There are four things to keep in mind right now: 1) The January 6th Committee has apparently had the memo about the Charles Flynn perjury allegation since last week. 2) The media apparently obtained the memo much more recently, and broke the news about it late last night. 3) Michael Flynn’s testimony deadline was today, with no indication that he was going to show. 4) Now the committee says Michael Flynn has decided to “engage” with them, and they’re giving him a brief deadline delay.
How do these pieces of information fit together? First question: how did the media get this memo? Probably from the committee itself, which already had it. That’s not a certainty. But when you want to figure out how the media got ahold of any given document, you always start with who already had the document, and whether they had motivation to make it public by leaking it.
So why would the committee leak the Charles Flynn memo the night before Michael Flynn’s testimony deadline? Probably to force Michael Flynn to consider the possibly of giving up others, in order to save his brother.
If Charles Flynn didn’t lie to the committee, he’s safe. But if he did lie as this memo alleges, then the committee can get him indicted for perjury, whether or not it can be proven that he broke any laws on 1/6. This kind of indictment could harm or end Charles Flynn’s military career, and it could force him to cut a cooperating plea deal.
The committee can also decide to let Charles off the hook for perjury, if Michael Flynn cooperates. Michael Flynn previously cooperated with investigators to protect his son. Will he cooperate now to protect his brother? Is that what’s going on? Is that what the 1/6 committee is trying to pull off right now?
Michael Flynn is unstable and can’t be trusted. But if he gives the committee anything usable against anyone in the short term, in exchange for his brother not being rung up for perjury, that would be a gift. The committee can always get Michael Flynn for contempt later, if and when he ceases cooperating.
For any of this to work, the committee would need proof that Charles Flynn lied to them. We don’t yet know what they do or don’t have, beyond a memo. But Politico says they’ve had the memo since last week. Maybe they’ve already had enough time to dig in and verify or refute it.
We should start to see answers, or at least clues, within days. If Michael Flynn’s “engagement” with the committee turns out not to be legitimate, they’ll quickly ring him up for contempt. If the committee doesn’t ring up Flynn in the coming days or weeks, it would suggest he really is cooperating for now on some level. So that’s what to watch for going forward.
Again, keep in mind that there’s no way the January 6th Committee can lose here. If it does have Charles Flynn nailed for perjury, it can refer him to the DOJ for prosecution at any time. And if Michael Flynn doesn’t cooperate, the committee can refer him to the DOJ for prosecution on contempt at any time. There’s no scenario where Michael Flynn pulls a rabbit out of a hat and gets away with giving the committee nothing and magically faces no consequences for it. Just ask Steve Bannon.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report