Michael Flynn has instructed his attorneys to end the information sharing agreement they had in place with Donald Trump’s attorneys, which legal experts agree can only mean that he’s in the process of negotiating a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Some have asked if Flynn might change his mind after Trump inevitably tries to pressure him behind the scenes. But I can tell you that, legally speaking, there’s no going back for Flynn once he gets into those negotiations.
I’m not an attorney, but what I’m about to explain is based on input I’ve received from various current and former attorneys and prosecutors. In order to cut a deal with a federal prosecutor, you first have to prove that you deserve a deal. This is called a “proffer” – which means that you sit down and spill your guts until the prosecutor is satisfied that you can provide enough evidence to nail someone else. If you then decide not to go through with the deal, you’re pretty much screwed.
What you say in a proffer session can’t be directly used as testimony against yourself. However, prosecutors basically can take what you’ve said, use it to investigate new leads, find the evidence on their own, and use that evidence to convict you (it’s more complicated, but this is sufficient for layman’s terms). So if you’ve gotten as far as your proffer session, which is Step One in negotiating a deal, you’re basically locked into making a deal. Otherwise, what you’ve blabbed about is probably going to end up getting you convicted anyway.
If Michael Flynn has gotten as far as his proffer session, and he almost certainly has, because it’s the very first step in the negotiation, then there’s realistically no going back. Even if Donald Trump did then convince Flynn not to go through with the deal, Mueller would already have what he needs on both Flynn and Trump.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report