Former National Security Adviser Flynn Guilty of Felony
Although cautioned against it by Obama, President Donald J. Trump appointed Flynn National Security Adviser and he began serving on January 20, 2017, when Trump took office. Flynn soon resigned after media reports surfaced that he had communicated with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and lied to Vice President Mike Pence about it.
Flynn worked with Trump in 2015, first meeting with the then-candidate in New York in August. In December of the same year, Flynn traveled to Moscow to attend a dinner celebrating the tenth anniversary of RT (formerly Russia Today), a news network funded by the Kremlin. While there, he sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin and, according to an NBC report, was paid $45,000 to speak at the event. Trump considered choosing Flynn to be his running mate but ultimately went with Pence. Nevertheless, Flynn spoke at the Republican National Convention where he led a chant focusing on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, saying “Lock her up!”
In December, after evidence pointed to Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential Election, the Obama administration announced sanctions against Russia. Flynn spoke again with Ambassador Kislyak and said that the sanctions could be relaxed when Trump took office. The call was monitored as part of standard surveillance of foreign diplomats. When Pence discussed the issue with Flynn, Flynn denied talking about sanctions.
On October 20, 2017, former Trump campaign manager Paul J. Manafort Jr., along with Manafort’s associate, Richard W. Gates III, were arrested as part of the Mueller probe (see “Trump Associates in Legal Trouble: Paul Manafort Indicted, George Papadopoulos Guilty”). Less than a week later, NBC News reported that Mueller had enough evidence to bring charges against Flynn. By November 23, Flynn’s lawyers had terminated their working agreement with Trump’s lawyers, which indicated Flynn may be cooperating with Mueller in hopes of reaching a plea deal. Days later, Mueller pleaded guilty.
Flynn’s cooperation, coupled with known actions by the president, signal Mueller may be investigating possible obstruction by Trump. Trump had told the Russian foreign minister that he eased pressure on himself regarding the Russia investigation by firing FBI Director James Comey. Further, President Trump pressured key Republicans in the Senate to end related investigations being conducted by several committees. These actions concerned Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina so much that he chose to speak about them openly.
It has already been made clear that Russia interfered with the most recent presidential election. Now, we are moving closer to answering the question, “Was there collusion by the president or other high-ranking officials?” If so, the scheme will prove to be a house of cards and Mueller a strong wind.