coils of the anaconda will grow tighter.

In one sense, this isn’t much of a surprise. Anyone who has followed the investigation knows that the hapless Flynn had exposed himself to criminal prosecution on any number of accounts: failing to report payments that he received from Russia; undisclosed paid work for the Turkish government; possible involvement in a planned kidnapping of a Turkish national on U.S. soil, possible money laundering. Most of those potential charges have been wiped away as part of this deal, at least for the time being.

And while there’s a lot that we still don’t know, the guilty plea from Flynn does undercut one of the administration’s top defenses of its interactions with Russia. Until now, it has claimed that Flynn’s secret conversations with the Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration were merely ordinary, perfectly appropriate conversations of the sort that any incoming national-security adviser would have with representatives of other countries.

The problem is, you don’t lie to the FBI about ordinary, perfectly appropriate conversations. You lie to the FBI — putting yourself at risk of a felony — because you think that you have something bigger, more dangerous to hide.

I do wonder how such news is going over in the White House. For the last week to 10 days, Trump has been more antic and irresponsible than is normal for him, which is an astounding thought in its own right. Has that been a nervous reaction to news that someone within his inner circle had turned on him? Will Trump attempt to intervene once again on Flynn’s behalf, as he did when he privately pressured then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the case against him?

Will the president try to issue pardons, or even attempt to remove Mueller from the investigation, as he did with Comey? Will Attorney General Jeff Sessions again feel the presidential wrath?

Such steps would be exceedingly foolish, but then again, these folks haven’t exactly been deft in handling pressure situations. And just as you don’t lie to the FBI unless you have something to hide, you also don’t try to interfere with an ongoing investigation unless you have good cause to fear where it might be headed.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

831 comments
MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

You can also see the debate replayed on video, via an internal link, within the link above.

louisianasue
louisianasue

Thank you Jay .   I always look forward to your column.

JISALIBDBAG
JISALIBDBAG

Opinion: Stop salivating Jay, this isn’t going anywhere. Not illegal for an incoming administration to talk to a Russian Ambasador or any other foreign leader for that matter. Hillary will be in jail before Trump is impeached, so stop sporting wood about this development. And, you remain a giant liberal Dbag.

DonJM
DonJM

@JISALIBDBAG Yes, it is illegal for an incoming administration to undermine the current administration.  We only have one president at the time.

WDE
WDE

@DonJM @JISALIBDBAG how is this undermining if your going to be the one doing the talking from that point on? 

skydog12
skydog12

Who were the best running backs in a college backfield at one time?


I know.

skydog12
skydog12

It`s a tie, they are both from Auburn.


William Andrews and Joe Cribbs.


or


Bo Jackson, Lionel James (Albany, Ga/SC Chargers) Tommie Agee, Brent Fullwood and Tim Jessie.

PW TRashe
PW TRashe

So if we take the House back next year and Trump and Pence resign in disgrace Nancy Pelosi will be President.  Poetic justice at it's very best!

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Visual_Cortex 

That's pretty damn lame. 

I thought it was a brilliant strategy. 

Psychological games are DA BOMB!

DANG! I give Obama a complement and even THAT doesn't play on jay's Main Street.

Granted, it should've worked against Trump, but it didn't.

Go figger!

elgrunir
elgrunir

You keep changing the damn sheetz—I ain’t slept 🛏 yet!

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Flynn indictment refers to multiple high up campaign officials so it's not just Kushner.  Bannon and Kellyanne have some restless nights in their future as well.

elgrunir
elgrunir

Bannon’s travails will bring PAUL IN NH out of the woodwork!

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

I bet they've already had some restless nights together. Look at those faces.

bendedknee
bendedknee

Bet the two Senate clowns from Georgia  are going to give Christmas presents to billionaires and corporations while not funding CHIPS, hospital indigent care subsidies and community health clinics and pulling the legs out from Obamacare.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

I took money from a foreign government once. At the exchange counter in the airport. Great trip.

bendedknee
bendedknee

Where does SNL even begin tomorrow  . They need extra time.

Denise285
Denise285

They can start with Huckabee-Sanders! 😎

Kamchak
Kamchak

This weekend's ShoutyFace dump will be epic derpism.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@Kamchak


When President F---g Moron gets back from a hard day of work at the tanning bed, and turns on Fox, he will be TNT Superfly Guns of Navarone Mushroom Cloud Laying Twittermucker. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Kamchak

ShoutyFace dump 

Only if they put Jay's piece in the low-rent FB page.

I've no idea what makes the AJC choose to do that when they do.

Eustis
Eustis

Our upcoming recession will be greater than the last "Great Recession". Trump always does the greatest things (at least according to him).

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Bet I can make you laugh with 3 words





















President Michelle Obama

elgrunir
elgrunir

Nope.

Been posting the same over the last week.

I’m already on the train 🚂.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Finn-McCool @Eye wonder

It would be fun to elect yet ANOTHER first-term Senator who just happened to be African-American.

And female.

But, let's see a bit more of what she can do on the job. Jury's still out there.

bendedknee
bendedknee

Bet if Tillerson quits , he will head straight over to Mueller's office.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder


Bet I can make you laugh with just two words...















Hillary's emails

Eye wonder
Eye wonder


Bet I can make you laugh with just one word...















benghazi

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

 "Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one of the last holdouts on the GOP bill, announced Friday morning that he would vote for the bill despite concerns that the legislation would add ― as the Joint Committee on Taxation said Thursday ― more than $1 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years."

Well, of course he did.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@Finn-McCool


Fcuk Flake

Fcuk McCain

Fcuk Corker

Fcuk McCaskill


They're a bunch of spineless, soulless, hypocritical, principle-less blowhard prima donnas.