General Michael Flynn, President Trump’s ousted National Security Adviser, has publicly confirmed that he has offered to “tell his side of the story” to the multiple investigations – by the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and by the FBI – which are looking into the ‘Russiagate’ allegations.
This offer was made public yesterday in a letter from General Flynn’s lawyer.
The media is claiming that in this letter and in General Flynn’s private discussions with staffers of the Senate and House Committees and with the FBI General Flynn has insisted on being granted immunity from prosecution before he talks. Moreover this demand is being cited by some people as “proof” that General Flynn has committed a crime, with references made to comments made by General Flynn in October when he also claimed that requests for immunity in return for evidence by certain of Hillary Clinton’s associates amounted to an admission of a crime. A good example of this is provided by The Guardian
Immunity is typically sought to avoid penalty for breaking the law. Flynn agreed with the characterization while discussing the partial immunity granted to an aide to Hillary Clinton amid the federal government’s investigation of the former secretary of state’s use of a private email server at the state department.
Speaking to NBC’s Meet the Press in September, two months before the election, Flynn stated: “When you are given immunity, that means you have probably committed a crime.”
In order to judge these claims properly it is necessary to look carefully at the text of the letter from General Flynn’s lawyer. This is especially so given that this is a letter which was drafted by a lawyer. The letter reads as follows
General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit.
Out of respect for the Committees, we will not comment right now on the details of discussions between counsel for General Flynn and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, other than to confirm that those discussions have taken place. But it is important to acknowledge the circumstances in which those discussions are occurring.
General Flynn is a highly decorated 33 year veteran of the US army. He devoted most of his life to serving his country, spending many years away from his family fighting this nation’s battles around the world. He was awarded four Bronze Stars for actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the war on terror. He received the Legion of Merit twice, and the Defense Superior Service Medal four times. He is recipient of the Defense Department’s Distinguished Service Award and the Intelligence Community Gold Seal Medallion for Distinguished Service, as well as numerous other decorations.
Notwithstanding his life of national service, the media are awash with unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo directed at him. He is now the target of unsubstantiated public demands by Members of Congress and other political critics that he be criminally investigated. No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution.
30th March 2017
This is not a letter admitting a crime or wrongdoing, whether impliedly or otherwise. On the contrary it describes “public demands” that General Flynn be “criminally investigated” as “unsubstantiated”. This is a denial that any crime was committed.
It also says that these “unsubstantiated demands” have been made against a background of “unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo” and speaks of a “highly politicized, witch hunt environment”.
What this letter and presumably the negotiations between General Flynn’s lawyer and the staff of the two Committees and the FBI are quite obviously aiming to do is protect General Flynn from a situation where anything he says in testimony is twisted beyond its natural meaning so as to set up a politically biased “unfair” prosecution against him.
Given that General Flynn has been variously accused of crimes under the Logan Act, of perjury, of failing to register as a Turkish agent, and of treason, one can understand his lawyer’s concern. As the letter says, insisting on this form of protection in this situation is a basic precaution.
That the lawyer’s concerns are fully justified is shown by the way some people such as The Guardian have already been trying on the strength of certain things General Flynn said in October to twist this letter, which is as clear a denial of crime or wrongdoing as it is possible for a lawyer to write, into an admission that such things took place.