Violating The Logan Act and Lying To The FBI Were The Dotard’s Ideas
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, NBC reports, “appears to be interested in whether Trump directed [Michael Flynn] to lie to senior officials, including Pence, or the FBI, and if so why, the sources said.” This makes a lot of sense and Jonathan Chait explains why.
Flynn Violated The Logan Act And Lied To The FBI
Chait explains what happened with Flynn succinctly:
In December 2016, Flynn sat at the center of hidden diplomacy between the Trump transition team and Russia. The departing Obama administration was putting into place sanctions to punish Russia for its criminal theft of emails. The Trump team was quietly telling Russia not to retaliate because it would reverse or undermine those sanctions. Flynn conveyed this message to Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December. The next month he denied doing so to FBI agents.
Two days after that, Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, met with White House counsel Don McGahn and told him about Flynn’s lie, which she had learned of through FBI surveillance of Russia. The danger of the lie was extreme. Since the Russians were privy to the conversation Flynn had denied ever having, they knew he was lying, and thus had powerful blackmail leverage over him.
The Dotard’s Response
Despite having been informed that the incoming national security adviser was an extreme security risk, Flynn remained on the job for 18 more days, and was finally fired, supposedly for lying to Vice-President Mike Pence. The Dotard; nonetheless, praised Flynn effusively and reportedly later conveyed the message he should “stay strong.”
Why would Flynn behave so recklessly? He took a big risk by speaking with the Russians, violating the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from “influenc[ing] the measures or conduct of any foreign government” or “defeat[ing] the measures of the United States.” Flynn’s career in intelligence work would have made him perfectly aware of the high likelihood that his conversation was being surveilled. He took a second additional risk by allegedly lying about this to the FBI.
If Trump instructed Flynn to lie to the FBI about his conversation, it would explain why Flynn took the two gigantic legal risks he did being that he felt empowered to take such obvious chances because the incoming president offered him cover. It would also explain why the White House took so long to fire him, why Trump asked James Comey to let Flynn off the hook and then fired Flynn when Comey failed to promise to do so, and why Trump continued to signal his affection for Flynn even afterward.
Lying to the FBI is an obvious crime. For the first time, we have a clear line of sight to a potential act of undeniable illegality by the Dotard. He may not have violated the Logan Act, but he may have known Flynn did.