Cable news owes a debt of gratitude to old media today. The networks jumped on a Wall Street Journal report that President Donald Trump’s ousted national security adviser Mike Flynn has told the FBI and the House and Senate intel committees that he would be willing to be interviewed about potential ties to Russia in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
So far, he has no takers, the publication reported, citing anonymous officials “with knowledge of the matter.” Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, declined to comment on the new report.
The retired lieutenant general became a Trump campaign adviser, being one of the real estate magnate-turned-reality TV star’s earliest supporters. For his loyalty, Flynn got to deliver an address at the RNC, in which he famously led that “Lock Her Up” chant in the arena.
“Lock her up, that’s right!” Flynn raved during his speech. “Damn right, exactly right. … And you know why we’re saying that? We’re saying that because, if I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth of what [Dem nominee Hillary Clinton] did, I would be in jail today!”
A few months later, in February, Flynn handed in his resignation after just 24 days as White House national security adviser, after a report surfaced he had mislead Vice President Mike Pence and others about his conversation with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Flynn’s exit came shortly after the Washington Post reported former acting Attorney General Sally Yates had spoken to the White House a month ago over concerns about Flynn. In the meeting, Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel said Flynn appeared to have misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador, and they warned that Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail. The White House later fired Yates after she instructed the DOJ not to defend Trump’s travel ban.
Flynn told Vice President-elect Mike Pence, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia over its interference in the 2016 presidential election in his communication with the Russian ambassador.
Flynn in a statement explained that “because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President-Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador.”
Flynn’s undoing was set in motion when Russian ruler Vladimir Putin said Russia would not retaliate for sanctions Obama’s administration imposed in December. That head-scratcher set intelligence analysts searching for an explanation.
“The search turned up [Ambassador Sergey] Kislyak’s communications, which the FBI routinely monitors, and the phone call in question with Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general with years of intelligence experience,” WaPo reported.
From that call and subsequent intercepts, FBI agents wrote a secret report summarizing Flynn’s discussions with Kislyak. Yates considered Flynn’s comments in the intercepted call to be “potentially illegal,” the paper reported.
Since then, documents obtained by a congressional oversight committee suggest Flynn also was paid tens of thousands of dollars by three Russian companies, including the state-sponsored network RT, for speeches he made shortly before he became a formal adviser to Trump’s campaign.
Democratic lawmakers have requested a copy of the security-clearance form that Flynn was required to file before joining Trump in the White House, to see if he disclosed sources of foreign income, WSJ reports, maybe explaining the whole I’ll-talk-for-immunity thing.
The Defense Department has been asked to investigate whether Flynn, as a retired Army general, violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by accepting money from RT.