Yesterday, Michael Flynn once again refused a request from Congress to testify about his role in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. This was not entirely surprising – he’s invoked the Fifth Amendment before – but it had a sense of finality about it. I wrote last night that this opened the door for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to drop a house on him. Sure enough, the House Democrats just handed Mueller what he needs.
Congressmen Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel have sent Robert Mueller evidence that Michael Flynn secretly tried to broker a $100 billion deal between Russia and Saudi Arabia, according to CNN (link). Newsweek first alleged the secret deal this summer (link), but now Congress has gathered enough evidence to prove that Flynn broke the law in the process. This evidence now hands Mueller a loaded weapon to use again Flynn, and he’ll do so in aggressive fashion.
As I wrote last night, don’t be shocked if Mueller has the FBI bust through Michael Flynn’s door, as he did to Paul Manafort, who wasn’t half this uncooperative. At this point Flynn is all but daring Mueller to have him arrested, suggesting that either he’s spitefully willing to go down with the ship, or he’s counting on a pardon from Donald Trump. So this may come down to Mueller’s ability to hit Flynn for his crimes in a way that Trump can’t pardon him.
There are two approaches to that. The first would be for Mueller to bring state level charges against Flynn, which can’t be pardoned. It’s been widely reported that Mueller is taking this approach with Manafort, who lives in New York, and has allegedly violated numerous state laws with his international financial dealings. Mueller would need to find relevant state level charges against Flynn – or he could name Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator, which may legally prevent Trump from being able to pardon Flynn at all. Stay tuned.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report