In a strange development, President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday to publicly encourage his former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, to seek immunity in exchange for cooperation with the FBI’s investigation into possible Russian interference in last year’s election.
It’s more than a little ironic that both Donald Trump and Michael Flynn have previously made remarks about the probable guilt of someone who asks for immunity before testifying or offering information to intelligence officials. Less than six months ago Flynn had the following to say at a Meet the Press event.
“When you are given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime.”
Trump made his remarks during a campaign rally in Wisconsin around the same time.
“The reason they get immunity is that they did something wrong. If they didn’t do anything wrong, they don’t think in terms of protection.”
Regardless of what Trump and Flynn have to say about the matter, a request for immunity does not necessarily signify guilt. Michael Flynn, who resigned from his post after allegations surfaced of repeated meetings between Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak, said that he was merely trying to avoid “unfair prosecution” in the future that could arise from further investigations. Relations between Vice President Mike Pence and Michael Flynn soured after it emerged that Flynn had lied to Pence about not having met with Kislyak.
While the White House has been scrambling to deflect attention away from the investigation and the content of the conversations between Kislyak and Flynn, President Trump seems much less perturbed by the prospect of Flynn’s information being revealed to the FBI.
In fact, Trump went as far as to openly encourage Flynn to seek immunity and provide testimony, proving consistency with his campaign rhetoric on those who seek indemnity. Perhaps this overt display of support for Flynn may just be a ploy to present a guiltless image, or perhaps Trump simply doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation and the potentially devastating effects it may have on his presidency.
Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2017
It’s not uncommon for Donald Trump to bring up the Democrats’ election loss as a way to dismiss criticisms or allegations leveled against him. His other famous rebuff is to label any damaging reports as “fake news.” There is a certain kind of magic in the way Trump can convince his supporters that the “alternative facts” he presents are in fact the truth. Friday’s tweet was undoubtedly another attempt to discredit the House Intelligence Committee and FBI investigations.
Michael Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, seemed to suggest that Flynn is only seeking immunity because the current political climate on The Hill is simmering with political pressure and calls for witch-hunts.
“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. General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should circumstances permit.”
Right now, the question on everyone’s lips is what the contents of the story are. We may never find out, as investigating officials expressed reluctance to begin negotiations with Michael Flynn about a deal until such a time as they have sufficient details about the quality and relevance of the story Flynn would like to tell.
The House Intelligence Committee may yet find a breakthrough in the testimony of Michael Flynn. If damning information is divulged, implicating Trump and any members of his team, we may see the President resign in an attempt to avoid impeachment for a seemingly more dignified exit from the Oval Office.
[Featured Image by John Lochner/AP Images]