Why did Flynn lie about his conversations with the Russian ambassador?
Why has the White House told you so many lies about this story?
Why has Trump been exerting so much time and energy to try to get those investigating this matter to stop? CNN's Jake Tapper asks after former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn plead guilty lying to the FBI http://cnn.it/2AknzO3
For starters, it portends the likelihood of impeachable charges being brought against the president of the United States. Mr. Flynn, a former national security adviser, acknowledged that he was cooperating with the investigation. His testimony could bring into the light a scandal of historic proportions in which the not-yet-installed Trump administration, including Donald Trump personally, sought to subvert American foreign policy before taking office.
The repercussions of the plea will be months in the making, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that the events to which Mr. Flynn has agreed to testify will take their place in the history books alongside the Watergate and Iran-contra scandals.
We’re in new — and highly inflammatory — territory. Here are 10 immediate takeaways from today’s news.
This is not a meet-in-the-middle deal. Both sides did not assess their risks and decide to hedge them with a compromise. Rather, as we’ve known for weeks, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, believed he had sufficient evidence to indict Mr. Flynn on a long list of criminal charges, including money laundering, tax offense and false statements. Mr. Mueller’s team, as is standard prosecutorial practice, presented Mr. Flynn with that list and helped him understand that his life as he knew it had ended.
This is much bigger than Paul Manafort. Mr. Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, has been indicted, but this is a plea, and Mr. Flynn’s cooperation — the real goal of bringing criminal charges — has been secured. This puts Mr. Flynn in the same camp as George Papadopoulos, the campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the F.B.I. on Oct. 5 and is also cooperating with the investigation. Unlike Mr. Papadopoulos, though, Mr. Flynn was a top adviser who was at the center of communication with Russia as well as the potential obstruction of justice by President Trump in seeking to shut down the Flynn investigation itself. Mr. Flynn was considered as a running mate and reportedly stayed quite close to the president even after being forced out of the administration in February.
Mr. Flynn has just become the prosecution’s star witness. Mr. Flynn’s plea on Friday concerned just one crime. The other charges that prosecutors threatened him with continue to hang over him. Mr. Flynn will not receive credit for his cooperation until after it has ended, at which point Mr. Mueller may — if Mr. Flynn has held up his end of the bargain — move to dismiss the other charges. In the interim, Mr. Flynn has to do anything Mr. Mueller’s team requests. The charge Mr. Flynn is pleading guilty to is a stunning one. He is admitting that last December, before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, he asked the Russian ambassador at the time, Sergey Kislyak, to refrain from reacting aggressively to sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed on Russia. Russia reportedly agreed and Mr. Kislyak told Mr. Flynn later that it had chosen to moderate its response to the sanctions to make nice with the Trump team.
It seems Mr. Trump himself directed Mr. Flynn to make contact with the Russians. If Mr. Flynn testifies to this — ABC’s Brian Ross is reporting that he will — it presents another impeachable offense along with the possible obstruction of justice. Even more, it brings the whole matter well outside the purview of the criminal courts into the province of a political scandal, indicating abuses of power arguably well beyond those in the Watergate and Iran-contra affairs.
Mr. Flynn asked Russia to intervene at the United Nations on behalf of Israel. He is admitting that last Dec. 22, he asked Mr. Kislyak to delay or defeat a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel for its settlement policy, which the Obama administration had decided to let pass. The possible involvement or knowledge of Israel in the case will be one of many questions that congressional investigators will pursue. The lying is bad. Conducting rogue American foreign policy is worse. In the end, Mr. Flynn’s lies are secondary to the demonstration that the Trump administration was actively undermining American foreign policy before it took office. This will most likely prove the most abiding scandalous fact of the Mueller investigation. And it’s one that nobody on either side of the aisle could possibly defend.
Mr. Flynn’s cooperation portends extreme peril for a variety of people in the president’s orbit. Most immediately vulnerable? Jared Kushner. Mr. Flynn was present at a Dec. 1, 2016, Trump Tower meeting where Mr. Kushner is said to have proposed to Mr. Kislyak setting up a back channel for the transition team to communicate with Moscow.
Those and related details are now front and center in the investigation. Criminal liability aside, Friday’s news — including a report that Mr. Kushner was the one who directed Mr. Flynn to contact Russia — helps cement Mr. Kushner’s reputation as a callow and arrogant freelancer, authorized by the president to act way over his head, and possibly impairing some of the most delicate and important issues of foreign policy. (A possible winner, on the other hand, is the younger Mike Flynn, about whose criminal liability his father was extremely concerned. Look to see how Mr. Mueller now chooses to treat the younger Mr. Flynn, who is being investigated over his work for his father’s lobbying business.)
Mr. Flynn’s plea raises the likelihood that he will give testimony in support of a potential obstruction of justice charge against Mr. Trump. The basis for the possible obstruction charge against the president has been his efforts to get the F.B.I. director, James Comey, to shut down the Flynn investigation during a Feb. 14 meeting in the Oval Office, coupled with his multiple lies on the subject. Obstruction is plainly an impeachable offense: It’s the offense for which Richard Nixon was threatened with impeachment.
For months, it has seemed the possible culminating charge of the Mueller investigation, a straightforward and readily understandable high crime or misdemeanor. Such a charge, per Department of Justice policy, would not be brought in the criminal courts but would rather form the basis of a report to Congress potentially recommending impeachment. If Mr. Mueller brings that charge, it will be on the strength of Mr. Flynn’s testimony.
Mr. Trump’s defenders have fewer and fewer cards to play. There had been a prospect that the obstruction of justice charge, if it did come, would be dismissed by die-hard Trump supporters as subject to conflicting interpretations of Mr. Trump’s state of mind, and therefore not deserving of impeachment or removal. No longer. Now Mr. Trump and his circle will stand accused by a former member of the administration with plainly unconstitutional meddling in the most sensitive of foreign policy issues. If the Congress and country believe Michael Flynn’s account, it is hard to see what even the staunchest Trump defenders can say in defense. That means that as Mr. Trump and the administration look out at the new landscape featuring a guilty Michael Flynn, it’s kill or be killed.
BREAKING: MORE TRUMP-BARR CORRUPTION: "Attorney General William Barr is scrutinizing another case into a Trump associate: He assigned a prosecutor to review Michael Flynn’s case."
Barr Installs Outside Prosecutor to Review Case Against Michael Flynn, Ex-Trump Adviser
Amid turmoil in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, the attorney general has also sent outside prosecutors to review other politically sensitive cases.
Michael T. Flynn was President Trump’s first national security adviser. He pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I.Credit...Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
By Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo
Feb. 14, 2020, 1:02 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned an outside prosecutor to scrutinize the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, according to people familiar with the matter.
The review is highly unusual and could trigger more accusations of political interference by top Justice Department officials into the work of career prosecutors.
Mr. Barr has also installed a handful of outside prosecutors to broadly review the handling of other politically sensitive national-security cases in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, the people said. The team includes at least one prosecutor from the office of the United States attorney in St. Louis, Jeff Jensen, who is handling the Flynn matter, as well as prosecutors from the office of the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen.
Over the past two weeks, the outside prosecutors have begun grilling line prosecutors in the Washington office about various cases — some public, some not — including investigative steps, prosecutorial actions and why they took them, according to the people. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive internal deliberations.
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The Justice Department declined to comment.
The intervention has contributed a turbulent period for the prosecutors’ office that oversees the seat of the federal government and some of the most politically sensitive investigations and cases — some involving President Trump’s friends and allies, and some his critics and adversaries.
This week, four line prosecutors quit the case against Roger Stone Jr., Mr. Trump’s close adviser, after Mr. Barr overruled their recommendation that a judge sentence him within sentencing guidelines. Mr. Barr’s intervention was preceded by criticism of the original sentencing recommendation by Mr. Trump and praised by him afterward, and Mr. Barr on Thursday publicly asked Mr. Trump to stop commenting about the Justice Department.
On Tuesday, Mr. Barr and Mr. Rosen overruled career prosecutors’ recommendation that a judge sentence Mr. Trump’s friend Roger Stone Jr. to seven to nine years in prison after a jury found him guilty of witness intimidation and several false statements charges, in accordance with standard sentencing guidelines, and insisted on a lower recommendation.
After Mr. Trump complained that the sentence for Mr. Stone — who had refused to cooperate with prosecutors by telling the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, what he knew about Mr. Trump and WikiLeaks — all four career prosecutors quit the case.
Mr. Barr on Thursday gave an interview in which he publicly called on Mr. Trump to stop commenting on the Justice Department, saying it was making it impossible for him to do his job. But Mr. Trump said on Friday he had every right to tell the Justice Department what to do in criminal cases.
President Trump had nominated Ms. Liu for a top Treasury Department position in December, and she initially told her colleagues that she would stay on until her confirmation. But Mr. Barr then asked her to leave early, and she was given a temporary role at the Treasury Department, clearing the way for him to install Mr. Shea in her place.
Attorney General William Barr is having an outside prosecutor review the criminal case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The New York Times called it a "highly unusual" move that could "trigger more accusations of political interference by top Justice Department officials into the work of career prosecutors."
Barr has reportedly been installing outside prosecutors to review numerous politically-sensitive cases including that of the former Trump adviser, who in 2017 pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Since then, Flynn has been trying to change his plea to not guilty. Jeff Jensen of the office of the United States attorney in St. Louis is reportedly examining the Flynn case.