Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has offered to be interviewed in the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia in exchange for immunity, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
In a statement issued after that report, Flynn’s lawyer tweeted the the retired lieutenant general “has a story to tell, and he very much needs to tell it.”
Flynn resigned after questions arose about his communications with the Russian ambassador before Donald Trump’s inauguration; the president broke with Flynn because he believed Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about those conversations.
Donald Trump tweeted on March 31 that Flynn should seek immunity:
The potential of a Flynn immunity offer raises the stakes for the Trump administration and has a lot of people wondering what Flynn has to say.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Wall Street Journal Broke the Story That Flynn Will Testify for Immunity
The Wall Street Journal broke the story, based on anonymous sources, on March 30.
“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,” the newspaper reported.
NBC News reported that it had confirmed the story. However, The New York Times reported that a “congressional official said investigators were unwilling to broker a deal with Mr. Flynn… until they are further along in their inquiries and they better understand what information Mr. Flynn might offer as part of a deal.”
The New York Times reported that some experts cautioned against reading too much into the immunity question, saying it might just be good lawyering; Justice can’t stop an immunity deal, but Congress usually consults with prosecutors first, according to The Times.
2. Flynn’s Lawyer Says ‘Discussions Have Taken Place’
After the report in The Wall Street Journal, Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, released a statement on Twitter that confirmed “discussions have taken place” although it doesn’t specifically use the word immunity.
“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 letter then lists Flynn’s accomplishments, calling him a “highly decorated 33-year veteran of the U.S. Army. He devoted most of his life to serving his country, spending many years away from his family fighting this nation’s battles around the world.”
3. Flynn’s Lawyer Saved His Harshest Criticism for the Media & Flynn Previously Said a Grant of Immunity Is an Indication a Crime Was Committed
According to NBC, in September, Flynn told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, “When you are given immunity that means you’ve probably committed a crime.” NBC reported that Flynn was talking about Hillary Clinton when he made that remark. Watch:
The Kelner letter doesn’t mention Trump. Rather, it excoriates the media for peddling “unfounded allegations” of treason against Flynn.
The letter said “the media are awash with unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo directed against” Flynn.
“He is now the target of unsubstantiated public demands by Members of Congress and other political critics that he be criminally investigated. 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.”
4. Flynn Acknowledged Not Fully Briefing Pence on His Conversations With the Russian Ambassador
Flynn served as Trump’s national security adviser for only 24 days when he became ensnared in controversy over the nature of conversations he had with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, after the election but before Trump took the oath of office.
Flynn spoke with the Russian ambassador about sanctions against Russia shortly before Trump took office, contrary to past denials, The Washington Post reported shortly before Flynn resigned.
The New York Times ran a similar report, saying Flynn spoke with Kislyak about sanctions and cooperation between the two countries in the month before Trump was inaugurated and while Barack Obama was still in the White House. The newspaper quoted unnamed officials as saying the conversations were “inappropriate” and indicated there were transcripts because the government engages in eavesdropping.
National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say
The communications occurred before the Trump administration took office, say current and former officials.
5. Questions About Russia Have Continued to Swirl Around the Trump Administration
In March, the FBI’s James Comey confirmed the Bureau is investigating Trump’s campaign for links to the Russian government.
“I’ve been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” Comey said in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, The Atlantic reported. “That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
Trump has attempted to throw attention toward Bill and Hillary Clinton and Russia – specifically a supposed uranium deal.
Trump, under repeated fire for his own campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, wrote on March 27, “Why isn’t the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech….” You can read more about that allegation here:
A Clinton Uranium deal in Russia? That’s what Donald Trump is saying of Hillary and Bill Clinton. But is it true?