Is Michael Flynn is cooperating with investigators?
The question may be speculative, but it’s not idle speculation.
Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Carter Page have all said they want to testify before the House Committee on Intelligence about the growing Russia-White House scandal. “Nothing from Flynn yet,” John Schindler, formerly of NSA counter-intelligence, tweets, “Fill in the blanks.”
I’ve strongly suspected Flynn had already cut a deal with the FBI from the minute the story broke about him registering as a foreign agent. It was probably fairly easy for the FBI to convince him to go along with it, as they already have him nailed on the felony of lying to them about Russia several months ago (source: Washington Post). Now that he’s the only one of the four known campaign targets who’s not running to the Congressional committee show-trials, it seems all the more obvious.
There’s no question that Flynn is in legal trouble. He’s violated the Foreign Agent Registration Act and probably the Logan Act, though that law may not be prosecutable. In addition to these offenses, Flynn may have violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution when he spoke at the Russia Today 10th Anniversary gala. Add conspiracy to kidnapping to the list and Flynn has serious trouble. There’s no evidence to suggest that Flynn had lied to investigators at any point, but that would also be a legal concern for the general who’s been fired from two presidential administrations.
This week the Wall Street Journal reported that Former CIA Director James Woolsley was present at a meeting where Flynn, some other Americans, and some Turkish officials discussed kidnapping exiled Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen. The meeting took place at… one of Trump’s hotels. The Journal is paywalled, but the Palmer Report has a subscription and offers its summary on the events:
Long-retired former CIA Director James Woolsey was an adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign. He eventually quit during the transition period, diplomatically suggesting that his role had run its course. But he’s now publicly disclosing something which may have been a factor. Last summer Michael Flynn brought Woolsey along to a meeting with representatives from the Turkish government, where they discussed theoretical plans for abducting Turkish dissident Fethullah Gulen from his home in Pennsylvania and shipping him back to Turkey. During the same meeting, Flynn tried to hire Woolsey as a consultant to his firm, in the name of furthering this plot against Gulen.
Woolsey now says he was taken aback by what he overheard at the meeting, and he suspected that even the discussion about abducting Gulen was a crime. So he refused Flynn’s money, and instead he reported the meeting to the federal government.
Flynn has been on the U.S. intelligence radar since 2015 when he took money from the Russians for delivering a speech at which included a well-publicized, well-compensated speech at Russia Today’s 10th Anniversary Gala. Last summer, Flynn was reported by Woolsley for discussing the kidnap of Gulen with Turkish officials. That would be enough for a FISA warrant for the NSA and the FBI and allowed the transcription and analysis of Flynn’s discussions with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Although not quite incriminating, Flynn’s ability to lie certainly raises questions about his guilt. At first, Flynn flatly denied discussing sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; he subsequently changed his story and claimed that he couldn’t remember whether he discussed sanctions.
Aspiring liars should note that people who use the “I don’t recall” strategy usually begin, not end, with it. Even then, it stretches credibility when a liar has five conversations with someone in one day and claims not to remember what they talked about.
It’s no surprise then that Sally Yates was scheduled to testify at the House Intelligence Committee’s now cancelled hearing on Tuesday. Yates was the acting Attorney General who informed the Trump Administration that Flynn had not been truthful about his contacts with Russia related to sanctions and that he was vulnerable to blackmail by Russian intelligence Flynn may have lied to Congress.
Like much coming out of the White House these days, the White House came up with a cover story. that covered less than a nightie from Victoria’s secret: Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence.
Elijah Cummings the top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform told then Vice President-elect Mike Pence in a November letter that the man Donald Trump had tapped to be his national security adviser was lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.
The cancellation of the House Intelligence Committee open hearing on Tuesday–it may only be the “open” that was cancelled–is a speed bump. Carrying water for Trump, Devin Nunes has likely destroyed not only his committee’s credibility but his career. Nunes is one of the less affluent members of Congress. He has a $50,000 stake in a winery. Guess which country buys a lot of its wine?