Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn has reportedly told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he is willing to testify in their probe regarding Russian involvement in President Trump’s 2016 campaign in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Flynn was forced to resign from Trump’s cabinet in February after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about interactions he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
President Trump has been plagued by accusations of Russian collusion in his campaign efforts since before taking office. Many saw Flynn’s resignation as a sign that there may indeed have been an inappropriate relationship between members of Trump’s campaign and top Russian officials responsible for a multi-faceted effort intended to discredit Trump’s opponent, former Secretary of State and early favorite to win the election, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The investigation into President Trump’s relationship with the Russian government has continued, with FBI Director James Comey confirming before Congress on March 21st that the Bureau is investigating the possibility of any such ties.
Unidentified sources first told the Wall Street Journal that Flynn had offered to interview with the FBI and Intelligence Committee in exchange for an order of immunity that could prevent him from being prosecuted for any potential violations of the law. Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, confirmed on Thursday night that Flynn had addressed the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, adding, “General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it.”
Although the request for immunity does seem damning for Trump, or at least for Flynn himself, his attorney attempted to dispel such accusations: “No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch hunt environment without assurance against unfair prosecution.”
He also stated that neither he, nor Flynn, would address questions from the media prior to his testimony, “out of respect” for the twin committee investigations. He also accused the media of being “awash with unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo,” in clear defense of any potential attacks against his client.
Flynn himself, however, may have unknowingly shown his hand by making the request. In a September episode of “Meet the Press,” Flynn told Chuck Todd, “When you are given immunity that means you’ve probably committed a crime,” when discussing the possibility of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s aids.
Since his resignation, reports have surfaced of Flynn receiving large sums of money from organizations with Russian ties, including a $45,000 payment from RT at the tenth anniversary gala for their television network. At the time, he was already serving as a Trump aid. RT, which is a Kremlin owned media outlet, is widely considered to be the source of Russian propaganda directed toward western viewers.
Other reports of Flynn working as a foreign agent representing the interests of Turkey prior to coming onto Trump’s team have further exacerbated the situation for the former Lieutenant General.
Until Flynn actually provides testimony, little can be extrapolated from Flynn’s request for immunity. It may indeed be an act of defensive innocence, as his attorney attempts to ensure his client is protected from any potential blowback as a result of speaking out against the President or his opponents on Capitol hill. Likewise, there is a distinct possibility that Flynn’s story could blow the doors open on the continuing investigation into President Trump’s ties to Moscow.
Only time will tell.
Editorial cartoon courtesy of Robert L. Lang
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