When Robert Mueller was first assigned as special counsel to investigate Russian influence in the 2016 election, it wasn’t necessarily bad for President Trump. When Paul Manafort and other former members of Team Trump were indicted, there was still a chance the President and his closest people would be insulated. Now that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and has apparently cut a deal with Mueller, we can finally say definitively that this is very bad for Trump.
Flynn will reportedly testify against the President, his family, and others close to him:
Michael Flynn will reportedly testify that President Trump instructed him to make contact with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, ABC News reported on Friday. “[Flynn] is prepared to testify…against President Trump, against members of the Trump family, and others in the White House,” Brian Ross reported. He added that Flynn’s testimony, as such, would “contradict all that President Trump has said up to this moment.” Flynn, Trump’s former national-security adviser, pleaded guilty Friday to charges that he misled the FBI during a January 2017 interview.
This is very bad for the President.
Whatever he has to say about the President and others, it is almost certainly extremely damaging considering two important things: his charges were light and his son wasn’t charged at all. That is a clear indicator that he cut a major deal with Mueller’s team. Anything short of the top would likely have not yielded such a slap on the wrist.
Going forward, the important question is who else Mueller can turn. When the first major piece tumbles in investigations like this, the dominoes usually start falling like clockwork. All it will take is one more major figure formerly or currently in the Trump administration to cut a deal. The damage from a single person’s testimony is easily mitigated. One more major figure close to Trump could be enough to take down an empire.
One question that must be asked: why didn’t Team Trump promise Flynn and his son a pardon? Trump’s loyalty to Flynn is what sparked this whole mess in the first place when Trump allegedly asked then-FBI Director James Comey to back off the Flynn investigation after he resigned. When the heat was on him from Mueller, why wasn’t he told he would be vindicated directly by the President if it came to that?
It’s enough to make one wonder if Team Trump didn’t expect Flynn to break because they didn’t think he had anything on them. Did the President miscalculate? Is he truly insulated from this by having enough distance between him and Flynn? Is Flynn lying (a question nobody’s asking for some reason)? If Mueller is able to turn at least one more person, we’ll probably have our answers to all of these questions.
I’ve had as much of grudge against Trump as anyone after he lied his way to disgrace my candidate, Senator Ted Cruz. However, I’m not ready to assume Flynn is the smoking gun against Trump because the deal doesn’t make sense. If Trump felt Flynn could take him down, certainly he would have made him a better deal than Mueller. It’s within his power to wipe away any crimes Flynn may have committed.
Then again, this could just be an egotistical President feeling overconfident about his influence over his former confidant. Either way, this is all very bad for the administration.