With no smoking gun, the anxious Left’s euphoria is premature.
Former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn’s endlessly hyped plea bargain does not signal the beginning of the end for the Trump administration, no matter how ardently the mainstream media and left-wing political hacks want it to be so.
It is merely an inevitable consequence of the perjury traps set by the corrupt Washington swamp-dwelling Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and sprung by otherwise law-abiding Trump operatives. Mueller was appointed May 17 by Rod J. Rosenstein, in his capacity as acting Attorney General by virtue of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ self-initiated recusal in the Russian electoral interference investigation.
The euphoria on the Left is premature.
The Flynn matter is an inconvenient bump in the road with bad political optics in the short term, not a harbinger of Armageddon. It may even constitute an admission by Mueller that this is all he has against the Trump administration and that he is running out of options as a prosecutor.
For now at least, there is still no evidence President Trump covered up a crime, either before or after taking office, or even that there was an underlying crime to be covered up. But the longer this runaway wrecking ball of an investigation into the Left’s utterly unsubstantiated Russia-Trump electoral collusion conspiracy theory goes on, the greater the likelihood that well-intentioned Trump administration officials will get caught up in its merciless machinery.
There is no underlying crime. There is no indication an underlying crime of any kind whatsoever will ever be discovered. “Collusion” is not a crime, but if it were former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose family and family foundation were enriched by the Russians, would presumably be guilty of it for letting the Russians run wild. Obama’s infamous hot-mic statement to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to wait until after the 2012 election for action on missile defense is evidence of a kind of collusion, if not treason, against the United States.
Mueller’s investigation has never been about crime or even national security. It is the Washington swamp’s revenge.
The dubious probe, writes former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, “is a semblance of law-enforcement disguising the brute reality that Trump is being punished for winning the election and defying Obama policy.”
I believe the explanation is threefold: (1) to punish Flynn, and derivatively the incoming Trump administration, for opposing Obama’s anti-Israel legerdemain in the Security Council; (2) to promote the political narrative that Russia–Trump collusion had cheated Clinton out of her rightful election victory; and (3) to tie this collusion narrative to sanctions relief, thereby making it politically impossible for Trump to roll back Obama’s sanctions once he was sworn in — a boon for the Democrats’ collusion narrative since the sanctions stand as a reminder of Russia’s election meddling.
If that is the way the game is going to be played, if the purpose of a special-counsel “collusion” investigation is to humiliate the opposition party by exposing its wayward foreign-policy objectives and unsavory horse-trading, then let’s investigate Obama and Iran.
Flynn is the first major Trump administration official to cut a deal with Mueller.
In an itsy bitsy two-page criminal information filed Thursday, Nov. 30, with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III charged Flynn with making false statements Jan. 24 to FBI agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001.
Flynn was President Trump’s National Security Advisor at the time he made the relevant statements. He resigned on Feb. 13 this year after a mere 24 days in the post. For reasons only Flynn knows, on Jan. 24, his fifth day in the Trump White House, he made false representations to the FBI about his conduct on Dec. 29, 2016, and Dec. 22, 2016, when he was a member of then-President-elect Trump’s transition team.
Although Flynn did not accurately describe two conversations he had with the Russians in the performance of his duties as a Trump transition official, the conversations themselves with the Russians were not unlawful. Speaking with foreigners, even representatives of unfriendly powers, is not a crime.
In his resignation letter Feb. 13, Flynn wrote:
In the course of my duties as the incoming National Security Advisor, I held numerous phone calls with foreign counterparts, ministers, and ambassadors. These calls were to facilitate a smooth transition and begin to build the necessary relationships between the President, his advisors and foreign leaders. Such calls are standard practice in any transition of this magnitude.
Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.
President Trump himself weighed in Saturday on Twitter.
“I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI[,]” Trump tweeted Dec. 2 at 12:14 p.m. “He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”
A prominent legal expert was similarly unimpressed.
For Mueller, Flynn’s guilty plea is a “show of weakness,” Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said on “Fox and Friends” on the weekend.
The last thing a prosecutor wants to do is indict his primary witness for lying because it means the person is “not useful as a witness … has no credibility.” Because there is “nothing there,” that is, no scheme or conspiracy involving other White House officials, Mueller had to “finally come down and indict him for lying, which makes him a useless witness.”
It’s a show that they really have nothing on anybody above of Flynn and that Flynn made the terrible mistake of lying about something he could have told truth about. Because the two things he lied about were perfectly lawful and perfectly proper for somebody to do during the transition. And so, I think it really reflects a weakness, not a strength in Mueller’s prosecution.
Mueller may still be able to milk Flynn for other information, Dershowitz said. Flynn has “obviously sold himself to protect his own son, and he’s prepared not only to sing, but perhaps even to … exaggerate if he thinks that will get him a better deal from the prosecutor. So, if I’m a defense lawyer, I have no trouble destroying his credibility on the witness stand.”
Mueller is “going on the domino theory, one domino at the time,” Dershowitz explained.
You go for the lowest-hanging fruit. You indict people for lying to the FBI, failing to fill out the proper forms. These are forms of essentially political jaywalking, then you squeeze them and you hope that maybe they’ll give you information that would lead to somebody higher up. But in the end, it’s hope over reality. So, I would not say this is a day for celebrating for the prosecution in the Mueller office.
Michael Flynn’s guilty plea doesn’t help the Trump administration, but it’s no reason for senior White House officials to head out to the ledges outside their offices.
It’s about politics, and nothing else.