In a big scoop yesterday, NYT reported that Mike Flynn has withdrawn from a joint cooperation agreement with the White House, leading many people to believe that he is moving towards cooperating with Robert Mueller.
Lawyers for Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, notified the president’s legal team in recent days that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation, according to four people involved in the case — an indication that Mr. Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating a deal.
Mr. Flynn’s lawyers had been sharing information with Mr. Trump’s lawyers about the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining whether anyone around Mr. Trump was involved in Russian efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
[T]he notification led Mr. Trump’s lawyers to believe that Mr. Flynn — who, along with his son, is seen as having significant criminal exposure — has, at the least, begun discussions with Mr. Mueller about cooperating.
Mr. Flynn is regarded as loyal to Mr. Trump, but he has in recent weeks expressed serious concerns to friends that prosecutors will bring charges against his son, Michael Flynn Jr., who served as his father’s chief of staff and was a part of several financial deals involving the elder Mr. Flynn that Mr. Mueller is scrutinizing.
The WaPo confirmed NYT’s scoop, adding the detail that Flynn’s lawyer told Trump’s lawyer on Wednesday evening.
The call from Flynn lawyer Robert Kelner to Trump attorney John Dowd came Wednesday evening and is a potentially ominous sign for Trump and his close associates.
Along with all the reports that Mueller was implicating Flynn, Jr in his dad’s corruption, this timing would also closely follow the hints that Reza Zarrab, whose release Flynn reportedly discussed brokering, is now cooperating with prosecutors. It’s unclear how much Zarrab would have learned in jail about efforts to free him, but it’s certainly possible that the knowledge that he is likely cooperating changed Flynn’s calculus as well. And there may be other reasons, still not public, why Flynn reversed his determination to fight prosecution rather than cooperate.
But there’s something really funny about the White House’s confirmation that Flynn pulled out of the joint defense agreement, along with their pathetic claims this doesn’t mean Trump is in trouble.
Jay Sekulow, an attorney for Trump, said, “This is not entirely unexpected.”
“No one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about General Flynn cooperating against the president,” he said, adding, “It’s important to remember that General Flynn received his security clearance under the previous administration.”
Confirming to the press that Flynn pulled out of the joint defense agreement involves confirming that the White House had a joint defense agreement with his lawyers. And that entails confirming that the President is being targeted in matters closely tied to Flynn’s own actions.
Thus far, the crimes Flynn is most publicly being accused of — largely relating to his unreported influence peddling, for both Turkey and Russia — don’t necessarily impact Trump. Given the details that have thus far been made public, those actions could just reflect his own greed, not any overt work with Trump to implement the policies he promised to the Turks he would deliver. Indeed, there’d be little need for Flynn’s lawyers to work with Trump’s if that were the only criminal charges he was facing.
But now several Trump lawyers are on the record saying they viewed themselves as targeted by the same investigation as Flynn is. Which means (unsurprisingly) Trump was probably in the loop on Flynn’s influence peddling. And which also means Flynn’s discussions with Sergei Kislyak about sanctions relief — and his lies about them to the FBI — directly implicate Trump. That’s the stuff that would justify a joint defense agreement, and that’s the stuff the White House just confirmed by confirming the no longer operative joint defense agreement.
In spite of all the claims that Trump isn’t being investigated, Trump’s lawyers have just admitted that they have been treating Flynn’s criminal exposure as related to the President’s own.