It’s beginning to look a lot like collusion, everywhere you go. Trump/Pence is better characterized as Liar/Liar. Two ethics chiefs, one from the Bush administration and one from Obama’s, Richard Painter and Norm Eisen, respectively, have penned an op/ed in the wake of Michael Flynn’s plea today and right now it’s even money whether the next to swing high will be Jared Kushner or Donald Trump, Jr. New York Times:
Lest there be any doubt about what is happening, the statement of the offense filed along with Mr. Flynn’s plea shows that he is prepared to testify that the communications that he lied about, concerning conversations with the Russian ambassador in December 2016, were discussed with multiple members of the transition team — including one “senior official” and one “very senior member.” It is not yet clear who those individuals are, but transition officials and members included Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. as well as Vice President Mike Pence, Representative Devin Nunes of California; the former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
It is probably Mr. Kushner who is in greatest jeopardy now. Bloomberg has reported that he is the very senior transition member who directed Mr. Flynn to reach out to Russia. Mr. Kushner has already been questioned by the special counsel and by Congress. If he was one of those officials Mr. Flynn spoke to and he was not honest about it when questioned, he could face similar false statement charges.
Donald Trump Jr.’s exposure is also deepened by the Flynn plea, along similar lines as Mr. Kushner. He might (or might not) be one of the unnamed transition participants Mr. Flynn identified. Moreover, the president’s son has been interviewed at length as a part of congressional investigations, and Mr. Flynn’s testimony could show he was not candid. Because of Mr. Flynn’s role on the campaign as a trusted member of the inner circle, he may also have a great deal to say about topics like Mr. Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with several Russians, Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner, or about the Trump scion’s contacts with WikiLeaks. If Mr. Flynn’s recollection is not the same as what Trump the Younger told Congress, he is in serious trouble.
That’s an interesting thought, but not nearly as interesting as what could happen to the Big Kahuna himself.
Finally, Mr. Flynn’s cooperation could also place Mr. Trump himself in real jeopardy. ABC News has reported that Mr. Flynn will say Mr. Trump “directed him to make contact with the Russians.” If that is so, it opens a Pandora’s box of questions for the president. Is that a reference to the calls about the sanctions, or something else? How many times did Mr. Trump do that, when, and about what? How can we square that with the president’s denials of knowledge about the Flynn contact with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, or any contact with Russia? The possible answers range from bad to worse to fatal for the president.
And here’s music to the ears — forget about this chorus of “presidential pardons” which has been ridiculously ringing through the land in the past several months.
Mr. Trump exposed himself to obstruction of justice liability by exercising his power to fire Mr. Comey for questionable ends. Mr. Trump would incur the same potential liability were he to issue pardons for self-interested or corrupt reasons, and the courts might not recognize their validity. Even lawfully conferred powers wielded by the president cannot be employed corruptly. The same goes for firing Mr. Mueller. The president tried that once with Mr. Comey and it only landed him in hotter water. If he attempts it now, he will find the temperature boiling.
It’s time for a nice glass of mulled wine and to listen to the pitter pat of Trump’s reichdeer on the roof. 2017 looks to be shaping up for a very merry holiday season indeed. With any luck the Trump family may have to have their reunions behind bars.