Make no mistake: Michael Flynn’s plea deal against Donald Trump was the best possible outcome for us and Robert Mueller, and it was the worst possible outcome for Trump. If Mueller had been forced to arrest an uncooperative Flynn, it would have been a failure, because the entire point was to get him to flip. There is however, in the short term, a maddening aspect to Flynn’s deal. I suspect you share my pain on this.
Seeing Michael Flynn in handcuffs, after the things he did to this country, would have been cathartic – but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the short term impact that his arrest would have had in terms of moving the public forward on this scandal. All along, much of the public has been hearing “Trump committed treason with Russia” from one side and “Russia is fake news” from the other side, and they’ve been waiting to see which way things actually went.
The arrest of Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort six weeks ago was a big deal that convinced a lot of people of the “realness” of the Trump-Russia scandal. If Michael Flynn had been arrested on the full boat of charges he was facing, including conspiracy to commit kidnapping and all the other cartoon villain stuff he’s accused of, it would have set off pandemonium among the public. Trump’s National Security Adviser tried to kidnap a guy as part of the Trump-Russia scandal? How many heads would that have turned? Trump-Russia would have become something straight out of the O.J. trial.
Because Michael Flynn cut a deal instead, the general public wasn’t hit with the shock value of what would have been one of the most surreal arrests of all time. Those of us paying attention have figured out that his extraordinarily lenient deal means he turned over proof that Donald Trump and the other big fish are guilty. We know where this is going. Yet for the moment, a whole lot of people are still left wondering just how “real” this scandal is. For that, we’ll have to wait for the arrest of one of the bigger fish Flynn flipped on.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report