President Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, has become the first senior White House official to cooperate in the recent investigations into the communications with Russia during the 2016 Presidential campaign. Flynn plead guilty on Friday to lying and making false statements to the FBI about his role in corroborating with Russia this past December. He has promised “full cooperation in the special counsel’s Russia investigation.” There has been a lot of conversation from both parties about this topic, so let’s break it down.
New details emerged Friday regarding the situation with Flynn and the Trump administration stating that a member of the Trump campaign asked Flynn to be a part of a small group of advisors who would be in charge of improving relations with Russia. Flynn had multiple discussions with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, as a part of Trump’s efforts to create foreign policy prior to entering office. Flynn claimed in the plea hearing yesterday that he was “directed by at least one very senior member of the presidential transition team” to discuss possible resolutions with the United Nations. President Trump’s lawyers are led to believe that the “very senior member” may have been Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.
Flynn is willing to cooperate with Mueller and is now the prosecution’s key witness. Trump’s administration said they were completely blindsided about the news Friday morning that Mr. Flynn would plead guilty to the charges against him. Further, this cooperation with Mueller could be perilous for many individuals in the current administration, but especially for Jared Kushner. Front and center are the details about Kushner proposing to set up back channels for the transition team to communicate with Russian officials. The recent details that have emerged certainly have the possibility to shape the public’s understanding of what Trump and his team may have or may have not done during this past election.
Former FBI director, James Comey, was directed to shut down the Russia investigation one day after Flynn was fired from the White House in February. Flynn is now saying he believes that directive came in order to keep the involvement of top officials from Trump’s team in discussions with Kislyak secret. Comey was fired a few months after – in May. Now, some believe that it could be for the same reason Flynn was fired: to keep details about relations with Russia under wraps.
So, here is the big question.
What does this mean for President Trump? Well, this new information has the potential to be a problem for Trump and his current administration, but that depends on what Flynn actually knows and if there was anything incriminating. Are the charges Flynn plead guilty to enough to incriminate Kushner, or anyone else? That is still to be seen. Court documents indicate there were more involved, but no names have been released thus far. If information comes forward that President Trump was in fact one of those individuals then then there could be grounds for impeachment. National security lawyer Steve Vladeck tweeted that “the story isn’t that Michael Flynn is pleading guilty. It’s what he is giving Mueller in exchange for such a minor charge….” “We may not know the answer to that for some time, but I have to think it’s substantial.” Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said that “Flynn’s plea is a nightmare for Donald Trump. Probably the tip of the prosecutorial iceberg.”