Last night multiple major news outlets confirmed that Michael Flynn is making moves to negotiate a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in what amounts to the worst case scenario for Donald Trump. Flynn will give up many of Trump’s Russia secrets, taking Trump down in the process. Rather than ranting about it this morning, Trump made a statement which – if you put it within the proper context – sure sounds like a threat against the safety of Flynn and his son.
Flynn is accused of having illegally been on the payroll of the government of Turkey, and of having participated in a conspiracy to kidnap a Turkish cleric in Pennsylvania. Here’s what Trump tweeted this morning, just hours after Flynn’s deal was revealed: “Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East. I will get it all done, but what a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!” There’s more to this than initially appears.
At first it sounded like Trump was merely calling up Erdogan in a panicked attempt at figuring out how to respond to Flynn’s decision to cut a deal. But the more I think about it, this sounds like something more. If this were just about Trump talking strategy with Erdogan, Trump and his handlers would have tried to keep the phone call secret, or at least as low-key as possible. Instead Trump promptly advertised on Twitter that the phone call had taken place, even though it meant making the entire thing look even more suspicious in the eyes of the public. That’s because the tweet about the Turkey phone call wasn’t intended for the general public. It was aimed at an audience of one.
This phone call, and in particular the tweet announcing it, were intended to send a message to Michael Flynn. But legally speaking, at this point there is nothing that Trump or Turkey can do to Flynn. It sure sounds like Trump is hinting to Flynn that Turkey’s lawless regime might put his safety at risk if he goes through with the deal. Keep in mind that Flynn is flipping to protect his son from criminal prosecution. Is this a threat against Flynn’s son’s safety? If that sounds like it might be a stretch, keep in mind that just a week ago, Trump bizarrely insisted “people will die” if the Trump-Russia investigation continues.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report