Donald Trump, Michael Flynn, and the pardon that never was

Michael Flynn’s attorneys have cut formally off communication with Donald Trump’s attorneys, and legal experts are all interpreting it as a sign that Flynn is now negotiating a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller (link). It means Flynn is going to give up everyone and everything in the Trump-Russia scandal. It also proves that even Trump’s own people don’t trust that Trump has the willingness and/or ability to pardon them.

If anyone outside of Donald Trump’s own family was going to get a pardon in the Trump-Russia scandal, it was Michael Flynn. Trump has consistently bent over backward to try to protect Flynn this year, either because he likes him or because he fears him. Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates in part to protect Flynn. Trump later pushed then-FBI Director James Comey to let Flynn off the legal hook. Trump broke the law to try to protect Flynn.

Yet once Michael Flynn finally found himself with only two options, to bank on a pardon from Trump, or to cut a deal with Mueller, Flynn has chosen the latter. Maybe Flynn has been informed that he’s facing state level charges that Trump can’t pardon. Maybe Flynn has figured out that if Trump tries to pardon his own co-conspirators, those pardons could be struck down by the courts. Or maybe Flynn just doesn’t trust Trump to do the right thing, because at no point in Trump’s life has he ever done the right thing.

If Michael Flynn isn’t willing to count on a pardon from Donald Trump, then no one outside his family is. Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Jeff Sessions, and everyone else wrapped up in the scandal might as well just cut deals now. The way things are going, even Trump’s own family members probably shouldn’t count on a pardon. This is all unraveling rather quickly.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report