Writing in Forbes.com, Professor Charles Tiefer says that to understand the significance of former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s offer to speak with House and Senate investigators in exchange for immunity from prosecution, “one must follow Flynn’s suspicious, if not downright criminal, trail.”
“It then becomes apparent why Flynn may well offer to tell ‘what President Trump knew and when he knew it’ about allegations of Russian coordination with the Trump campaign,” Tiefer wrote in “Flynn’s Pursuit of Immunity Means He May be Willing to Tell All About Trump and Russia” (March 30).
Flynn’s offer was rebuffed late last month by congressional investigators looking into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. The investigators were unwilling to strike a deal with Flynn until they were farther along in their work and better understood what information Flynn might provide, according to news reports.
Flynn resigned the top national security post in February after it was revealed that he had misled officials about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. It later emerged that Flynn had served as an unregistered agent for the government of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan while working as a campaign adviser to Donald Trump.
Tiefer, who served as general counsel (acting) for the U.S. House of Representatives and for its Senate counterpart for 15 years, discusses reports that Flynn brought former CIA Director James Woolsey to a meeting with representatives of Turkey’s government to discuss “hypothetical plans” to abduct Turkish dissident Fethullah Gulen from his home in Pennsylvania. Erdogan has been unsuccessful in his attempts to extradiate Gulen legally from the U.S.
“With this background, what might the immunity request mean?” Tiefer asked. “It is entirely possible for a witness to seek immunity when faced with Crime #1 but to dangle before the committees [the possibility] that he will tell all about Matter #2.”
Crime #1 is likely to be Flynn’s paid work for Erdogan, Tiefer said, adding, “[Flynn] needs immunity to muddy up any effort to get him for his work as an unregistered Turkish agent.”
But, Tiefer continued, that is not really what Flynn is offering the intelligence committees, which are not particularly interested in a plot against a Turkish dissident.
Rather, Tiefer said, Flynn would offer the committees information about whether the Trump campaign worked with Russian officials in their efforts to damage the candidacy of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
As for Trump, Tiefer said, Flynn might answer the famous Watergate question about President Richard Nixon: “What did he know and when did he know it?”