Last night we learned that Paul Manafort recently sought a plea deal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which suggests that we might end up seeing such a deal soon enough. This comes after Michael Cohen cut a plea deal which didn’t officially include cooperation against Donald Trump, but obviously unofficially did, as evidenced by Cohen’s willingness to name Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator. Then there were the multiple immunity deals last week. Mueller is suddenly faced with a potential embarrassment of riches – so much so that his arguably most valuable cooperating witness has been all but forgotten.
It’s not Rick Gates, though his testimony during the Manafort trial was a reminder that he’s still in the fold. And it’s certainly not George Papadopoulos, who will be sentenced early next month. No, Robert Mueller’s important forgotten man is Michael Flynn. He cut his plea deal late last year, so long ago that it’s fallen entirely from the radar. That’s partly because whatever evidence and testimony he gave up, it hasn’t yet publicly come into play.
But we know Michael Flynn is still proving valuable to Robert Mueller, because when Flynn came up for sentencing last week, Mueller decided to push it back yet again. This means that whatever criminal cases Mueller is currently building against the biggest of Trump-Russia fish, Flynn is still playing an active role. The big thing to keep in mind here: of all of Trump’s people who have cut plea deals against him, Flynn is the only one who worked with Trump in the White House.
So even as we see the groundwork being laid for the likes of Cohen and Manafort to become cooperating witnesses, keep in mind that Robert Mueller already has a number of existing aces up his sleeve. In fact, the longer we go before hearing anything publicly from Michael Flynn, the more it’ll suggest that he’s a linchpin in the criminal case against Donald Trump.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report