Last week I posted about Friday’s edition of Don Lemon CNN Tonight, in which CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem discussed the possibility in a panel discussion that former national security adviser Mike Flynn has cut a deal with the FBI and is now informing on his old boss. CNN analyst: Sources say Mike Flynn may have turned on Trump and become a witness for the FBI.
Kayyem may have been a bit premature with her analysis, but the Wall Street Journal (pay firewall) confirmed on Thursday that Mike Flynn Offers to Testify in Exchange for Immunity: “Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, has told the Federal Bureau of Investigation and congressional officials investigating the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia that he is willing to be interviewed in exchange for a grant of immunity from prosecution, according to officials with knowledge of the matter.”
The Washington Post picks up the Journal’s reporting. Flynn offers to cooperate with congressional probe in exchange for immunity:
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn has offered to cooperate with congressional investigators in exchange for immunity from prosecution, a suggestion that has been met with initial skepticism, according to people familiar with the matter.
“General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit,’’ Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, said in a statement Thursday evening. “Out of respect for the committees, we will not comment right now on the details of discussions between counsel for General Flynn and the House and Senate intelligence committees, other than to confirm that those discussions have taken place. But it is important to acknowledge the circumstances in which those discussions are occurring.’’
The committees are both looking into whether any associates of Donald Trump may have coordinated with agents of the Russian government seeking to meddle in last year’s presidential election. The FBI is also investigating. The Trump administration has denied any such coordination.
The offer by Flynn’s lawyer was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Flynn’s overture seemed to have been aimed principally at the Senate committee, as Democrats on the House committee said they had not received word of an offer of testimony for immunity.
Officials said the idea of immunity for Flynn — who is considered a central figure in the probes because of his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States — was a “non-starter,’’ particularly at such an early stage of the investigations. A wide-ranging grant of immunity could protect Flynn from potential future charges from the Justice Department, but Congress has the power to grant only limited “testimonial” immunity, which means prosecutors cannot use witnesses’ testimony against them in any prosecution. Ultimately, it is Justice’s decision whether to grant immunity from prosecution for any underlying conduct that is discussed, or other matters that don’t come up in testimony.
Note: Congress should remember how it fucked-up prosecutions in the Iran-Contra scandal by granting testimonial immunity before congressional committees. Reagan’s Deputy National Security Advisor John Poindexter is a textbook example: he was convicted in April 1990 of multiple felonies as a result of his actions in the Iran–Contra affair, but his convictions were reversed on appeal in 1991. Another textbook example is Oliver North, no doubt the role model for the show that Michael Flynn wants to put on before Congress. Oliver North was convicted of three counts: accepting an illegal gratuity, aiding and abetting in the obstruction of a congressional inquiry, and ordering the destruction of documents through his secretary, Fawn Hall. North’s convictions were vacated, after the appeals court found that witnesses in his trial might have been impermissibly affected by his immunized congressional testimony.
The moral of the story: no congressional immunity. Let Michael Flynn take the Fifth. As for the FBI, it should focus on proffer letter immunity, the weakest form of immunity. How Immunity Works In Federal Criminal Cases.
Words that Michael Flynn now has to eat: Michael Flynn in 2016: Immunity ‘means you probably committed a crime’ with respect to the Hillary Clinton email probe. Flynn’s insane GOP Convention speech in which he made wild accusations of criminal behavior and led the buffoons in chants of “lock her up!” is karma coming back to bite him now. This guy suffers from a serious case of psychological projection.
On Friday, a tweet by President Trump appeared to support Flynn’s offer, saying his former security adviser “should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!” Trump’s strange new tweet on the Russia probe reveals his own weakness.
Wow, Trump is clueless about how much trouble he already is in for obstruction of a congressional inquiry, and obstruction of justice with the FBI and Justice Department investigations. His lawyer should be advising him to shut the fuck up!
Flynn’s attorney said his client, a decorated former general, was now the subject of “unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo.’’
The lawyer added: “No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution.’’
Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor and an assistant special counsel in the prosecution of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, said that the Senate committee apparently did not “want to screw up a possible prosecution.”
But, he added, “there may be things more important than getting a prosecution of Flynn.” Such as learning the extent of contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials. “That is a compelling and urgent need. A prosecution of Flynn could take several years. I wouldn’t want them to wait that long to find out what Flynn knows.”
Leave this to the Department of Justice and the FBI. Congress should stay the hell out of any immunity discussions.