While America was passing through it’s annual Festival of Starches, followed by the a three day torpor broken by occasional glimpses of football, news about the Trump–Russia investigation continued to emerge. As did expressions of Trump’s frustration.
The Russia, Russia, Russia investigation continued over the holidays, with the biggest news being the apparent cooperation between Michael Flynn and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Former US attorney Preet Bharara said Sunday that it's likely President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is in discussions with special counsel Robert Mueller about cooperating with his investigation into Russian meddling in last year's election.
This is far from a sure thing, but the apparent distance between Flynn’s defense team and that of the rest of Trump’s cohorts is a good indicator that Flynn has either flipped to provide evidence, or is at least preparing a defense that is in some sense hostile to other members of Team Trump.
What kind of information might Flynn provide? The supposed cause of Flynn’s dismissal was a series of unreported contacts with the Russian ambassador. Trump hurried to claim that all of Flynn’s contacts were just fine, but that he was only being fired of his failure to explain his actions to Mike Pence.
However, the best sign of Flynn’s importance may be just how hard Donald Trump worked to attempt to get a pardon for his former national security advisor. The goal of that pardon was clearly not because Flynn was such a great guy and Trump didn’t want him bothered by an investigation. The goal was to simply keep Flynn quiet. And it’s increasingly clear that there is more to Flynn’s story than we know.
Stories are still coming out to reveal that Flynn had international connections that went beyond his dinner with Putin.
In June 2015, retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn took a little-noticed trip to Egypt and Israel, paid for by a U.S. company he was advising. The company hoped to build more than two dozen nuclear plants in the region in partnership with Russian interests.
Like most of Trump’s White House team, Flynn’s memory is apparently very poor — so poor that he failed to mention a trip to the Middle East in support of Russian interests when he reapplied for security clearance in 2016. Democrats in Congress have already called for an investigation of this matter. Republicans in the Congress, deeply invested in providing cover to Trump by launching investigations into already-investigated transactions from a decade ago, refused to look into Flynn’s trip.
They’ll continue to ignore the information that there was someone in the White House who had directly taken part in a nuclear deal with Russia for the sole purpose of personal profit.
Flynn remained involved in the Middle Eastern nuclear project from the spring of 2015 to the end of 2016, according to recent financial disclosure filings, a period that partially overlapped with his role as a prominent adviser to Trump’s campaign and transition.
But that doesn’t mean that Mueller will ignore it.
The nuclear venture is yet another instance in which Flynn appeared to have a personal stake in an international project while he was advising Trump in 2016, giving prosecutors one more potential avenue to pressure him to cooperate.
And in fact it’s these kind of transactions that seem to be the focus of Mueller’s investigation, both for other Trump associates under investigation and for Flynn.
Interviews conducted by special counsel investigators have included questions about the business dealings of Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., such as the reporting of income from work overseas, two witnesses interviewed by the team previously told CNN. The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires people acting as agents of foreign entities to publicly disclose their relationship with foreign countries or businesses and financial compensation for such work.
Honestly, none of the principals involved are likely to end up behind bars over violations of FARA. But the understanding is clear that no one involved was hustling to do things for Russian oligarchs because they were deeply loyal to Mother Russia or some concept of a restored Soviet Union. All of Trump’s team, including Trump, were in it for the money.