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Horowitz: Flynn Plea Agreement Spells Trouble for Trump Administration

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


The plea bargain formally agreed to and unveiled this past Friday between Special Counsel Bob Mueller and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn spells big trouble for the Trump Administration. Flynn got off light, pleading guilty to only one count of lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak because he has agreed to be a cooperating witness.

The consensus of legal experts was Mueller would have only made this deal, if he was persuaded that Flynn had substantial and credible incriminating information about more senior level Trump Administration and campaign officials—and given that Flynn served as National Security Advisor-people that are ‘bigger fish’ than he are truly top-level officials.  Reflecting this consensus, Notre Dame Law Professor Jimmy Girule, said, "Flynn would not be permitted to enter a plea bargain unless he had substantial credible evidence of criminal activity involving high-level members of the Trump campaign, including potentially the president himself. “Clearly this is not good news for President Trump.”

The charging documents, as well as follow-up reporting from the New York Times, have already punctured the fiction that Flynn was freelancing in his conversations with Kislak.  It is clear from this newly released information that he was executing an agreed upon strategy when he urged Kislak that Russia temper its reaction to the Obama Administration’s imposition of tough sanctions issued as a response to Russian interference in the 2016 elections. He let the Russian Ambassador know that sanctions relief would soon by on the way—as soon as the Trump Administration took over the reins of the federal government. Senior transition officials were fully apprised by Flynn of these conversations as well as the former National Security Adviser’s additional appeal to Kislak to help kill a UN resolution critical of Israel, an appeal he made at the specific request of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

 This means, of course, that when Vice-President Pence went on television to say that Flynn did not discuss the sanctions issue with Kislak, even though Pence may not have known what he was saying was untrue, other senior members of the Trump Administration certainly did.   Pence told John Dickerson on Face the Nation, “I talked to General Flynn about that conversation and actually was initiated on Christmas Day he had sent a text to the Russian ambassador to express not only Christmas wishes but sympathy for the loss of life in the airplane crash that took place. It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation. They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”  Sean Spicer echoed this patently false cover story.

These revelations alone, while not necessarily pointing to any criminality, further shred the already tattered credibility of the Trump Administration.  Given Flynn’s first-hand knowledge of both campaign and transition interactions with the Russians, this is nearly certainly only the tip of the iceberg.

In a statement timed for release with the unveiling of his plea deal, Michael Flynn said, “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right. My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the special counsel’s office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Whether motivated by genuine conviction and remorse, by self-preservation, or by a combination of the two, Michael Flynn now becomes the Trump Administration's worst nightmare.

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.


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