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Why the Latest Michael Flynn News Suggests Trump Can ‘Breathe a Bit Easier’


In observing the various ways President Donald Trump has dealt with ongoing criminal investigations into those who used to work for him, it’s plain to see that Trump hasn’t attacked his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in the way that he has with Michael Cohen. This has led some to ask: Why is that? Flynn “flipped” too, didn’t he?

The easiest conclusion to draw is that Trump simply doesn’t see Flynn as a threat to him. Given what we learned on Monday about Flynn’s former business partner being charged with conspiracy and illegally acting in the U.S. as a foreign agent for Turkey, that rings even more true now.

So, why is it that Trump can “breathe a bit easier on the Flynn front,” as CNN legal analyst Ross Garber put it?

When Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a sentencing memo in Flynn’s case two weeks ago, heavy redaction in areas of interest to the general public — namely, the details about Flynn’s cooperation — added more intrigue to the case. We saw pages like this one below and were left wondering what on earth this criminal investigation could be.

The Department of Justice unsealed the indictments of 66-year-old Californian Bijan Rafiekian (also known as Bijan Kian) and 41-year-old Turkish-Dutch national Kamil Ekim Alptekin on Monday. Kian was a former business partner of Flynn’s. Both Kian and Alptekin were charged with conspiracy and illegally acting in the U.S. as Turkish agents. Alptekin was also charged with four counts of lying to the FBI.

It appears that this case is the completely redacted investigation pictured above, and it appears to have no connection to Trump or the Trump campaign.

Besides this mystery offshoot investigation, Mueller went on to discuss Flynn’s “substantial assistance” to the Special Counsel’s Office on “interactions” between the Trump transition team and Russia:

The defendant provided firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials. For example, after the election, the defendant communicated with the Russian ambassador [Kislyak] to the United States as a representative of the transition team on two sensitive matters: a United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution calling or Israel to cease settlement activities in Palestinian territory and the Obama Administration’s imposition of sanctions and other measures on Russia for interfering in the 2016 election. Several senior members  of the transition team publicly repeated false information conveyed to them [by Flynn] about communications between him and the Russian ambassador regarding the sanctions.

Nowhere in here is Trump’s direct involvement indicated. Instead, it’s “senior members or the transition team” repeating Flynn’s falsehoods.  The next few lines related to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were redacted, however, so stay tuned.

Immediately after this, Mueller acknowledged that Flynn “also provided useful information concerning” one more matter that was completely redacted.

There was no hint as to what this might be.

We don’t yet know what Flynn’s “useful” information relates to here, but if you consider that Trump has time and again lashed out at those who have turned up the heat on him, or “ratted,” as the case may be, the fact that he hasn’t been berating Flynn publicly is noteworthy. After all, the president has been in the loop on the criminal cases of Paul Manafort, Cohen, and others.


[Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.