The latest in the Mueller investigation is that the Special Counsel is zeroing in on the 18 days between when then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned White House Counsel Don McGahn that Michael Flynn had been compromised and Flynn’s resignation as National Security Adviser.
Slowly but surely, the pieces are starting to fall into place as to what transpired not just in those 18 days, but more importantly, how they relate to what happened a month before, in late December when, we now know, Flynn had several conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak about dropping sanctions that President Obama had imposed after the election.
It appears things went down something like this: Flynn spoke with Kislyak around Christmas about the Obama-imposed sanctions and reported back on those conversations in real time to Trump’s team at Mar-A-Lago. Unbeknownst to Flynn, law enforcement was also listening in on his conversations with Kislyak.
Flynn was interviewed by the FBI on January 24, 2017 and lied about his interactions with Kislyak. Two days later, Yates warned McGahn that Flynn had been compromised by the Russians. The next day, Trump invited Comey to a one-on-one dinner where Trump asked for Comey’s “loyalty.”
About two weeks later, after the Washington Post reported on Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak, Flynn quit under fire, for (allegedly) lying to Mike Pence about his interactions with the Russians. The next day, Trump again had a one-on-one meeting with Comey (after kicking his other advisors out of the room) and asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation now that he had resigned. Comey refused and was fired about three months later.
The most plausible explanation for all this is basically as follows: the Trump team, and probably Trump himself, knew about Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak and Flynn reported back in real time about what they talked about. Sometime after the new year, Flynn found out the FBI wanted to talk to him. Flynn told someone (or someones) about the interview and the decision was made that Flynn would lie to the FBI about his interactions with the Russians, assuming the lie would not be discovered.
Two days after the interview, Yates warned McGahn, who may (or may not) have known about the Christmas week conversations. McGahn warned Trump, who DID know what Flynn was up to and decided to lean on Comey, who demurred. The story leaked to the press a few weeks later, Flynn quit, and Trump tried to get Comey to drop the investigation because he knew it would incriminate him or people close to him.
And that is why Mueller is so focused on those 18 days between Yates’s White House briefing and Flynn’s resignation, because the most plausible explanation for all that went on is that Trump or people very close to him were either aware or told Flynn to lie about his discussions with Kislyak. In other words, Trump or people in his inner circle may have tried to obstruct the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s role in our election and/or to suborn perjury - in short, to break the law. But now, Flynn is a cooperating witness and the true answer will (hopefully) be told.
Reporters sometimes get tripped up because they assume a level of sophistication or subterfuge that just does not exist in the Trump world. These are not smart conspirators, just arrogant ones who thought they would get away with it.
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