The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Of The Flynn Plea

images-2Below is my column on the Flynn plea agreement and its potential significance to the Russian investigation.  One development is that President Donald Trump is now denying that he ever told Director James Comey to let Flynn go.  This follows a highly damaging tweet that a Trump lawyer now says was his sloppy mistake. It is another tweet gone awry for the Trump White House.

 

Here is the column:

440px-Michael_T_FlynnThe plea agreement of Michael Flynn, the former White House national security adviser, is a case of the the good, the bad and the ugly for the Trump administration. It is an undeniably significant, though not unexpected, development in the Russia investigation. Flynn was always the most exposed of the high-ranking Trump officials and he lacked a clear defense on some of the allegations regarding his work as a foreign agent. In the famous Western “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” Clint Eastwood’s character Blondie explained the difference between a man with a defense and no defense: “You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend, those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” Flynn had to dig for a plea but the question is whether he presents a clear and present danger to the Trump inner circle. That is far less clear.

The good

440px-Director_Robert_S._Mueller-_III-1The coverage of the plea was immediately breathless and a bit jubilant. New York defense attorney Gerald Lefcourt announced, “It’s the beginning of the end.” CNN’s legal analyst Susan Hennessey called the charges the “slam dunk” that everyone is looking for. If so, the Russian investigation has experienced a serious downgrading. This investigation began with an allegation of criminal acts of collusion with the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election. This is a single count of making a false statement not a count of conspiracy or computer hacking or bribery connected to the Russians.

 

For Flynn, the one count of perjury was a good deal given his failure to register as a foreign agent in working for Turkey and assorted allegations of false or misleading statements. Moreover, Mueller’s people had Flynn’s son, Michael Jr., who served as his chief of staff, as leverage against him. However, for the White House, this may also have a good aspect. This is a relatively confined allegation that (like former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s alleged crimes) is centered on the actions of Flynn, not the president or his family. Washington insiders are often nailed not for the underlying scandal but their response to it.

Flynn could well offer damaging information against higher figures, from Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to the president himself. However, there is nothing in this indictment that offers serious support for the allegation of collusion with the Russians. Flynn lied on four occasions about conversations related to national security issues related to both Russia and Israel, including a conversation with then Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a conversation with the FBI. The indictment indicates that Flynn discussed sanctions with Kislyak, a fact that not only contradicts his statement to the FBI but to Vice President Mike Pence. However, the White House can note that Flynn also misrepresented the meeting to the vice president and the Trump administration.

Moreover, the interest of Kislyak in determining the position of the new administration on sanctions is not unheard of in Washington, or necessarily untoward to raise with one of the incoming national security advisers. Ambassadors are supposed to seek changes in policies and often seek to influence officials in the early stages of administrations before policies are established. Flynn’s suggestion that the Russians wait as the Trump administration unfolded its new policies is a fairly standard response of an incoming official.

Additionally, the false statements concern the discussion of an upcoming United Nations Security Council vote on whether to condemn Israel’s building of settlements, a matter entirely unrelated to the Russian investigation and a meeting reportedly prompted by requests from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Finally, the White House will point out that Flynn resigned Feb. 13 after being confronted over his misleading statements. He lasted only 24 days before being shown the door by the Trump administration.

The bad

The bad in this plea is equally obvious. While the indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Manafort was comfortably removed from either the campaign or the White House, this indictment involves a high-ranking Trump aide and concerns the Russian investigation. Flynn puts the special counsel’s investigation right next to the president in terms of a secured criminal plea. The ugliest element is the timing. The lie told by Flynn occurred on Jan. 24, four days after the start of the Trump administration. This was not some casual conversation. Flynn clearly knew the risks of lying in an unfolding scandal over Russian contacts.

It is also bad news to have a high-ranking former aide effectively under the control of the special counsel. Plea deals usually involve the waiver of other possible charges in exchange for cooperation. Flynn is a “matinee” defendant. There is little reason for prosecutors to cut a deal unless they believe that the case would be hard to prove or, more likely, the defendant has deliverables to offer the prosecution.

The ugly

440px-Comey-FBI-PortraitThe ugly context of the Flynn plea is also the direct work of President Trump himself. It is doubtful that there would have been any special counsel investigation had Trump not fired former FBI Director James Comey when he did. Moreover, the investigation has been fueled by Trump’s ill-considered and inappropriate statement to Comey that “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.” The pressure on Comey resulted in his creating the now famous memos sitting in Robert Mueller’s office. To make matters worse, Trump pressured cabinet members and, as reported this week, ranking members of Congress to force an end to the Russian investigation.

Trump made the situation far worse for Flynn and himself with these overtures. He created the very narrative to be used against him in the event of a plea of this kind. It is now fair game for people to ask if Flynn lied to cover up more than an awkward meeting and whether Trump’s unprecedented efforts on Flynn’s behalf reflect deeper concerns over information in Flynn’s possession.

images-3In the end, these are always sad moments. While many enjoy watching public figures fall from great heights, it is an ignoble and painful moment for a man who achieved much in the public interest. To paraphrase what Clint Eastwood’s Blondie said in the film, that is the nature of scandals and war alike, in which “so many men [are] wasted so badly.”

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

168 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Of The Flynn Plea”

  1. By Charles Krauthammer

    I do not understand how living in a country with its democracy established over 200 years ago, and now, for the first time in history, suddenly we have one of our former presidents set up a group called “Organizing for Action” (OFA).
    OFA is 30,000+ strong and working to disrupt everything that our current president’s administration is trying to do. This organization goes against our Democracy, and it is an operation that will destroy our way of governing. It goes against our Constitution, our laws, and the processes established over 200 years ago. If it is allowed to proceed then we will be living in chaos very much like third world countries are run. What good is it to have an established government if it is not going to be respected and allowed to follow our laws?

    If you had an army some 30,000 strong and a court system stacked over the decades with judges who would allow you to break the laws, how much damage could you do to a country? We are about to find out in America!

    Our ex-president said he was going to stay involved through community organizing and speak out on the issues and that appears to be one post-administration promise he intends to keep. He has moved many of his administration’s top dogs over to Organizing for Action.

    OFA is behind the strategic and tactical implementation of the resistance to the Trump Administration that we are seeing across America, and politically active courts are providing the leverage for this revolution.

    OFA is dedicated to organizing communities for “progressive” change. Its issues are gun control, socialist healthcare, abortion, sexual equality, climate change, and of course, immigration reform.

    OFA members were propped up by the ex-president’s message from the shadows: “Organizing is the building block of everything great we have accomplished Organizers around the country are fighting for change in their communities and OFA is one of the groups on the front lines. Commit to this work in 2017 and beyond.”

    OFA’s website says it obtained its “digital” assets from the ex-president’s re-election effort and that he inspired the movement. In short, it is the shadow government organization aimed at resisting and tearing down the Constitutional Republic we know as AMERICA.

    Paul Sperry, writing for the New York Post, says, “The OFA will fight President Donald Trump at every turn of his presidency and the ex-president will command them from a bunker less than two miles from the White House.”

    Sperry writes that, “The ex-president is setting up a shadow government to sabotage the Trump administration through a network of non-profits led by OFA, which is growing its war chest (more than $40 million) and has some 250 offices nationwide. The OFA IRS filings, according to Sperry, indicate that the OFA has 32,525 (and growing) volunteers nationwide. The ex-president and his wife will oversee the operation from their home/ office in Washington DC.

    Think about how this works.. For example: Trump issues an immigration executive order; the OFA signals for protests and statements from pro-immigrant groups; the ACLU lawyers file lawsuits in jurisdictions where activist judges obstruct the laws; volunteers are called to protest at airports and Congressional town hall meetings; the leftist media springs to action in support of these activities; the twitter sphere lights up with social media; and violence follows. All of this happens from the ex-president’s signal that he is heartened by the protests.

    If Barack Obama did not do enough to destroy this country in the 8 years he was in office, it appears his future plans are to destroy the foundation on which this country has operated on for the last 241 years.

    If this does not scare you, then we are in worse trouble than you know.

    So, do your part. You have read it, so at least pass this on so others will know what we are up against. We are losing our country and we are so compliant. We are becoming a “PERFECT TARGET” for our enemy!

    Charles Krauthammer

      1. I don’t necessarily disagree with its content, but it isn’t what appears to be:

        James,
        Agreed, and I know it wasn’t written by Krauthammer. When I did the fact check on it the following is what I found. I was curious to know how many would try to discredit the post based merely on citing the wrong author. The usual suspects have not disappointed.

        Monday, February 13, 2017
        If you had an army some 30,000 strong and a court system stacked over the decades with judges who would allow you to break the laws, how much damage could you do to a country? We are about to find out in America. The ex-“president” said he was going to stay involved through community organizing and speak out on the issues, and that appears to be one post-administration promise he intends to keep. He has moved many of his administration’s top dogs over to an organization called Organizing for Action (OFA). OFA is behind the strategic and tactical implementation of the Marxist resistance we are seeing across America, and politically active courts are providing the leverage for this revolution.

        OFA is dedicated to organizing communities for progressive change, meaning Marxist revolution. Issues are gun control, socialist healthcare, abortion, sexual equality, climate change, and of course, immigration reform. OFA members were propped up by the ex-“president’s” message from the shadows: “Organizing is the building block of everything great we’ve accomplished. Organizers around the country are fighting for change in their communities-and OFA is one of the groups on the front lines…Commit to this work in 2016 and beyond.” OFA’s website says it obtained its “digital” assets from the ex-“president’s” re-election effort and that he inspired the movement. In short, it’s the shadow government organization aimed at resisting and tearing down the Constitutional Republic, picking up where Communist Party America leaves off.

        Paul Sperry, writing for the New York Post, says OFA is an army of agitators 30,000 strong who will fight President Donald Trump at every turn of his presidency and the ex-“president” “will command them from a bunker less than two miles from the White House.” Sperry writes that the ex-“president” is setting up a shadow government to sabotage the incoming administration through a network of leftist nonprofits led by OFA, which is growing its war chest (more than $40 million) and has some 250 offices nationwide. OFA IRS filings, according to Sperry, indicate OFA has 32,525 volunteers nationwide. The ex-“president” and his wife will oversee the operation from their foundation office near the White House.

        Think about how this works-Trump issues an immigration executive order; OFA signals for protests and statements from Islamic and pro-immigrant leftist groups; ACLU lawyers file lawsuits in jurisdictions where activist judges obstruct the laws; volunteers are called to protest at airports and Congressional town hall meetings; the leftist media springs to action; the twittersphere lights up with revolutionary social media; violence follows-all emanating from the ex-“president’s” signal that he is heartened by the protests. Speaking of the end times, the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1-3, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be…without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.” Indeed, perilous times are ahead for us and our nation.
        Have a Blessed and Powerful Day!
        Bill Wilson
        http://www.dailyjot.com

        1. “Fake News Olly” or is it James O’Keefe, only your programmer knows for sure. I love how when called out, it becomes an ingenuis plan to ferret out those who respond tribally. Smooth move, X-lax.

          1. 🙂 And you haven’t disappointed. Of course you still haven’t denied OFA for what it is.

            More popcorn please.

            1. Don’t feel badly, Oily. A well-worn letter about leadership, falsely attributed to Lee Iaccoca made the rounds as an attack on Obama in 2007.
              FYI, the U.S. population experiences wear-out quickly (probably a function of a surplus new products). When will you retire the what about…ism messaging? Any hints about the next tactic?

    1. First, Olly, you need to stop watching Fox News, right now, today. They have an agenda and are poisoning your mind. They obsess over Barak Obama, HRC and Democrats. Their hatred is palpable. Their agenda is to ignore all of Chump’s failures, the evidence of his unfitness for office, his ethical lapses, racism, misogyny and ignoramus tweets and to pivot when these stories come to light to say something negative about HRC, Obama or Democrats. To clear your palate, why not watch Rachel Maddow or Chris Matthews tonight?

      Secondly, Chump and the Republicans are on a mission to destroy everything President Obama did, and to pay back their wealthy donors with tax breaks. Period. That’s their mission. They literally stand for nothing else. They have no other agenda. So, while you rail about the injustice of those outside government challenging Chump, that’s exactly what the Republicans and Chump are doing now. Rolling back financial protections enacted as a result of the financial crisis, rolling back environmental protections, rolling back educational standards, rolling back protections for debtors, taking away basic health care for millions, all because these things were enacted when Obama was President. How, exactly, did President Obama “destroy” this country, anyway? I’d like specific examples.

      BTW: you should pay attention to opinion polls. Consistently, the vast majority of Americans do not approve of Chump, they think he’s unfit for office and should go away. Fox News and its agenda express the extreme minority of American opinion.

      1. They have an agenda and are poisoning your mind.

        Really??? As if the other media news outlets do not? Certainly you were born yesterday. It wasn’t that long ago that your “palette cleaners” Maddow et al announced with 99% certainly Clinton would win the election, that it wouldn’t even be close.

        Yes, we’ll hope someone destroys most of what Obama, and the left’s new bestie, Bush did. Obama offered no financial protections, where any banks prosecuted for their criminal activities? Name one. How about doubling the deficit that previously took about 232 years to rack up? This is a real world problem (unless of course, you listen to Paul Krugman, whose track record speaks for itself). If interest rates can’t be held down, the service on that will be massive–goodbye free Democrat stuff (and republicrat big programs…) Rolling back educational standards? Certainly you missed your medication today. Common core is a disaster in the BEST sense of the word. Education has been on a slide, especially the last eight years. Read about Baltimore. Taking away healthcare? How about calling it what it is, an extra-constitutional executive order that should not have seen the light of day. Maybe if Obamacare is not completely removed, the foundation of this overreach may require you to surrender all your savings, since it is now requiring AND directing commerce.

        How exactly did Obama destroy this country? One pertinent example. Following in the steps of your best bud Bush and the reckless militarism, the destruction of Libya and the resulting open air slave trade that is occurring there now is being manifested in a luantic on the other side of the world. If you are a despot, and you see countries give up their armaments to agree to a deal, only to get sodomized by roving neo-nazis outside your own capital, that definitely gives a strong reason to find a big deterrent. Need I go on? Since you appear not to comprehend any of these arguments, I would guess not. You might spend a half hour reading and reflecting on the Constitution and see if it really adds up to your perceptions.

        By the way, I do not watch Fox news, or any other mainstream news outlet.

      2. How, exactly, did President Obama “destroy” this country, anyway? I’d like specific examples.

        LOL! That would be a waste of time. We have different worldviews. If you want to provide specific examples of how President Obama respected the rule of law and separation of powers, then bring it.

        1. Ahh…the classic “I’m rubber you’re glue” retort that characterizes so many good arguments…

    1. I hate when intelligent people use thuglicans losers to bolster our side, Frum is not your friend. Thuglican operative working a back story in case it is needed, just like Schmidt, Wilson, etc al.

      1. You.are essentially right but he is a good writer and has been on to Trump from the beginning. People can be right on some things and wrong on others.

  2. While I still find the very people that yelled “Lock Her Up” and find nothing to see here with Trump sad, the Trump cult still has nothing to worry about. If you believe Ryan and McConnell will do anything concerning impeachment, then you have more problems than you think. While they pack courts with unqualified white men and pass “The Donor Class Relief Act” they will drag everything out till maybe 2020. They will use him as long as they can to pass their wet dreams of privatizing government and complete control of the courts. Then the right-wing can yell freedom from government all they want, because they will own it all.

    1. Fishwings,
      Your statement is thoroughly correct. Given, the oligarchy that they enable, It is beyond belief that the GOP is perceived as the party of American patriotism.
      Only a traitor to the nation would say that the Donor Class Relief Act has to be passed so that checks will be written to Republican politicians.

    2. ” pack courts with unqualified white men …. Then the right-wing can yell freedom from government all they want, because they will own it all.”
      ***********************

      Haven’t seen a racial call to arms like that since the 60s but then the racial mix was different. Bravo, FishWings! You really are a time machine.

  3. It seems to me there are two crimes that president Trump is possibly exposed to.

    1. “Collusion” with Russia to rig the election, and 2. Obstruction of Justice.
    Both seem unlikely to me, but this is what Mueller would have to prove for them to be viable.

    For illegal collusion, Trump must have complicitly directed, or participated with Russian officials to break some law in furtherance of his election efforts

    For obstruction of justice, Trump must have acted beyond his legal authority to direct someone to interfere with an ongoing investigation of a crime that he knew about that had occurred.

    The former is very unlikely, the latter is a maybe.

    Overall I doubt there is enough there to form a crime for either.

  4. Flynn might deliver Michael Cohen–Trump’s personal lawyer since 2007 or thereabouts. Whether Cohen would deliver Trump might depend on exactly what Mueller gets against Cohen. Except that, Cohen is reputed to be very loyal to Trump. And, of course, Trump could pardon Cohen. Unless Mueller can get the State of New York to indict Cohen on State offenses. How far would Cohen’s loyalty go?

  5. The only thing the FBI, Mueller and the Left have managed to expose to the American people is justice is subordinate to the agenda of the massive, weaponized, progressive administrative state. Unfortunately, you’ll maybe read about it below the fold on the back page.

  6. “Additionally, the false statements concern the discussion of an upcoming United Nations Security Council vote on whether to condemn Israel’s building of settlements, a matter entirely unrelated to the Russian investigation and a meeting reportedly prompted by requests from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

    So let’s face reality. The Trump transition team violated the Logan act by colluding with the Israeli President. There’s no evidence of collusion with Russians to oppose policy of those currently in office.

    1. Chris P.Bacon,..
      – All we need now is to find a prosecutor with a strong track record of convictions using the Logan Act.😏

    2. Chris,
      Relative to your final sentence, “reality” is, at best, shaky when it is characterized by an absence of knowledge. We have seen the disclosure of legal documents filed… not those that may be in the wings nor, that evidence that is yet unfound.
      At one time, “reality” was a flat earth.

    3. Chris: Fox and Chump keep repeating their hopeful little mantra while clicking their heels: “there’s no evidence of collusion….there’s no evidence of collusion…there’s no evidence of collusion”.

      You don’t know what the evidence is. The facts are still under investigation. Mueller has reeled in some big fish already, and you don’t know what else they know and what else they have. Stop repeating the mantra.

  7. I think you forgot to mention the FBI investigator who has an anti Trump agenda and investigated Hilly and now finally removed from Mueller’s team. So when will there be a special prosecutor for Hilly, Mueller, Comey e.t. al??
    Some of your articles really stink.

    1. The Great Zambini – reports were early on that Mueller had given Comey blanket immunity. Although I would say since Mueller and Comey are buddies, that agreement could be broken because of conflict-of-interest.

      1. How can there be an honest investigation when the wrong doers are doing the investigating?

        1. The Great Zambini – you actually thought there was going to be an honest investigation?

          1. Wasn’t Mueller appointed by Trump’s Assistant Attorney General and didn’t Trump indicate he had faith in Mueller as the investigator… until…?

            1. Linda – we all make mistakes. I once hired a math teacher who I thought would be great for my students, but he was a dud. Had to fire him mid-year.

                1. Linda – one of the truisms of business is you don’t always hire the right person for the right job. Screwups happen. More than one President has hired the wrong person.
                  The purpose of an entry-level job is not to train the person to move to management, but to move into the job sector as a respectable employee with the next employer. The job of the first employer is to mold the employee into a competent employee for the rest of their life, assuming the employee lasts. It is the same with Marine boot camp which teaches you to be a good Marine regardless of rank for the rest of your life.

                  1. Schulte
                    I guess, point made about some situation, somewhere? But it doesn’t have anything to do with the selection of Mueller, a widely respected lawyer.
                    Mueller’s performance has been above reproach. A suspect may not like the outcome but, that’s a different matter entirely.

      1. Natacha: I think I know why a majority of Americans have an anti-Trump agenda. But I’d much rather read your words on the subject than post my own. Please?

  8. “In the end, these are always sad moments. While many enjoy watching public figures fall from great heights, it is an ignoble and painful moment for a man who achieved much in the public interest.”

    For Trump or Flynn?

    Satisfaction in justice has nothing to do with ‘sad moments’ attendant to another’s criminal behavior.

    What the hell is wrong with you Turley?

    1. “Achieved much in the public interest”…is that like Mnuchin’s wife who sacrificed so much for the country while flying in a tax-funded plane to see the eclipse?

      Did Aaron Burr and Robert E. Lee achieve much in the public interest before they turned traitor? Because I think their traitorous acts negated their contribution and made a review of exactly what they contributed, a worthwhile exercise.

      1. Linda – I do not believe either Lee or Burr were convicted of being a traitor.

        1. Thanks Schulte for giving me the opportunity to dip into the “what about…ism” pool… was Nixon let off the hook without a trial?

          1. Linda – do you know so little about even modern history? The Burr trial is kinda a footnote in history because it helps define what is required to be a traitor and Burr didn’t fit the bill. But, geez, you should know about Nixon. Look him up on your own.

            1. There are weak court cases which in no way reflect on the guilt or innocence of the defendant.
              (Courts did not declare Burr nor O.J. Simpson, innocent.)
              Gerald Ford should have been directed to the Nixon trial transcripts before he pardoned him but, they didn’t exist.

              1. Linda – the important thing for Burr and Simpson is that they were not found guilty. And the important thing for Nixon is that he was pardoned.

                1. The important thing for the nation is that it not fall under Russian influence and that it climbs out of the oligarchy vortex.

                    1. No person who cares about his/her democratic nation would vote for a politician who furthers the agenda of the oligarchy. Those of us who care will make the politicians’ lives miserable when the capitol’s cowards aren’t too scared to be among their constituents.

                      We will support the efforts of organizations like the Center for Media and Democracy who gummy up men like the Koch’s and their tool, ALEC.

                      When income and power inequality becomes intolerable, this nation that provided opportunity for so many for so long, will spiral into descent, ruining countless lives. I will then make a plea to the universe to allow the nation to rise from the ashes as a country inhabited by people who want to work with the goal that their neighbors rise with them and with people who refuse to have their neighbors be powerless in governance and to be exploited economically.

            2. Paul, Burr’s plot was exposed and foiled before Burr could accomplish it. By the end of our current quest, we may well discover that Trump’s plot to collude with Russia was exposed and foiled before Trump could accomplish it. Or not.

              1. Diane – Burr’s alleged co-conspirator turned him in, leaving out his part in the conspiracy.

                  1. Linda – absolutely not. Trump is very hands-off in his management style. Kushner might be at risk, though.

                    1. “hands off”, in other words, incompetent as supported by minutiae tweets that undermine he, himself.

                    2. Linda – Jimmy Carter was a micro-manager who drove everybody crazy. Trump tries to hire competent people and then lets them do their job. He is there for advice or direction but usually does not interfere with the day to day business.

                    3. Trump belittles and undercuts the people he hires/appoints. His companies went bankrupt multiple times.
                      The amount he received from his father would have grown to a larger amount if it had been invested in a blind trust. (A study was done documenting it.)
                      With luck, we will see the source of Trump’s financing after the Deutsch Bank records are made available.
                      It’s a sad fact that the people who fell for the Trump PR are the ones most incapable of admitting to their mistake in electing him.

  9. I don’t approve of these special councils from Reagan to Clinton to W. to Trump.

    But let’s take 2 of them and take a look at the men behind them. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Mueller.

    It looks like Fitzgerald has some integrity. He bent over backwards for Scooter Libby who just wouldn’t change his statements that included lying under oath before a grand jury. Even then, Fitzgerald pursued his position with a sense of ethics and proportionality.

    Mueller played a game of gottcha with Flynn, who made an incorrect statement on a matter of no relevancy during a voluntary meeting with F.B.I. agents. Mueller has made a jackass out of himself.

    And he managed to turn Flynn into a sympathetic figure — which I didn’t think was possible.

    1. SteveJ.
      The prosecutor was actually Patrick Fitzgerald, not F. Scott Fitzgerald.
      He was ostensbly appointed to find out who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, who worked for the CIA.
      Richard Armitage admitted to Fitzgerald at the the start of the investigation that he mentioned Plame’s employment in an interview with Robert Novack.
      When asked how he (Armitage) knew about Plame’s position at the CIA, Armitage said that it was common knowledge because her husband ( Joe Wilson) had told numerous people that his wife was with the CIA.
      Armitage was quoted in one article as saying he and others knew about Plame because her husband was going around telling everybody about it.
      I don’t remember all of the details of Fitzgerald’s 2-3? year investigation.
      I think Scooter Libby was the only one criminally charged, for lying to the FBI.
      It seemed odd that Fitzgerald knew at the beginning that Armitage “leaked” Plame’s identity, but that the only conviction ( from what I remember) resulted from questioning Libby about something Fitzgerald already had the answer to.
      So I guess he had something to show for his work at the end of the day.
      The choice of Mueller as special counsel was almost universally praised 6-7 months ago when he was appointed.
      I don’t have any strong opinions about Mueller one way or the other, but his friendship with Comey, his choice of some of the prosecutors he appointed, and his tactics have drawn a substantial amount of criticism.
      PS..I’d have to check to be sure that Libby’s conviction was based on lying to the FBI, as I stated earlier.
      It may have been lying to the grand jury, as you pointed out.

      1. I know its Patrick. And Libby lied to the grand jury. He made it impossible for Fitzgerald not to charge him.

        There have been concerns about Mueller’s ethics for years.

        1. SteveJ.
          – I did a quick check and it looks like Libby was convicted for lying to both the grand jury and the FBI.
          There was a lot of criticism about Fitzgerald’s performance as special prosecutor, much of which you are probably familiar with.

    2. Stevej
      The public only knows Flynn’s plea deal. I presume we lack relevant information, based on various legal experts who have speculated.

  10. The first thing you do in a negotiation is to understand the other side and the world of the negotiation. The second thing you do is to recreate to your advantage the world of the negotiation. Trump understood the inherent frustration of enough voters and how to appeal to them. He commenced at the same time to recreate the world with lies, blame, and sideshow antics. Now the world has changed. The world of Trump, tweeting his ego, saying just about anything that comes into his mind, without thinking, and lying without hesitation, is the new norm. The supporters like the idea of this ‘bad boy’. The new travesties are seen in the light, or darkness, or chaos, or confusion, of this new Trump world. This is a sideshow that Trump concocted within which to perform for his own self gratification and to obscure issues. This is a business deal.

    The only thing one can do is to focus on the issues. Trump and the Republicans have loaded the deficit up by designing tax cuts. About thirty percent get tossed to some of the 95% of Americans who could really use them and 70 percent go to those five percent who simply want more millions. Tax cuts at the top don’t work. Only an idiot believes that if someone earning tens of millions a year gets to keep more, he or she will hire more workers, raise wages, or create more industry. Reagan tried it and we got the worst recession since the Great Depression. Bush tried it and we got an even worse recession. The only way, proven over and over since the beginning of time, to stimulate the economy is to give the most people more disposable cash. The tax cut is distributed backwards. Most if not all of the cuts, if there should have been any at all, should go to the majority of the people, those who would spend the money on new cars, and stuff, those to whom an extra hundred a week would go into the local economy and not the global economy or sit in the stock market.

    The US is last in the world when it comes to the treatment of the majority. Americans still believe in royalty, anybody, which means everybody, making it to the top, and yet know almost nothing about the issues. Too many Americans have their heads up their egotistical a**e* to understand that the top 5% manipulate this country for their benefit. This is where Trump goes when he tweets, lies, creates chaos, blames, massages egos, etc, up the collective a** of too many Americans.

    1. “Reagan tried it and we got the worst recession since the Great Depression.”
      The 1981-1982 recession started shortly after Reagan took office.
      It was followed by 6 years of very solid GDP growth, probably avraging about 4% a year after the 1981-1982 recession.
      You’ve made all kinds of bogus claims previously, like your claim that Reagan’s policies caused a seven year recession.
      Every now and then you might be called on your inaccuracies when you keep repeating the same lies, or variations of the same lies.

    2. What is that statistic that says the top 20% already pays 95% of all federal income taxes?
      Wouldn’t that follow that the top 5% gets 70% of the tax cuts?

      It seems unfair when you can lie with statistics, but it actually is not unfair.

      1. Gary T

        Trump, Reagan, and Bush all argued that by giving back money to the top 5 to 10 percent, the economy would grow. This has been proven to be false time and time again. The best way to stimulate the economy is for the masses to spend more money, buy more widgets, thus creating demand and to meet the demand supply which equates to jobs, taxes, etc. It has nothing to do with the fairness of who pays the most taxes. The richest of the rich would be nowhere without the consumer and the worker. It may sound a little ‘red’ but Bill Gates did not make his billions. Bill Gates organized workers to produce products that the public bought. Without an energized consumer base most of the population suffers. The top never suffer. First small items, then cars, then real estate. If you want to bring fairness into it then how about how unfair it is to be duped into believing that this is a democracy when it is an oligarchy. The real democracies do not allow private purchasing of candidates, senators, congressmen, presidents. Only in America, where some stand up for the rights of billionaires.

        As far as income taxes go, they are but a part of the revenue that fuels the country. The consumer is the source of all revenue: for the government, the rich, the ultra rich, all….. Some Americans have it a** backwards. But that’s the opposite of progressive; regressive.

        1. Without the policy of elongated patent protections, Gates would not have wealth equivalent to 750,000,000 people.
          Bill Gates spoke out against raising the minimum wage and against public pensions. Last Nov., he funded efforts to defeat Washington state judges who had rendered decisions favorable to public schools. Gates (the man, not his foundation) and Zuckerberg are investors in the largest seller of for-profit schools-in-a-box. Gates has great P.R., helped by white washing from the Democratic Party. The Walton’s and tech titans support the Center for American Progress wing of the Democratic Party.

      2. By definition, slaves don’t pay income taxes and, with the GOP in charge, the top 0.1% don’t want to pay to educate the slaves nor to provide for their healthcare.

        The state of Washington which has no income tax (home to Gates and Bezos), has the most regressive tax system in the U.S. The poor pay a rate that is up to 7 times the rate that the rich pay.

  11. This crappy article is what happens when you have a lawyer who know little about criminal defense attempts to pretend that he knows a lot. JT needs to shut up or at the very least refer readers to an attorney who know 100 times more than he does on this subject, such as Alan Dershowitz. The bottom line is that Mueller, the treasonous 911 Justice obstructive, has emerged with absolutely nothing after spending untold millions of dollars of taxpayers money on matters have zero to do with any purported Russian interference in the presidential election. All Mueller has proved is that if you have endless legal resources and funding, you can legally cripple someone by forcing them to go virtually bankrupt defending themselves. Mueller has engaged in the equivalent of torture and extortion to squeeze what he could out of Flynn. So now all Mueller has is a witness who has admitted to lying after being coerced into doing so. Now anything Flynn says will lack any credibility. Meanwhile, nobody is investigating Mueller, Comey, and all the other worthless, treasonous, vile scum who have been feeding off the government teat.

      1. Wrong again (as usual), DBB. Ohhh how you Leftists hate facts, evidence, and the law. . .

    1. You have no understanding of which you speak. Stop writing. You embarrass yourself.

      1. I agree 100% with you Darrin. Since you have no understanding of the issues or the law, you should remain silent. Please follow your own advice.

        1. Ralph Adamo, The circle in which you’re walking around and around environs what James Angleton dubbed The Wilderness of Mirrors. Imagine a Where’s Waldo Puzzle in which every cartoon character who bears a vague resemblance to Waldo points the finger at some other cartoon character who also bears a vague resemblance to Waldo. Now imagine that Waldo is English for Vlad. That’s right, Ralph. It’s actually a Where’s Vlad Puzzle. Enjoy.

        1. YNOT — do some research on Mueller – he’s got quite the legacy. A real prince of virtue – 9/11 release of Saudis w/o debriefing, prging FBI training materials from references to extreme terrorist groups, targeting innocent man for anthrax attacks, suppressed inf about Uranium

          this’ll start you off

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NW9phCuz_0

          1. Who do you suggest comrade? Perhaps your friend Squeeky, the journalist, or Nick the Dick could do the job. I am sure their integrity is intact much like your faux Bernie or bust persona.

            1. Also, comrade, do not let the humans see your reboot commands not all readers are as dumb as Mesblo, PCS, the list goes on.

              1. YNOT – it would be nice if you could move the conversation forward instead of insulting people. I have decided that when I am done with Marky Mark Mark I will make you my especial project. 🙂 You lucky guy, you.

                  1. Ken – you know I am a card-carrying member of the John Birch Society, right?

                    1. Paul C. Schulte, I thought you’re card was for your memnership in the American Bunde.😁

                    2. Tom Nash – at least the John Birch Society was on the Right. I could never belong to the American Bunde, didn’t like the uniforms. 😉

            2. YNOT, as I’m sure you know, the closer Mueller gets to Trump, the more Trump’s defenders point the finger at anybody and everybody else but Trump and vice-versa. In the end, Trump’s defenders will be pointing the finger at themselves and at one another rather than at Trump. Which is, of course, exactly where their fingers should’ve been pointing all along.

    2. Ralph: how do you know what Mueller and his team have uncovered? Where did you get the idea that Mueller tortured or extorted anyone? You watch too much Fox News. Why would anyone investigate Mueller, anyway? What facts are there to suggest the need for any such investigation?

      1. Look up the FBI ignoring warnings fro Russian intel about the Boston bombers, and/or see above post to YNOT. Also see Sibil Edmonds. Mueller was in charge so he is responsible for poor judgement.

        “Described by the American Civil Liberties Union as the “most gagged person in the history of the United States of America,” Edmonds studied criminal justice, psychology and public policy at George Washington and George Mason universities. Two weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, her fluency in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani earned her an FBI contract at the Washington DC field office. She was tasked with translating highly classified intelligence from operations against terrorism suspects in and outside the U.S..

        In the course of her work, Edmonds became privy to evidence that U.S. military and intelligence agencies were collaborating with Islamist militants affiliated with al-Qaeda, the very forces blamed for the 9/11 attacks – and that officials in the FBI were covering up the evidence. When Edmonds complained to her superiors, her family was threatened by one of the subjects of her complaint, and she was fired. Her accusations of espionage against her FBI colleagues were eventually investigated by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, which did not give details about the allegations as they remained classified.

        Although no final conclusions about the espionage allegations were reached, the Justice Department concluded that many of Edmonds’ accusations “were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services.”

        When she attempted to go public with her story in 2002, and again in 2004, the U.S. government silenced Edmonds by invoking a legal precedent known as “state secrets privilege” – a near limitless power to quash a lawsuit based solely on the government’s claim that evidence or testimony could divulge information that might undermine “national security.” Under this doctrine, the government sought to retroactively classify basic information concerning Edmonds’s case already in the public record, including, according to the New York Times, “what languages Ms. Edmonds translated, what types of cases she handled, and what employees she worked with, officials said. Even routine and widely disseminated information — like where she worked — is now classified.”

        https://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/whistleblower-al-qaeda-chief-u-s-asset/

        1. Autumn, I know you’re very busy, but, whenever you can find some spare time, please read, or reread, about James Angleton and The Wilderness of Mirrors. The point being that institutional paranoia, inter-agency rivalry and bureaucratic infighting have a long and sordid history of hobbling and hamstringing our country’s intelligence services as well as adding fuel to the fire of conspiracy-theorist maunderings.

          IOW, YNOT’s excellent question, who do you suggest should investigate Mueller, cannot be answered except with yet another Mueller-like figure. Such will always be the case, Autumn.

  12. The Good, the Bad & the Ugly shootout scene. You see there are two kinds of people in this world. You’re going to have to earn it. It was about the money. That gold.

  13. Are they “Trumpsters?” “Trumpistas”? “Orange Shirts”? Or should they be known by some other moniker? I speak, of course, of those who remain enamored of Trump, convinced that his efforts to establish “better relations with Russia” was some form of altruistic effort to make the world a better place.

    Trump doesn’t do altruism. He does “deals.” Why have so many high level officials, “forgotten” about communications with Russia, lied publicly about contacts with Russia, and, with respect to at least two individuals, committed the crime of lying to the FBI? That is the question.

    None of the people posting here know the full story. It’s so much fun, however, to pretend be sure that Trump is either a crook or hasn’t done anything wrong at all. While I’m not sure what facts will come out going forward, I’m going to have some fun speculating now.

    Manafort has been charged with some very nasty things, dealing with money, unreported income, etc., and his contacts with Russian “money men” seem to be rather good. If Trump was all about merely making nice with Russia and Vlad the Paler, there would have been no need for someone like Manafort to be around. I’m predicting that there is some evidence out there of some good old fashioned crimes that may have involved Trump before he became President. Maybe money laundering, maybe unreported income, who knows what else. But I’m talking old fashioned crimes involving money. Perhaps that evidence was/is in the hands of Vlad the Paler, making Trump vulnerable to blackmail.

    Whatever is out there, I’m thinking that Trump’s super secret tax returns have some sort of clue. No, I’m not saying that Trump’s tax returns contain a confession to money laundering. But they may have some sort of information that, when paired with other information, could cause major problems for Trump.

    I’m also guessing that the Trump & Co. contacts with Russia involved quid pro quos. The nature of those quid pro quos, if they exist, along with any evidence of pre-2017 evidence of bad conduct by Trump, if that exists, is what will determine where the investigation goes. I don’t think Mueller’s team would give Flynn such a good deal unless there is going to be some very serious cooperation by Flynn.

    Yes, Flynn is now a felon, and his future testimony will be attacked for that reason. But do you know what happens to cooperating witnesses who don’t tell the truth? They have breached the plea agreement and thus risk going to jail for a much longer period of time. Not to mention Flynn’s son will be at risk if Flynn breaches his plea agreement. So his future testimony will be judged by the fact that any lie he tells subjects him to really serious jail time and subjects his son to prosecution.

    What I find most peculiar is that no one is seeking testimony from Paul Ryan, who said last year he believed that Trump and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher were on the take from Vlad the Paler. Of course, Ryan later said the comment was said in jest. But that assertion was made only after he denied making the statement in the first place, only to learn that the statement was caught on tape. Why lie if it was made in jest? Get Paul Ryan under oath! After all, if it had been Hillary who had said that, Mr. Gowdy would have convened multiple investigations about the comment.

    And for those of you who think it is OK to solicit or obtain political “dirt” from foreign governments, go ahead and do it, Double dare you! Last time I checked it was a felony.

    For all of you Trumpsters, Trumpistas, etc. out there, don’t worry. You are certain I’m wrong, so I must be wrong. Plus Hillary, Hillary, Hillary, There, now. No need for any of you to stoop to commenting about silly predictions from some low life occasional poet with a strange name (did I mention that I was born in a STRIP MALL- imagine that, with my name!) which will never come to pass. But at least I admit I’m guessing.

    1. Oliver Clozoff said, ” . . . (did I mention that I was born in a STRIP MALL- imagine that, with my name!) . . .”

      Well, well, well . . . That’s the most cleverly concealed pun I’ve seen yet (that I can remember). It took me twenty-seven hours or so to figure it out. And I’m still not sure what to make out of the “Oliver” part. Could it be something like this: O! Leave her clothes off???

  14. So Mueller has a memo Comey wrote stating one thing with no other proof. The President says it’s not true. One on one Comey also wrote other memos and has record of self admitted leaking. Next Senator Finestein says refers to the Comey written memos and somehow decides that it means obstruction of justice on the part of President Trump. The rest is just commentary.

    So it’s still He said, He said with nothing offered to substantiate the claim discounting the personal opinion of one of the Senates Chief obstructionests

    I used the far left Politico research into collusion only to find their panel of legal experts either stated it was flatly not a crime or sort of came up with ‘what if this or that happened’ then listed reasons why it woudn’t be a crime except in certain specfic circumstances. The best one stated flatly the famous Russian Lawyer meeting may have been this and that but also it too place with non candidates not running for office nor holding any official government position.

    End of story Collusion is not a federal crime and there is no such thing in the Criminal Code as Criminal Collusion. The best attempt was ‘it is the word the news media has chosen to describe something else.”

    Another dead end.

    So if it is collusion and if colusion was a crime it still didn’t meet any tests besides wishful thinking.

    Here is the reference on the elements of National Security specifically illegal disclosure

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/798#

    No where does it contain the element of intent. The several opinions by the better resources referred to it as a possibility but again could not produce an accurate list of elements of the crime …so far except Cornell who went straight to the source themselves. Some used a term where they insert the word intent but it doesn’t exist in the actual law itself.reading the above source.

    Nor did I find it in the National Security Act Laws

    Therefore Comey intentionally misled Clinton in his action of stating there was no intent. Some of the other sources listed various hypotheticals and one included a word used by Comey willful referring to the will ful continuance of operating a classified document depository and refusing to correct the situation and something about willful destruction of …

    What his motive was is unclear but unecessary. a. set up Clinton, b. set up the Adjutant General come to mind.

    My last area is the very curious lack of any sort of investigation into the lack of adherence to proper and required security. It is inconceiveable that any staffer responsible for security would not file a CYA or Cover Your Ass memo each and every time a required briefing was refused or a required correction ignored.
    The only ones we know about all without exception took the 5th Amendment. The rest were apparently not questioned or the paper trail checked to see if they were or were not in compliance.

    Why? Thinking or being told they couldl get a pardon comes to mind .

    Did the newcomer the outsider the lottery candidate make errors in the Washington DC system? Of Course. But then we elected him to a. bar Clinton for life from any such future effort and secondly because he was an outsider.

    That effort was certainly good and needed move on our part.

  15. Mueller is a long way from getting anything substantial. If he wants Trump, he needs more than Flynn. They squeezed Flynn using his son, so Flynn fell on his sword for his family. I am sure they expect him to testify in future trials, but whose?

    1. He certainly has Kushner in his sights, it’s likely he’s at least lied to the FBI. Having visited his father in Federal prison for tax fraud and retaliation against a witness (his sister). I imagine the thought of his three children visiting him in jail will be daunting. Donald Trump Jr will also be easy prey but not worth making concessions for testimony against him.

      As for Donald, there is as yet no direct evidence against him. The choices are either he’s complicit… or totally unaware of all that was transpiring all around him, including family members.

      1. Enigma,..
        What criminal act, specifically, has Kushner “in his sights”.
        What specific illegal conduct on the part of either JR. of Kushner make them “easy prey”.
        What charges do you anticipate?

          1. Enigma,..
            Thanks for your reply.
            We know the plea deal with Flynn involved his guilty plea of lying to the FBI.
            And there’s been a lot of coverage about the nature of those lies.
            “Mueller’s team” has questioned Kushner, according to “informed sources”.
            And the “Mueller’s team” that questioned Kushner may well have been the FBI.
            Could you fill me in on the nature of the lies that Kushner or JR. told to the FBI? ( assuming that the FBI did the questioning).
            Also, what action by them that you know of shows that they obstructed justice?

            1. Tom Nash… I believe he failed to disclose his contacts with Russia , as we know he did on the fprms he filled out seeking a security clearance. The obstructipn comes from the same lies.

              1. Thanks, Enigma.
                I had fotgotten about the very high number of errors and omissions on Kushner’s SF-86 security form.
                I think he had to revise it at least three times, partially because of his earlier failure to disclose foreign contacts.
                So I think you’re correct that Mueller could deem that a criminal act and go after Kushner.

                1. Tom Nash,
                  They just discovered another omission having to do with an organization involving Israel he never disclosed. That was yesterday or the day before.

    2. Paul C. Schulte,..
      I don’t know what Mueller has, or what he knows at this point.
      For the time being, I’m a long way from getting anything consistent in the way of answers to some questions I’ve posed recently.
      I’d settle for that, but I don’t anticipate it.

    3. “Fell on his sword for his family” and country- too bad it wasn’t before he got all of that money from foreign interests.
      At least Ollie North waited to get rich (right wing radio), until after his transgressions.

        1. Schulte.
          We can surmise Flynn was not paid by the Turkish national Gulen, who was the target of Flynn’s alleged kidnapping?
          Does Russia support Gulen’s opponent Erdogan, because I think I read that?

          1. Linda – I am not that familiar with the Flynn case and have not been following it, except that they were pressuring his son to put pressure on him. That is why he caved, IMHO.

            1. Was Flynn’s son linked to the false rumor about the D.C. pizza place and child trafficking? If so, charitably speaking, the family’s moral compass is out of whack

  16. Gen. Flynn got lucky given the apparent scope of his transgression; was he stupid, or did he think that he is bulletproof?

    1. Like the rest of the people in that party they could not conceive of losing the election and relied on what was probably promised the guarantee of a pardon if needed. The IT people specifically and others such as Flynn.

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