Thanks to disgraced National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller now has material evidence of a secret deal between President-elect Trump and the Russian government about U.S. sanctions.
At least that’s what a seven page memo filed in federal court earlier this week, strongly suggests.
Flynn, a former general served as Trump’s national security adviser for less than a month before being fired, supposedly for lying to Vice President Pence about conversations he had with Russian ambasssador Sergey Kislyak before Trump took office.
Flynn lied because someone leaked the substance of highly sensitive NSA intercepts to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.
(The leak was illegal and if anyone other than a senior government official had shared an NSA intercept anyone other than a friendly reporter, they would have been investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The leaker and Ignatius did not suffer the consequences that whistleblowers have endured.)
Ignatius’s January 12, 2017 column put the Team Trump on the defensive even before the president-elect took took office. Flynn denied to Pence–and later to the FBI–that he had talked to the Russians about their response to sanctions imposed by outgoing President Obama for Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election. In a surprise move, the Russians did not retaliate with sanctions of their own.
In the key paragraph of the memo, the key words are “request” and “material.”
The defendant’s false statements to the FBI about (i) his contacts with a Russian government emissary, (ii) the requests he conveyed to the Russian government through that emissary, and (iii) Russia’s response to those requests, were material to the FBI’s investigation into the nature of any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.
So Flynn originally lied and did not disclose the nature of the request or the Russian response. Now Mueller credits Flynn with telling the truth, and thus deserves leniency in sentencing.
The most logical conclusion is that Flynn provided material evidence about the request and the response, ie a deal.
The memo does not mention it but Jared Kushner was deeply involved in the events leading up to that meeting. He and Flynn met with Russian Ambassador Kislyak on December 1, 2016. That was the meeting where Kushner asked if the Russians had a communications at their embassy that “we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn.”
Kushner was looking a communications channel that could not be monitored by the American government. By the end of the month, Russians chose not to take action against the United States after the sanctions were imposed, saying they wanted good relations with the president. What, if anything, did they get in return from Team Trump?
That is the outstanding question. But we now know that Flynn gave Mueller an authoritative answers about “the nature of links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.” Those answers most likely involved Jared Kushner.
Read the Flynn Sentencing Memorandum