Here’s the thing about Donald Trump: he’ll throw anyone under the bus. Moments after his campaign chairman Paul Manafort was arrested this morning, Trump dismissively tweeted that Manafort was arrested for crimes that took place before he joined the campaign. When Trump announced last month that he would be helping his associates with Trump-Russia legal fees, he made clear that none of the money would be going to his loyal former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Now we may know why.
Manafort was arrested this morning on a dozen different charges. One of them is “Conspiracy against the United States” – which is every bit as ugly as it sounds. He was also charged with failure to register as a foreign agent. That’s the exact same crime Michael Flynn admitted to when he retroactively registered as a foreign agent after he’d gotten caught. We know Special Counsel Robert Mueller has had a grand jury against Flynn for some time in Virginia. Mueller is intentionally making an example of Manafort, making sure his arrest is plastered all over the TV news in the most humiliating way possible. So where is Flynn’s big spectacle of an arrest? Why isn’t he being made an example of as well?
It’s entirely possible that Michael Flynn will be arrested before the day is over, as the dual arrests of Manafort and Rick Gates – along with today’s reveal of the George Papadopoulos plea deal – have made clear that Mueller is going all-in today. But even if Flynn does quietly get arrested today, he’ll have been spared the humiliation of having been the prominent first arrest out of the gate. There’s really only one reason for Mueller to give Flynn that kind of courtesy.
If Michael Flynn has cut a deal to flip on Donald Trump, he’ll still be indicted, charged, arrested, and required to plead guilty, as part of the carrying out of that deal. It’s notable that on this day, one of Donald Trump’s two key foreign agents got popped before the cameras for all to see, while the other one seems to be getting the kid gloves. Throw in Trump’s decision not to help Flynn with his legal fees, and it sounds like even the ever-oblivious Trump knows Flynn has cut a deal against him. Why would the ever-defiant Flynn cut a deal? Simple: to keep his son Michael Flynn Jr out of prison.
Keep in mind that Robert Mueller arrested Trump adviser George Papadopoulos months ago, and formally cut a deal with him weeks ago, and none of us are learning about it until today (link). So it’s entirely possible that Michael Flynn has already secretly cut a deal as well. For that matter it’s possible Flynn already surrendered himself awhile ago – which would also explain why he wasn’t popped this morning. Stay tuned.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report