Michael Flynn Has a Story To Tell

The fact that Michael Flynn has asked for immunity as a precursor to testifying about Russia’s meddling in the election doesn’t tell us much. After all, as T. R. Ramachandran outlined in a long series of tweets, Flynn has been involved in a lot of potentially illegal activities when it comes to the possibility of prosecution. Many of them don’t have anything to do with Russia. Beyond that, most legal experts will tell you that asking for immunity doesn’t always mean what we think it does.

“At this early stage, I wouldn’t read anything into this request beyond smart lawyering,” said Mark Zaid, a Washington lawyer who specializes in national security cases. “In such a politically charged, high-profile national security case, I couldn’t imagine not first asking for immunity.”

It’s also important to note that neither the FBI nor the congressional intelligence committees are jumping on Flynn’s offer right now.

But the congressional official said investigators were unwilling to broker a deal with Mr. Flynn…until they are further along in their inquiries and they better understand what information Mr. Flynn might offer as part of a deal.

The thing that caught my eye is that Flynn’s lawyer said that he “certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it.” It is important to remember that Flynn has a history of being very erratic and that part of the reason he lost his last two jobs and seems to be in so much legal trouble is that he isn’t very well acquainted with the truth. When/if he gets to tell this story, the question will be, “can we believe him?” Here is how the NYT described him when Trump first indicated that Flynn would get the job as his National Security Advisor.

Mr. Trump and General Flynn both see themselves as brash outsiders who hustled their way to the big time. They both post on Twitter often about their own successes, and they have both at times crossed the line into outright Islamophobia.

They also both exhibit a loose relationship with facts: General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States (it is not). His dubious assertions are so common that when he ran the Defense Intelligence Agency, subordinates came up with a name for the phenomenon: They called them “Flynn facts.”

Around the same time Dana Priest wrote a profile on Flynn in which he bragged about breaking rules he thought were stupid. Priest also ran into the topic of “Flynn facts.”

His subordinates [at DIA] started a list of what they called “Flynn facts,” things he would say that weren’t true, like when he asserted that three-quarters of all new cell phones were bought by Africans or, later, that Iran had killed more Americans than Al Qaeda. In private, his staff tried to dissuade him from repeating these lines.

Interestingly enough, the NYT story from back in November pointed out that Flynn also had a long relationship with someone else that we’ve recently learned tends to play fast and loose with the truth.

“He’s an analyst who can get deep into the weeds on the issues and a lot of this stuff and then is very good at playing three-dimensional chess,” said Representative Devin Nunes, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a close confidant to Mr. Flynn.

That “close confidant to Mr. Flynn” is now in charge of one of the committees that is investigating the activities of Flynn and the Trump campaign. It should come as no surprise to anyone at this point that neither of them is terribly trustworthy.

Perhaps the most significant aspect to Flynn’s request for immunity is actually the political hypocrisy it demonstrates. There was that time when, in reference to a Clinton associate, he said that “immunity means you probably committed a crime.” And does anyone else remember this?

That is what happens to liars. Eventually they can’t keep their story straight and their lies come back to haunt them. Now Flynn wants to tell another story. Before I’m ready to hear anything he has to say, I agree with Rep. Schiff. I’d like to hear from someone who is much more familiar with the truth.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.