By Richard Ray:
I received several calls after news of former United States National Security Advisor Mike Flynn agreed to a plea deal under Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation into the Trump Administration’s possible collusion with Russia in meddling and influencing the 2016 US Presidential election.
My reaction to the news is that we are still way too early in this process to decipher the impact that this will eventually have on Trump, if any. Flynn is the first senior White House official to have been convicted of a crime under Mueller’s investigation. His guilty plea is to a single felony count of lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador.
In effect the plea raises more questions than it presently answers, one being whether the single count of lying is indicative of Flynn now cooperating with the Mueller investigation. The safe presumption is that he is now cooperating in some form. This assumption is bolstered by reports that this legal team has now ceased communication with the White House legal team.
Flynn’s plea conviction is not insignificant because he was a senior Trump official during the transition period after the election and the earliest part of Trump’s presidency. What is still unclear is what Flynn knows about Trump’s involvement with Russia and what if anything is being said to Mueller by Flynn. I think, far from proving anything conclusive at this point, the plea by Flynn is indicative that much more needs to come before anyone can make any direct connection between Trump and Russia colluding. What Flynn might be able to offer against Paul Manafort or Jared Kushner might be just as essential to any investigation against Trump directly.
Manafort was the campaign chair for Trump’s election. Any evidence that Flynn is able to supply against Manafort to further pressure him to testify against Trump would be just as if not more important than any testimony that Flynn could provide against Trump by itself. Perhaps not coincidentally, this week Mueller’s team changed the bail requirements on Manafort form an unsecured $10 million dollar bail to putting over $11 million dollars in real estate holdings from properties in Virginia, Bridgehampton, NY, NYC and Florida as secured assets against his bail. The real estate holdings were reportedly considered to comprise the majority of Manafort’s assets.
Flynn may indeed be a crucial piece to any collusion between Trump’s administration, but ultimately his plea is probably about putting pressure on someone else to possibly to get to Trump. I think that Manafort is a key player as a former campaign head and non-relative of Trump who may be one of the only others with unique access to Trump (other than Steve Bannon) who is not loyal through family relations (i.e. Jared Kushner).
The bottom line is that Flynn’s plea, while breaking news, has lead to more questions and speculation than answers. There is much more to come, but only time will tell how significant Flynn’s plea is by itself related to Trump being proven guilty of any offense.
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