Editorials

Fasten your seatbelts, Flynn is cooperating with Mueller in the Russia probe

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Michael Flynn on Friday pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in its Russian probe.
Michael Flynn on Friday pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in its Russian probe. Getty Images

Karma kicked in with a vengeance.

Michael Flynn, briefly President Trump’s national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. And, Flynn is going to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller III’s investigation into this administration’s ties to Russia.

The stunning plea sent stocks plunging, caught the White House off guard, and should shake Americans of all political leanings to the very core. Not a year into Trump’s tenure, his minions, very possibly with his go-ahead, were willing to lay waste to American democracy, consorting with a foreign state to undercut American interests in favor of their own.

Flynn, who arrogantly peacocked on the stage and led delegates at last year’s Republican National Convention in the anti-Hillary Clinton chant, “Lock her up” still has other serious charges hanging over his head. Suddenly, hard time is a clear and present threat, and he’s decided to play nice with Mueller. Flynn’s a liar, but he’s no dummy.

The Obama administration tried its darnedest to dissuade then President-elect Trump from bringing Flynn into his inner circle. Flynn is trouble, Trump was advised. Previous contacts with the Russians made him vulnerable to blackmail. But Trump, always bullish on Trump, installed him as national security adviser. The president is about to find out just how much trouble Flynn really is.

On Friday, Flynn admitted that he had asked then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to not make a big fuss over sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed on his country. After all, Trump, not yet commander in chief in December 2016, was about to become the anti-Obama and reverse many of the previous administration’s policy initiatives, whether there was merit or not. The United States could be a more compliant dance partner.

Flynn also is admitting that he asked Kislyak to stall a resolution in the U.N. Security Council that condemned Israel’s settlement policy, one the Obama administration was going to let pass. Flynn wanted the vote to wait until President Obama left office. Again, making foreign policy before legally authorized.

The magnitude of Flynn’s admissions and their repercussions cannot be overstated. He has made clear that the not-yet-Trump administration was deep into meddling with foreign policy before Inauguration Day. And the fact that Flynn is cooperating in Mueller’s investigation — one of several that are under way — no doubt has rattled the Oval Office. Saturday, Trump’s legal counsel tweeted that Trump fired Flynn in February because he lied to the FBI. This, on behalf of a president who has worked to make the investigation go away.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s train wreck of a senior adviser, and son-in-law, now has a target on his back too. Flynn attended a meeting at Trump Tower last December, where Kushner is said to have suggested to Kislyak that the transition team create a back channel to reach out to Moscow. It has also been alleged that Kushner ordered Flynn to contact Russia. Flynn, no doubt, will clarify.

Of course, the president himself could be the biggest target of all. And though court documents show no direct evidence of collusion with Russia, Mueller’s probe is looking at whether Trump’s firings of James Comey, former head of the FBI, or of Flynn, add up to obstruction of justice.

Americans will have to steel themselves against the possibility that Mueller will unearth evidence that Trump, himself, commanded collusion with the Russians.

Lock her up, eh?

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