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President Donald Trump’s short-lived national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Most US media jumped on the plea as proof of Trump’s collusion with Russia. Actual documents, however, tell a different story.
A court document signed by special counsel Robert Mueller, dated Thursday, specifies two instances of Flynn telling FBI investigators things that were not true. They relate to two conversations he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in December 2016.
In the Statement of Offense signed by Flynn at his court appearance on Friday, he admitted to acting on instructions from a senior “Presidential Transition Team” (PTT) official, prompting breathless speculation if that was Trump himself, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, or someone else altogether. The one question nobody seems to be asking is, “So what?"
It is intuitively obvious to even the most casual observer that Flynn’s “crime” is a procedural one: he told FBI investigators he hadn’t done a thing that he actually did. But was the thing he did - namely, speak with the Russian ambassador to the US - against the law? Not really.
Under the 1799 Logan Act, it is technically against the law for a private US citizen to engage in diplomacy. However, only two people have ever been indicted under that law, and no one has ever been prosecuted. Flynn was a member of the presidential transition team whose duties involved contacts with foreign diplomats. So why would the FBI even ask him about his contacts with Ambassador Kislyak?
“There was nothing wrong with the incoming national security adviser’s having meetings with foreign counterparts or discussing such matters as the sanctions in those meetings,” Andrew McCarthy of National Review wrote on Friday.
Because Flynn was “generally despised by Obama administration officials,” McCarthy added, “there has always been cynical suspicion that the decision to interview him was driven by the expectation that he would provide the FBI with an account inconsistent with the recorded conversation - i.e., that Flynn was being set up for prosecution on a process crime.”
Leon Panetta, President Obama’s former Secretary of Defense, told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Friday that it was a “stretch” to say the Trump transition team broke the law with their contacts with the Russians.
“We have one administration at a time,” Panetta said, warning that the Trump transition team undermined long-standing political norms in the United States by engaging in diplomacy while the Obama administration was still in office.
However, the former defense secretary doubted that dealings with the Russians rose to the level of criminal violations.
“[Their contact with Russia] was very unusual. Whether it breaks the law or not, I think that’s probably a stretch,” Panetta predicted.
originally posted by: burdman30ott6
a reply to: theantediluvian
Leon Panetta does not share your interpretation of this, not did Wall Street once the initial panic sellers had finished overreating to the news.
originally posted by: theantediluvian
a reply to: JBurns
Did any of those people lie to the FBI as well? If so and it can be proven, those people can be charged with a crime. If the President did it and it can be proven, that case can be handed off to Congress to deal with. Forget about collusion with Russia and forget about the firing of Comey, lying to the FBI may very well be grounds for impeachment.
Let's really speculate here. What if both Trump AND Pence lied to the FBI? Because that's the sort of thing that Flynn may very well be able to testify to and while I'm sure Flynn had every intention of being loyal to Trump, the guy's a general with 35 years or something of service. I wouldn't put it past him to have a legitimate come to Jesus moment here and unburden his soul for the good of the nation.
Could Trump and Pence BOTH be impeached?
originally posted by: Chadwickus
a reply to: RazorV66
Seems to be having more success than the mob trying to get charges brought against old Hillary though....