NBC News has been reporting, on the basis of “multiple sources familiar with” the investigation of Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 Presidential campaign, that special counsel Robert Mueller has sufficient evidence to bring charges against former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, and his son, Michael G. Flynn.
The elder Flynn, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General, was President Donald Trump’s NSA from inauguration day until February 13, 2017. He resigned from that post after the Justice Department warned the White House that Flynn could become a blackmail target.
The indictment of General Flynn, if it does come about, may well involve accusations that Flynn was involved in plans to abduct a Turkish dissident, Fethullah Gulen, living in the United States, and return him to Turkey to face prosecution there. The government of Turkey has sought Gulen through the more formal (and lawful) means of extradition, but has thus far failed to make its case in the eyes of the U.S. authorities.
The NBC report says that Flynn’s son “worked closely with his father, accompanied him during the [Trump] campaign and briefly worked on the presidential transition.” But it seems likely that if he is indicted, that indictment would be seen by Mueller’s office chiefly as a lever for use in the negotiations with General Flynn.
Left Wing View
For months the name of the elder Flynn has been circulating within the rumor mill that has surrounded the Mueller investigation.
In May, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) publicly speculated that Flynn was already at that time a cooperating witness. This was guesswork, based on the fact that subpoenas had gone out by that time to a number of business associates of the Flynn family demanding “records, research, contracts, bank records, communications” connected to Flynn. The idea was that Flynn wasn’t the target of all this activity, but its instigator. If the NBC report is right, that theory of the situation this spring may have been misguided, and he really was the target.
Flynn has also long been one of the Trump administration’s favorite targets of opportunity within the Trump inner circle, targeted as someone with what Slate magazine writer Elliott Hannon called a “shady past and shadowy present.”
More recently, as President Trump headed off for his journey through East Asia, Ted Lieu, a Democratic member of Congress from the 33d district (in Los Angeles County) of California, tweeted a request to POTUS, “during your meeting with Putin, don’ forget to tell him that Michael Flynn says hello.”
Right Wing View
The most common conservative response to the NBC News report is … defiance. As USA Over Party tweeted on Sunday, November 5, “GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN IS A GREAT AMERICAN & PATRIOT Sit back, wait & watch as his accusers implode.”
A more specific but equally defiant contention is that tweeted by First Words, who says, “If Michael Flynn and his son are convicted of trumped-up charges due to the witch hunt, Trump will pardon. Simple as that.”
Some on social media are comparing Mike Flynn to Bowe Bergdahl. Flynn, the decorated General who seems to be in increasing legal jeopardy; versus Bergdahl the admitted deserter who recently received a lenient sentence from a military court. The contrast strikes conservatives as perverse.
On oddity of the situation is that a prosecutorial case against Mueller would appear to be stronger with regard to Turkey than with regard to Russia. He almost certainly did violate federal laws in lobbying on behalf of Turkey (even aside from the discussions of a possible abduction of a dissident.)
On the other hand, the special counsel’s mandate concerns Russia, not Turkey. When one has only a hammer, all problems look like nails.