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Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty To Lying To The F.B.I.

Donald Trump Michael Flynn

Former Lt. General Michael Flynn, who was one of President Trump’s closest advisers during the 2016 Presidential campaign and served as Trump’s National Security Adviser for less than a month, has pled guilty to a charge of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in what appears to be a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller:

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations with the Russian ambassador last December during the presidential transition, bringing the special counsel’s investigation into the president’s inner circle.

The plea by Mr. Flynn, who appeared in federal court in Washington, is the latest indication that Mr. Flynn was cooperating with the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian interference in the 2016 election. His plea agreement suggests that Mr. Flynn provided information to prosecutors, which may help advance the inquiry.

The development came at a particularly sensitive moment for the White House, just as Mr. Trump and Republican congressional leaders are toiling to hold together a tenuous coalition to push through a large tax cut plan. It marked an unwelcome headline at a time when the president’s team is hoping to focus public attention on what they argue is an impressive list of accomplishments in his first year.

The White House had no immediate response on Friday to requests for comment on Mr. Flynn’s plea.

Mr. Flynn’s lawyers recently told the president’s legal team that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation as they had been — a sign that Mr. Flynn had decided to cooperate with the prosecution. The investigation has dogged Mr. Trump’s first year in office.

Mr. Flynn is the fourth Trump associate to be charged. He was accused of making false statements to F.B.I. agents about two discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak. Lying to the F.B.I. carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

More from The Washington Post, which notes that this is an ominous sign for the White House:

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, marking another milestone in the wide-ranging probe of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Flynn’s admission to the charge Friday in federal district court in D.C. is an ominous sign for the White House, as court documents indicate Flynn is cooperating in the ongoing probe of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election. The plea relates to false statements Flynn made to the FBI on January 24 — four days after President Trump was inaugurated — about his conversations with Kislyak during the transition.

Flynn admitted making false statements to the FBI about asking the ambassador in late December to ”refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed on Russia that same day.” Flynn also told authorities he did not recall the ambassador “subsequently telling him that Russia has chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of his request,” according to a court filing. That would suggest there was a second, previously unknown contact between Flynn and Kislyak.

Separately, authorities say Flynn lied about asking the ambassador to delay a vote on United Nations Security Council resolutions.

lynn is the highest-profile Trump ally — and the first aide who worked in the White House — to face charges in Mueller’s investigation. Trump developed a close rapport with Flynn on the campaign trail, where the general delivered fiery denunciations of Hillary Clinton, including leading a ”lock her up” chant at the Republican National Convention, and he gave Trump much-needed national security credentials. Flynn, however, had a mixed reputation among other Trump aides, who thought he gave the president questionable information and questioned some of his business dealings.

(…)

Flynn’s negotiations to cooperate with Mueller’s team began early last month, according to two people briefed on the discussions. Days after former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was indicted, Mueller’s investigators warned Flynn’s lawyers they planned to indict Flynn and also could charge his son, according to the two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations. Flynn’s lawyers, Kelner and Stephen Anthony, provided a proffer of what information Flynn could provide and then Flynn met with Mueller’s team.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, White House lawyer John Dowd contacted Flynn’s team in a sporadic “check-in” call he made to other defense counsel in the Russia probe every few weeks, people familiar with the matter said. Kelner told Dowd on the call that he could no longer communicate with the White House lawyers. That signaled Flynn had begun to cooperate or was already actively seeking to cooperate with the special counsel’s office because his lawyers have a duty to shut off communications with other defense teams in either case.

As part of Flynn’s negotiations, his son, Michael G. Flynn, is not expected to be charged, according to a person with knowledge of the talks.

This news doesn’t come entirely as a surprise, of course. It’s long been known that Flynn was the focus of at least part of Mueller’s investigation due to factors that are completely separate from the Russia investigation itself. Long before he started working for Trump on the campaign and at the White House, Flynn had spent a good part of his post-military career working as a lobbyist and part of that work included lobbying on behalf of foreign governments and foreign business interests, including in nations such as Russia and Turkey. Under Federal law, people who lobby for foreign governments are required to disclose such arrangements on specific legal documents, and Flynn also would have been required to disclose such lobbying on any relevant security clearance application for a position in the Trump Administration. As was the case with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Flynn failed to report much of his foreign lobbying as required by law and did not do so until his failure to do so came to light. Flynn’s son, Michael T. Flynn Jr, was also involved in many of these foreign lobbying jobs and similarly failed to properly disclose them These are serious transgressions that could expose Flynn and his son to substantial criminal liability. The fact that they are not being charged with anything in regard to these failings is a strong indication that Flynn has been given a very generous deal in exchange for his cooperation.

In addition to his failure to disclose his foreign lobbying, and more pertinent to today’s developments is the fact that Flynn lied to campaign officials and to Vice-President Pence regarding his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the United States. This led to his departure as National Security Adviser only two weeks into the Administration. It was shortly after this, course, that President Trump asked F.B.I. Director James Comey if he could end the investigation of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and later when he fired Comey abruptly just days after he had testified about the investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign before a Senate committee. As we know now, Trump later openly admitted that he took that later action specifically because of the Russia investigation. We now know that Flynn also lied regarding his meetings with Russian Ambassador Kislyak to agents of the F.B.I. and these lies occurred on January 24, 2017, just four days after President Trump’s Inauguration at a time when Flynn was already serving as head of the National Security Council inside the White House. This is the closest that Mueller’s investigation has gotten to the President himself and it suggests quite strongly that there’s much more to come.

Finally, of course, we learned last week that Flynn’s legal team had ended an information sharing agreement with President Trump’s legal team. As I noted at the time, this was a strong indication that Flynn had either reached a plea agreement with Mueller and his prosecutors or that they were seeking or negotiating the terms of such a deal. The fact that we’re seeing a plea deal this close in time to that revelation would indicate that the deal had likely already been reached by the time the cooperation agreement was ended. Prior to that time, though, Flynn and his lawyers would have gained access to information that Trump’s team had as well as some idea of their legal strategy. While much of that information would remain protected by the attorney-client privilege and could not be disclosed, there are other things that could have been learned through that agreement that Mueller would find to be of value.

All of this leaves open the question of what Flynn has to offer to Mueller. At the most, all we know at the moment is that Flynn confirmed in a statement released by his lawyers after this morning’s hearing that the plea was being entered into in connection with an agreement with Mueller and his office that Flynn would cooperate with the investigation. The nature of that cooperation and what Flynn has to offer are unclear, however, there is a strong reason to believe that it’s significant. Given everything that Flynn could have been charged with (i.e., the stuff regarding his foreign lobbying) the fact that he’s pleading guilty to this one charge indicates that Flynn is being treated very well. In that regard, Flynn and his lawyers likely would have been required to give a proffer (a preview of what Flynn can testify to) to prosecutors. If they didn’t give something good, the deal wouldn’t be this generous. This suggests Mueller either thinks or know that Flynn has significant information with relevant to the investigation, including information that could implicate others involved in the Trump campaign who are close to the President. Who those people are and what Flynn knows is something only time will tell. However, it is significant that the Mueller team revealed that Flynn was in contact with top members of the Trump transition team regarding his conversations with the Russian Ambassador while they were occurring and that Flynn was operating under instructions from a senior transition official regarding his contact with the Ambassador. This suggests he was in contact with people very close to the President-Elect, if not the President-Elect himself. Where that takes us from here is something only time will tell.

Update: ABC News is reporting the Flynn is prepared to testify that it was then President-Elect Trump who ordered him to contact the Russians:

NBC News meanwhile is saying that Kushner gabe the orde:

In reality, both could be correct since at the time an order from Kushner was seen as equivalent to an order from Trump himself.

Here’s a copy of the Criminal Information filed against Flynn in advance of today’s hearing:

United States v. Michael T. Flynn by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

And here’s the Statement of Offense:

United States v. Michael T. Flynn Statement of ffense by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

Amd here’s the Plea Agreement

Michael T. Flynn Plea Agreement by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. dmichael says:

    Note that this is filed as an “information” and not an indictment. It doesn’t deal with any of the other, and potentially more serious criminal charges that might have been brought against Flynn. It also appears that Flynn’s son is no longer a target of the Mueller team. Therefore, this appears to be an extremely generous deal for Flynn and strongly suggests that the Trump criminal family will be next.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  2. James Pearce says:

    “When they found Mike Flynn in the meat truck, he was frozen so stiff it took them three days to thaw him out for the autopsy.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Flynn’s problem is that he’s been caught conspiring to commit a kidnapping. Presumably his son has a piece of that as well, and the problem for General ‘Lock her up!’ is that kidnapping is a state offense as well as federal. Trump can’t pardon Flynn or Son on the plot to kidnap Gülen, and that could be years in Attica.

    This sweet a deal signals unmistakably that Flynn has something real damn serious on someone more important. I make the total number of ‘more important’ people four: Jared, Ivanka, Pence and Trump.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  4. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    Not Flynn. Manafort. That’s the guy who should be real careful who he opens the door to. The Russian mob/FSB is brazen enough to kill Manafort, and with good reason: he’s eyeballs deep in money-laundering and I suspect he owes a whole bunch of money to bad, bad men.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  5. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    As others pointed out on the other thread; Brian Ross of ABC is reporting that Flynn is prepared to testify that Candidate Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians.

    This is going to get huge. That walking Comb-Over must be getting ready to explode.
    Will Trump try to pardon him? Will Trump finally try to fire Mueller, now?

    What a great day for Donnie….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Weather report advises: be prepared for rage Tweeting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  7. CSK says:

    Apparently Flynn has agreed to testify about Trump family members as well as Trump.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. gVOR08 says:

    In addition to his failure to disclose his foreign lobbying, and more pertinent to today’s developments is the fact that Flynn lied to campaign officials and to Vice-President Pence regarding his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the United States.

    That’s their story and they’re sticking to it. So far.

    Not to be critical, but it’s a pet peeve of mine that everybody reports things as fact , when the only known fact is that some politician said the things were facts. Sort of like reporting that GOPs want to pass the tax thing because they “need a win”. All we know is that when asked why, they SAID they need a win – and that they can’t say publicly “we’re doing this for our wealthy donors”. (Although one or two of them were dumb enough to say that.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Mark Ivey says:

    “Ty Cobb, the personal lawyer for President Trump, described Flynn in a statement today as: ‘a former National Security Advisor at the Trump White House for only 25 days and a former Obama administration official’

    So General Flynn is a deep state liberal now.. :)

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  10. Facebones says:

    LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP!

    But seriously, is there anything these Trumpies accused Hillary of that they haven’t already done themselves, and ten times worse?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  11. Bill says:

    @Mark Ivey:

    So General Flynn is a deep state liberal now..

    Next up- DT don’t care much for Jared. Many fathers feel that way about the men who date/marry their daughter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. Paul L. says:

    I hope this lesson learned will be.
    Never Talk to the FBI without a lawyer and record all conversations with the FBI.

    Republicans should have learned this with Scooter Libby. But they love cops & order too much..

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 21

  13. CET says:

    Oh man….Christmas came early for me this year…it’s not everything I wanted (yet), but it’s a start.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Dumb Don to Comey…

    “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,”

    yeah…not so much…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:

    Innocent people don’t have to worry about talking to the FBI. But that is excellent advice for a traitor like Mike Flynn. If you’ve sold your country out to Putin and Erdogan for cash, you should definitely have a lawyer with you when the FBI comes a callin’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  16. SenyorDave says:

    I remember reading once that one of the things Trump hated about Obama was that he became so famous (apparently Trump didn’t realize that all US presidents become famous). I think in 2018 Donald will get his wish, he’ll be incredibly famous, and his name will be in many news stories. I imagine there will be many, many books that will be written about the (hopefully short and disgraced) Trump presidency.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. I’ve posted the video of this in an update above, but I’m also adding it here.

    ABC News is reporting that Flynn will testify that it was Trump who ordered him to meet with the Russians in December 2016.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  18. CSK says:

    @Bill:

    It will be amusing to see that supercilious sleazebag Kushner get nailed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:
    Scooter Libby?
    You seem to have a soft spot for traitors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  20. michael reynolds says:

    I wonder what the Breitbart line will be on this? I could check. . . or, I could just wait for @MBunge and @Guarneri and @JKB to come toddling along and regurgitate it for our entertainment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  21. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Bill:

    DT don’t care much for Jared. Many fathers feel that way about the men who date/marry their daughter.

    DT fvcks Ivanka while Jared watches from a small cage at the side of the bed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  22. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I wonder what the Breitbart line will be on this?

    Fake News

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Franklin says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: I could have done without that image.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  24. Scott F. says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I guess the lesson is to avoid entering into a criminal enterprise with your children. When the law comes after both you AND yours, it is much tougher to take a hard line in the plea bargaining.

    I’ve seen Jack McCoy exploit that in a few L&O episodes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  25. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Eli Lake at Bloomberg is reporting that Kushner gave the order to Flynn to contact Russia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. Facebones says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I make the total number of ‘more important’ people four: Jared, Ivanka, Pence and Trump.

    I wonder how many people Trump wouldn’t throw under the bus to save himself. I’m not even sure Ivanka would escape. Don Jr and Eric, forget it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  27. michael reynolds says:

    My guess is Jared’s next to be indicted. Maybe in a month? I expect that to be on obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI and lying on various disclosures. Jared pushed for Trump to fire Comey and that, in context, is obstruction of justice. One report has Jared as the guy who transmitted Trump’s ‘call Putin’ instruction to Flynn.

    But (still speculating) I assume Jared is betting on a pardon – which of course proves Mueller’s obstruction case against Trump – a case that frankly could be made right now with publicly available information. There is no real doubt that Trump is guilty of obstruction, that’s baked in the pie.

    The question is whether Mueller has a means to get around Jared’s expectation of a pardon. He had a way to get a handle on Flynn, does he also have a handle on Jared and Ivanka? If Jared can be convinced that he faces prison time, he’ll roll over on Trump. And that will be the ballgame, because Jared doesn’t just know about obstruction and lies, I think he knows the extent to which Trump is owned by the Russians.

    Then our resident Trump apologists will have to explain how it’s perfectly OK to launder mob money and to obstruct justice and to lie to the Feebs and to betray the United States to Russia. I’m sure they’ll be up to the task – once you’ve excused a man who attempted to rape a 14 year-old child, what can’t you excuse?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Facebones:

    But seriously, is there anything these Trumpies accused Hillary of that they haven’t already done themselves, and ten times worse?

    No. And there isn’t a single thing they falsely accuse Obama and Pelosi of doing on Obamacare that they haven’t done in spades on health care and this crappy tax reform (sic) bill.

    Tried to call Sen. Portman’s local office. Mailbox full. Did leave a msg on his Washington line. Sent him a letter a week or two ago. Said only “Re: repeal of ACA mandate in tax bill. OK, now you’re just trolling us, right?”

    My gawd they’re a clown act. Trump and all the rest of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  29. charon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status/936602442996813824

    According to Abramson, Trump or Pence or both must be who is given up. Of course, there could be others in addition to those two naames.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @Facebones:
    I considered Don Jr., but could not get myself to believe that Don Jr. is more important than Flynn. Or anyone, really.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. Paul L. says:

    @michael reynolds:
    Nice to see you trust Law Enforcement and believe that they never lie.
    Protect Yourself from FBI Manipulation (w/attorney Harvey Silverglate)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgDsbjAYXcQ

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 14

  32. charon says:

    @charon:

    Realistically, Flynn’s deal is so much less than he could be charged with he must be giving up Trump Sr. to get it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  33. gVOR08 says:

    You know, if Ty Cobb told Trumpsky this would be over by the end of the year, he might have been right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  34. michael reynolds says:

    @charon:

    Excellent thread, thanks. I’ve been staying off Twitter and have discovered that I’m a much happier person, though it is a bit of a handicap in keeping up with the very latest.

    I suggested many months ago that Trump’s best bet was to pardon, resign and GTF outta the country. He’s holding a losing hand and he can’t bluff for sh!t, so time to fold.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  35. michael reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:

    You’re right, the FBI are liars. We need to immediately release anyone ever convicted on FBI evidence.

    Right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  36. HarvardLaw92 says:

    All this winning. So much winning I can’t stand it.

    😀

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  37. grumpy realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92: What is your take on the latest? And can Trump get himself out of his corner by pardons left right and center (including himself)?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  38. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    My take is that this senior transition official pushing about Israeli settlements can only be one person, and that person is next on the firing line.

    The presidential power to pardon is essentially unlimited, so he can pardon anybody, including himself. I have my doubts that he will do so at this point because, at basis, he will never admit that he has a problem. He’ll try to throw others under the bus to save himself, which is what he has always done.

    The problem with pardons is that he waited far too long. Anything he does now will force Congressional Republicans to throw him under the bus in order to get away from the optics & the stink in order to save their own reelection campaigns. A significant portion of them are lawyers, several were prosecutors , and whatever their other failings they may be, they’re not stupid. They see the writing on the wall and they know how this plays out from here.

    Kushner is next, and that will put Trump into the position of ripping his family apart and alienating his daughter in order to try to save his own behind.

    It’s about to really get entertaining.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  39. Paul L. says:

    @michael reynolds:
    Your heroes in the FBI attacked someone videoing them. in public.
    The Courts have said it is perfectly legal for Law Enforcement to lie to you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 14

  40. MarkedMan says:

    I’m a bit suspicious of the news that Flynn is serving up Trump. That could only come from Mueller or Flynn. Mueller operation has been tight as Tupperware and I don’t see how leaking would benefit Flynn, unless he is trying to telegraph a last ditch plea for a pardon. Trump has so little incentive for that because if he is pardoned he has to spill everything he knows or he could be imprisoned for contempt. And given his insane avarice I would bet there are significant state level charges lined up, and a pardon wouldn’t help there. Michael, I think the list of P.O. I’m not saying that Flynn isn’t squealing on Trump, just that I take the ABC News report with a grain of salt.

    FWIW, I offer a slightly different list than Michael of who Mueller might be willing to trade a former Defense Secretary for. It would only be someone with their hands on the levers of government at the highest level. So I would put it at Trump, Sessions, Mattis, Tillerson, Mnuchin, Coats, Pompeo, Mulvaney, Ross, Nielson, Kelly, Pence in the category of “definitely worth the trade” and in roughly that order. Jared might come next, but I suspect he has a lot on Jared at both the federal and state level and could pick and choose what to charge him with. The Trump brats? I don’t think he would trade for them, they have no real power and as far as the boys are stupid enough that they will probably get swept up no matter what happens. And Trump would pardon all three in a heartbeat and they would continue to lie to cover up for him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  41. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Kushner is a means to an end. He’s not the ultimate target.

    Flynn gets him Kushner, and Kushner is family. He’s on the inside. What he knows is far deadlier.

    And when Trump declines to pardon him / save his ass because he expects everybody to fall on their sword to protect him, which he probably will, Jared will start singing. Beautiful music …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  42. charon says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’m a bit suspicious of the news that Flynn is serving up Trump

    It is not exactly news – it is the only logical explanation for Flynn being permitted to plea to such minimal charges.

    Flynn must have given up someone higher on the food chain, (that is how these deals work) which is a universe of two names: Trump and Pence.

    He could be giving up other names also, but one of those two must be included.

    (Pence is probably not important enough for the deal Flynn received.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  43. the Q says:

    Mr. Reynolds, here’s what the wingnuts are saying:

    “So what? Trump was only asking him to contact Russians, not collude with them.”

    “Why aren’t Hillary’s contact with Russian officials over the Uranium deal getting any scrutiny by the FBI?”

    “Never forget the “Comey will testify that he never told Trump that he was not under investigation”

    “So far I’ve seen no evidence of anything illegal, other than the lesser charge that Flynn, who’s the one who flipped, lied to the FBI. Not really a crime involving Trump directly nor a security breach or treason. All incoming administrations have conversations with foreign governments before they take office.”

    Trump’s right. He could shoot Roy Moore in broad daylight on Park Avenue and his supporters wouldn’t flinch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. A second update

    NBC News is saying that the order to contact the Russians actually came from Jared Kushner, although that’s arguably the same as an order coming directly from Trump himself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  45. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @the Q:

    No worries. Some 33% of Americans surveyed at the time were prepared to vote for Nixon again AFTER he’d resigned in disgrace.

    Support didn’t save Nixon’s ass either.

    Although I have to admit that I don’t want to leave. Pence would be far worse and, to be frank, I’m enjoying watching the GOP eat its poisoned oatmeal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  46. MarkedMan says:

    @charon:

    It is not exactly news – it is the only logical explanation for Flynn being permitted to plea to such minimal charges.

    I’m not questioning the logic. But ABC is reporting it as if they had confirmation from a source who would know. They may have gotten that confirmation but I’m skeptical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  47. MarkedMan says:

    With respect to the Abramson twitter thread linked to above, where he concludes it can only be Pence or Trump, Abramson seems to be taking a straightforward law enforcement view on this: you only cut a deal for someone higher on the org chart, or for a multiple of people at your level. In a normal criminal prosecution that would make sense. But these crimes entail a direct and immediate threat to US national security. I would think Mueller is looking at who can do the most damage. With those dynamics, Flynn is worth trading for that long list I posted above, at the very least. Yes, when he was still National Security Advisor he was capable of doing great harm, and by lying about his Russian contacts to the public, had willingly put himself ino a position to be blackmailed by the them. But he is no longer NSA head. If he could provide testimony that someone with current governmental power, say, Sessions, was in cahoots with the Russians, or in a position to be blackmailed, it would be worth a trade.

    It’s a question of trading someone who will never be in a position again to harm the country in order to stop someone who is an active traitor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  48. charon says:

    @MarkedMan:

    https://www.justsecurity.org/47552/flynn-plea-deal-mean/

    excerpt:

    What’s far more likely is that Flynn has very good information and was therefore in a strong bargaining position. “I think that’s most likely what’s going on here, and that would be very bad news for Trump,” Alex said.

    The reward Flynn is receiving for his cooperation appears to be substantial and that brings into sharp focus just how significant his evidence is likely to be, Alex also noted. “The plea agreement contains a calculation of the guideline range for Flynn’s guilty plea, which is calculated to be 0 to 6 months. The government also agrees not to prosecute Flynn for any other charges arising out of the statement of facts. This means that if Flynn fulfills his end of the bargain, it is a certainty that he will not spend a day in jail. In light of the evidence of Flynn’s overall misconduct, this result strongly indicates that Flynn has very important information to offer.”

    Asha agreed. “I think Flynn is giving up the goods, big time.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  49. MarkedMan says:

    @charon: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it isn’t Trump, only that I would be surprised that ABC or anyone else could have confirmed that from a reliable source. And I also agree that Mueller wouldn’t allow Flynn to essentially walk unless he was delivering up someone with a major impact. The pundits seem to think that must mean Trump or Kushner. And perhaps that’s the case. But we are talking about one traitor, Flynn, no longer an active mole in our government, fingering another traitor, who is an active mole and still has their hands on the levers of power. The “Are They Worth It?” equation for that solves differently than a simple “Who Is Higher On the Org Chart” factoring.

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  50. michael reynolds says:

    @the Q:

    Trump has about 38% support. We don’t need the whole 38%, we just need five or six points. Get him down to 33% the GOP will panic and suddenly discover that Trump is either crazy or a crook. He’s both, but either one will do.

    Or we take the House in 2018 and Trump’s at 33%.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that if (when) Trump panics and fires Mueller, he’ll lose enough support that even some Republicans will remember that they’re Americans.

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  51. michael reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Interesting observation.

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  52. Mister Bluster says:

    @Franklin:..I could have done without that image.

    I could have done without this one.
    It is turning out to be far more destructive to the Republican Form of Government guaranteed in Article IV, Section 4, USCON than any images of First Family degenerate debauchery Darrryl or any of the other freaks on these threads could ever come up with.

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  53. JohnMcC says:

    @MarkedMan: Buzzfeed reports that an ‘unnamed transition official’ is their source for the Flynn-talked-to-Jared column. This unnamed person tells them he was in the room during the calls and that Flynn chatted with him about the calls.

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  54. michael reynolds says:

    @JohnMcC:
    Reince’s revenge?

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  55. Sleeping Dog says:

    @michael reynolds:

    …even some Republicans will remember that they’re Americans.

    Michael, are you really that naive? If by this point Repubs haven’t turned on Trump they’re not. Remember Nixon resigned before the impeachment trial, it is very much an open question as to whether the Senate would have convicted him.

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  56. An Interested Party says:

    We’re rapidly approaching the “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” moment, if we haven’t already…the question is, which, if any, Republican says that enough is enough and this treasonous behavior needs to be dealt with…any guesses on who that Republican might be, if such a person even exists at this point…

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  57. By way of an update, I have updated this post to included embedded copies of two additional court documents in the Flynn case. The Statement of Offense, which sets forth the nature of the charges, and the Plea Agreement between Flynn and the DoJ.

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  58. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Get him down to 33% the GOP will panic

    Your math would make sense if “the GOP” made decisions about its own best interests, but the reality is that there is no such thing as a GOP that decides anything. Each Republican congress critter is first and foremost looking to save their own seat, and if that fails, preserving their chance to ride on the wingnut gravy train. Even in a purple state, you have to depend on your core and the Republican core is 80% Trump. Even if that got down to 75% the election math is still virtually the same. Voting to impeach Trump will cost a Democrat nothing and may even give them a boost. But a Republican who votes to impeach Trump? I bet they lose 25-50% of their Republican vote. And at this point what Democrat would vote for any Republican? Remember, the very few Republicans that have decided to call out Trump’s behavior realize doing so means they have no chance of reelection and have, to a man, dropped out.

    As happy as I am that Trump’s co-conspirators and fellow traitors may actually serve time, I have no illusions that any but a few Republicans will vote for impeachment, even with a Democratic House and Senate. Right now I think the only thing that will get trump out before January 2021 is one or two states’ Attorneys General jeopardizing his business with criminal investigations, and the threat of imprisonment at the state level after he leaves office. At that point I could see everyone agreeing to a deal for him to resign, Pence to pardon him, and the AG’s holding things in abeyance. Not strictly kosher, but it could be pulled off behind closed doors for the good of the country.

    If that were to happen, I would be willing to bet the day that Mitch McConnell marches into Trump’s office and explains how it will go down will be the most bittersweet happy day of his life.

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  59. Kari Q says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I must be missing something. I don’t see the problem with a president-elect telling a member of his transition team to contact a foreign country. The way they did it was probably all kinds of wrong. They should certainly have acted in concert with the current administration, at very least telling them that they were doing so and what they intended to discuss, and preferably asking the current officials concerned to be directly involved with the discussions.

    But, on the face of it, I don’t understand why a president-elect couldn’t or shouldn’t do this. What I don’t get is why they would lie about it if there was nothing extremely illegal going on.

    Can someone enlighten me as to why it would be wrong (absent the presumption that what they actually talked about was, itself, illegal)?

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  60. michael reynolds says:

    @Kari Q:
    Why did Trump ask him to make the call. That’s the question.

    The crime we know of is that Flynn lied to the FBI about that call. That’s a felony. And rather begs the question of just why he would feel the need to lie to the FBI. Pretty clear that Trump/Kushner had more to say than just, “Give Kislyak a call.”

    But it is highly likely that the FBI has a whole pocketful of other charges they can nail him with if he fails to produce. His balls are in Mueller’s vise.

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  61. Kari Q says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I completely agree that Flynn lying means there was something that Mueller would be very interested in going on during that discussion. I get that.

    I don’t understand why the simple instruction “call the Russians” is being treated as evidence of wrong doing, because I would think that would be fairly normal. Am I wrong? Is it highly unusual for a transition member to talk to a foreign power? Or is that Flynn’s position makes him the wrong person to make the contact?

    I feel like I skipped to the end of a mystery novel and get the “who with what weapon part” but missed the motive.

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  62. rachel says:

    @Paul L.:

    Never Talk to the FBI without a lawyer and record all conversations with the FBI.

    Wow. I actually agree with you on something.

    It’s also a good idea to not commit crimes; and if you do, just plead the Fifth when the cops come to talk to you. Do not lie to them.

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  63. MarkedMan says:

    @Kari Q:

    The Logan Act (1 Stat. 613, 18 U.S.C. § 953, enacted January 30, 1799) is a United States federal law that details the fine and/or imprisonment of unauthorized citizens who negotiate with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States.

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  64. charon says:

    @Kari Q:

    I don’t understand why the simple instruction “call the Russians” is being treated as evidence of wrong doing, because I would think that would be fairly normal. Am I wrong?

    It is what they discussed that can be a problem.

    In this case it seems they discussed removing the sanctions that Obama imposed as punishment for the Russian election meddling. That amounts to sabotaging the foreign policy of the then-current President. which is improper.

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  65. charon says:

    @charon:

    This sort of thing has been done before with no penalty e.g., Nixon undermining LBJ with the Vietnamese, Reagan kneecapping Jimmy Carter in Iran. Still not right though.

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  66. gVOR08 says:

    @charon: No one has ever been prosecuted over the Hatch act, and Flynn and Trump won’t be either. The question is WHY they sent Flynn to talk to Kislyak. If it turns out to be because they had just figured out the Russians helped Trump get elected and sent Flynn to say ‘Hey, we won’t sanction you for helping us.” they may get away with it. If they sent Flynn to say “Hey.don’t overreact, we’ll hold up our end of our deal and kill the sanctions.” they’re going to jail. If they sent Flynn because Trump was afraid the Russians would call in his loans, that’s not necessarily a criminal charge, but it sure would be grounds for impeachment. (Being subject to blackmail isn’t a crime, but “high crimes and misdemeanors” are whatever 2/3 of the House say they are. And this assumes a D majority in the House in 2019 and enough public outrage to motivate a few Rs.)

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  67. charon says:

    @gVOR08:

    (Being subject to blackmail isn’t a crime, but “high crimes and misdemeanors” are whatever 2/3 of the House say they are. And this assumes a D majority in the House in 2019 and enough public outrage to motivate a few Rs.)

    It only takes a majority in the House to impeach.

    After impeachment, it goes to the Senate for trial, where 2/3 is necessary to convict.

    I think impeachment (after 2018) would be worthwhile even with no conviction. There still would be a Senate trial with evidence presented, if the GOP senators vote to acquit they can own their votes, the public will have seen the evidence.

    Impeaching Clinton only backfired on the GOP because the charges were such BS, that would not be the case here.

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  68. JohnMcC says:

    @gVOR08: I bet you are talking abut the Logan Act instead of the Hatch Act. Hatch Act is about improper political activities of executive branch employees/staffers/etc so perhaps it’s applicable – but I haven’t heard of it being used in this affair. (I see the original reason for the law is that WPA workers were sent campaigning – or were alleged to have been.)

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  69. Mikey says:

    So this morning, Trump tweeted this:

    Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump

    I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!

    So, by his own admission, at the time Trump was pushing Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn, which was after Flynn had been sacked, Trump already knew Flynn had lied to the FBI.

    Trump basically just tweeted an admission to obstruction of justice.

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  70. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Mikey:

    He can’t stop himself. The guy doesn’t know (and ever has) when to speak and when to shut up.

    That makes him a fool. It also makes him a prosecutor’s dream come true.

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  71. gVOR08 says:

    @JohnMcC: Quite right. Brainfart. Thank you.

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  72. JKB says:

    So ABC News crashed the market with “fake” news about candidate Trump. Now Brian Ross is suspended without pay.

    More importantly, some no doubt were all for “collusion” but now must face the reality that if it is proved, the market will crash and cost them money. So, if they don’t really believe in “collusion” they may start hoping it dies.

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  73. MarkedMan says:

    @JKB: You just can’t imagine a world where people simply care about our country and the damage Trump is doing to it, can you. Everything to you is just a game and a zero sum game at that, so you can’t get beyond the horror that if Your chosen boy Trump is down the people you see as your enemies must be up. The reality is that Trump drags is all down. There is no “up” for anyone right now.

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  74. Mikey says:

    @JKB: For 20 years of my life I pledged to give my life, if necessary, defending our country against all enemies. I couldn’t care less about losing money in the stock market if it meant getting rid of the enemy in the White House.

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  75. An Interested Party says:

    More importantly, some no doubt were all for “collusion” but now must face the reality that if it is proved, the market will crash and cost them money. So, if they don’t really believe in “collusion” they may start hoping it dies.

    Ohhh, so saving/making a couple of bucks is more important than exposing treason? Wow, I didn’t think you could get anymore disgusting, but there you are…

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  76. JKB says:

    @An Interested Party: Ohhh, so saving/making a couple of bucks is more important than exposing treason?

    The question is whether those with the clout are willing to continue the charade with their money in the market or will the pull out of the market and watch it rise while they bide their time waiting for the wet dream to climax. Me, I expect well see less interest by the monied interests.

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  77. Mikey says:

    @JKB: They won’t lose any money long-term. They can afford the high-powered accountants and advisers to tell them how to shuffle money around. They’ll end up with even more of the nation’s wealth, as they did after the Great Recession.

    They’re only tolerating Trump as long as he’s useful. Once he signs this abomination of a tax scam, and they get the tax cut they want, they’ll be far more amenable to having the full truth of Russian collusion come out, Trump gone, and Pence installed in the Oval Office.

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  78. charon says:

    @Mikey:

    having the full truth of Russian collusion come out, Trump gone, and Pence installed in the Oval Office.

    Things could be even more complicated if Pence is involved in the Russia stuff. Recall that Manafort was the guy pushing the Pence selection.

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  79. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    I have money in the market. If Trump is thrown out and the market falls a thousand points, you know what I’ll do? I will open a bottle of Champagne – just like I did when Osama Bin Laden was killed.

    You are so utterly clueless about human beings, so morally and spiritually stunted. Dummy: do you think I didn’t know when I voted for Obama that he would raise my taxes? Do you think when I voted for the California initiative to raise state taxes on people like me, I didn’t know it applied to people like me?

    Rich conservatives treat people like you as serfs. Rich Democrats try to elevate people like you to a better life – even if it is at their (my) own expense. But since slave times guys like you have been too blind to see the screamingly obvious. You’ll vote your tribe even as your tribe drains the last drop of your blood.

    You’re the intellectual heir to the stupid fwcks who died for the confederacy so that rich whites could keep slaves and pay poor whites nothing. No cure for stupid.

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  80. JKB says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Well, obviously, the delusional zealots are going to ride it out. But what about the run of the mill guys. You need support to remove a President. You don’t have it in the constitutional majority. Do you think you’ll keep it among the monied market players? Ultimately, they are for a strong economy and strong market.

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  81. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Just as a coda to this thread, it turns out that the ABC news report saying that Flynn had served up Trump was based on shoddy journalism and the correspondent responsible has been suspended for four weeks. As I said above, it wouldn’t surprise me if Flynn served up Trump, but the idea that either Mueller’s team or Flynn himself revealed this seemed hard to believe, and those are the only two groups that would know.

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  82. Hi friends, how is everything, and what you want to say on the topic of this article, in my view its in fact remarkable designed for me.

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  83. Tyrell says:

    How far will Mueller and his people go on this? How about the internet, email, texts, phone calls, book records, blogs, and private activities of the people during these political investigations? Who protects and watches out for us? Are our holiday get together discussions being watched – through our cell phones, cable boxes, or pc’s? Are church sermons and church records being looked at?
    “Who’s monitoring the monitors?” (“Enemy of the State”)

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