You might be wondering why former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn pleaded guilty to such a relatively small charge of lying to the FBI given the possibilities.
Experts say that Flynn’s plea deal suggests Flynn has very good information with which to bargain with team Mueller on the Trump Russia probe. If Flynn’s information is that good, that would make it very bad news for President Trump and other senior Trump transition team players.
Experts Asha Rangappa, a former FBI Special Agent in the Counterintelligence Division and Alex Whiting, a former U.S. federal prosecutor, laid out the reasoning for this conclusion in an article with Kate Brannen published in Just Security on Friday.
“Most striking thing is that he is pleading to just one count of lying when evidence of so many other alleged crimes has been swirling around and some of these other crimes appear to be well-documented,” Whiting told Brannen in an email.
Normally, Brannen explained, the reward for cooperation would come during the sentencing phase instead of the criminal charges phase, but here we see what appears to be reduced charges.
While it’s possible that Flynn couldn’t make the charges stick or felt they didn’t justify criminal charges, Rangappa said it’s unlikely that’s what’s going on here.
“It’s hard for me to believe that if he retroactively registered for the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), he was getting money from Turkey, and plotting an abduction, there were not several other offenses for which there was enough evidence to charge him,” Rangappa wrote.
Instead, it’s more likely Flynn has very good information that put him in a strong bargaining position.
“I think that’s most likely what’s going on here, and that would be very bad news for Trump,” Whiting wrote.
“I think Flynn is giving up the goods, big time,” Rangappa agreed.
And worst of all for President Trump, Rangappa “also noted the date of Flynn’s call with Kislyak: Dec. 29. On Dec. 30, Trump tweeted, ‘Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!’
“This adds to the pattern that all these folks who had contacts with Russia were reporting back to Trump,” Rangappa concluded in an assessment that corresponds with the rocking revelation in an as of yet uncorroborated ABC report that Flynn will testify that President Trump himself was behind Flynn’s contact with Russians.
Seth Abramson concluded that Muller gave this kind of deal to Flynn because he has sufficient information to indict President Trump.
94/ Every attorney with experience in criminal law now presumes—and factors into their analyses—that Mueller has sufficient information to indict the POTUS. He wouldn't have given Flynn this sort of deal otherwise. All of us should be acting carefully, with that thought in mind.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) December 1, 2017
Very, very bad news for Donald Trump and senior officials in the Trump transition team and campaign.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.