After Flynn Plea Deal, where does Mueller Next stand? : NPR



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Michael Flynn, former President Trump's national security adviser, arrives for his guilty plea hearing on December 1, 2017 before a federal court in Washington, D.C.

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Michael Flynn, former President Trump's national security adviser, arrives for his guilty plea hearing on December 1, 2017 before a federal court in Washington, D.C.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

This week in Russia's investigations: Flynn makes a deal … What other domino could fall? … Donald Trump Jr. has another appointment on Capitol Hill.

The lost middle act

The special adviser of the Department of Justice, Robert Mueller, is saying that Russian history is out of order. First came Act 1, presented a month ago: Russian agents prevented the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump in early 2016. Then, on Friday, Mueller revealed Law 3: Then, national security adviser Mike Flynn actively coordinated the policy with Russia at the end of 2016., while he and the nascent administration were preparing to take power.

Now the question is: What happened in Law 2?

There is already a lot of material in judicial documents, testimonies of Congress and press reports. People in the Trump camp met or communicated with foreigners and knew about Russian offers of help and meetings with senior officials. The Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence publicly confirmed on October 7, 2016 that Russia had been conducting a cyber campaign against the US. UU., And since then the extent of the clandestine and manifest aspects of the Russian effort have been revealed. 19659012] Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI “/>

But was there ever a formal quid that caused Flynn's discussions with the then Russian ambbadador to amount to a pro quo? That was the question posed by Flynn's guilty plea on Friday, in which he admitted to lying to the FBI about his talks with the Russian ambbadador at the end of December 2016.

Flynn consulted with the Flynn team. Trump's transition to ask then-ambbadador Sergey Kislyak will not retaliate against the US. UU After the Obama administration expelled several Russian spies and imposed other sanctions in retaliation for the Moscow attack on the 2016 elections. Trump had campaigned to improve relations with Russia and after Russian President Vladimir Putin, he did not expel an equal number of Americans, Trump called him on Twitter .

So, was this the culmination of months of work? together behind the scenes? Or did the Russians who met after the election with Flynn and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, only say something like, "We help your boy win, what are you going to do for us?" Or was there some high-level coordination beyond the spasmodic examples documented in the press so far?

That's the incomplete part of the story. And, DC is in suspense waiting.

A village is needed

The court documents related to Flynn make clear several things: First, Flynn was consulting with the staff of the transition team all the time about his conversations with foreign officials, including Russia. So he was not acting on his own as Trump said for the first time, although Trump also said he approved of Flynn's activities when he found out what they were .

  Logan Act Lingers for others in Russia probes, as all eyes look up The Trump Ladder

Second, the documents state that there was more to Flynn's list of things to do than the bilateral relationship between the United States and Russia. He was also talking to other foreign powers about a forthcoming vote at the United Nations in an attempt to undermine the Obama administration, which was still in power. And someone familiar with the matter told NPR's Carrie Johnson that nobody "ordered" that effort: Flynn, Kushner, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus were working on it at the same time. That could violate a law that prohibits Americans who are not in power from negotiating on behalf of the United States, although it is one of those strange old laws for which no rapist has been imprisoned.

Third, Flynn's court documents confirm that Flynn signed his plea agreement only on Thursday, just one day before his appearance in court on Friday. The history of the special lawyer's investigation is very much developed in real time, before the eyes of the public. Then, in a certain sense, Flynn's plea restarts the clock in the mess, or changes it to a new phase. Now Mueller has the cooperation of a witness who was on Trump's right hand for 2016 and in the administration, someone who is presumably willing to say everything he knows as part of his plea agreement.

The Man Who Disappears

The news of Flynn is dangerous to other people in Trump's camp, especially Kushner, who remains in the White House. If Kushner, under his own authority, ordered Flynn to make arrangements with the Russians as part of a quid pro quo, that could be bad. If Kushner was Trump's messenger, that could make things worse for the administration.

Before the news of Flynn, one of the great stories of Russia during the week was the confirmation that Kushner had spoken with Mueller's investigators. But maybe because of that, or because the White House knew what to expect from Mueller on Friday, Kushner's actions within the White House had already been working.

  Kushner questioned by Special Counsel Advocate

The New York Times and The Washington Post released two recent salvoes that described a diminished role for Kushner from his initial mandate to do … everything. In fact, the Times raised the possibility that he, his wife and Trump's daughter, Ivanka, would resign from Washington, DC, in the coming months and return full-time to New York City ( a prospect of Kushner himself denied speaking Message )

White House chief aide Jared Kushner attends bilateral meetings held by President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on November 9 of 2017 in Beijing, China. Trump is on a 10-day trip to Asia.

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White House Chief Advisor Jared Kushner attends bilateral meetings held by President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on November 9, 2017, in Beijing, China. Trump is on a 10-day trip to Asia.

Pool / Getty Images

That was before Flynn converted the state evidence, however, and now that he's cooperating, the researchers could have many more questions for Kushner and others.

Guess Who's Back

In the midst of all the last-minute uprising, Donald Trump Jr. has an appointment in Washington next week for a round of questions with the House Intelligence Committee. It will be at least his second visit to the Capitol to meet with members of Congress; He ventured for the last time from New York to meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee in September.

Trump Jr. has some of the best-known connections so far by foreigners involved in Russia's 2016 attack on the elections. He accepted what he described as an offer of help from the Russian government and convened a meeting with a Russian delegation at Trump Tower in June 2016. He acknowledged communicating with WikiLeaks, which disclosed stolen material in Russian cyber attacks to great effect during the 2016 presidential race. .

  Find out more about Trump-Russia Imbroglio

What does Trump Jr. say about all this? This: "Keep coming to me guys!"

The president's eldest son is outspoken on social media and has been making campaign-style personal appearances, including one for which he received $ 100,000, as reported by Drew Harwell for Washington Post. If Trump Jr. is concerned about legal problems because of the actions he has acknowledged, or other things that are still unknown, he is not showing it. He insists that he has not done anything wrong.

Lawyers say he intends to continue cooperating with congressional investigators and others, but if the past is a guide, do not expect a great show of dogs and pony. The last time Trump Jr. was in the Capitol he got in and out without problems.

Briefly

The theory of "chaos" cuts both ways

People in Trump orbit sounded very similar Note when explaining his experience in last year's election campaign: It was frantic, frantic and they could barely stand. In some cases, it was the first time in a presidential campaign. Therefore, if they could have participated in meetings or have communications that critics call suspicious in retrospect, everything was blurred.

What does that mean? As a legal expert told NPR, the question of how effective the defense of chaos in court can be depends largely on the possible charges that prosecutors may present.

  & # 39; Chaos & # 39; It is the core of Trump Camp's defense. But it can cut in both directions

The federals only warned a handful of cyber-victims

The FBI did not notify "scores" of US officials and others who were being attacked by cyber attacks from the Russian government, Raphael Satter, Jeff Donn and Desmond Butler report for the Associated Press. Russian spy agencies launched a comprehensive cyberattack against approximately one thousand targets as of 2015.

What does it mean? The story underscored what has been called the careless response to the Russian campaign by the Obama administration in general and the specific, individual charges of nincompoopery against the FBI. There could be more embarrbadment depending on what House committees led by Republicans discover as they continue or begin investigations into FBI behavior last year.

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