At a certain point in the not-too-distant future, the president of the United States is going to feel compelled to assert that he was taken in and duped by Michael Flynn and that he feels betrayed, his feelings are hurt, and that he didn’t know one damn thing about any of it. I can’t see any other way that Trump can get the separation from Flynn that he’ll need to survive in office.
The latest revelation begins with a text message received by someone in the inaugural crowd at 12:11pm on January 20th, 2016.
As President Trump delivered his inaugural address on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in January, his new national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, sent a text to a former business associate telling him that a plan to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East in partnership with Russian interests was “good to go,” according to a witness who spoke with congressional investigators.
Flynn had assured his former associate that U.S. sanctions against Russia would immediately be “ripped up” by the Trump administration, a move that would help facilitate the deal, the associate told the witness.
This was a chance encounter.
According to [Rep. Elijah] Cummings’s letter, the witness said he met Alex Copson, Flynn’s former business associate, at an inaugural event. Copson is the managing director of ACU Strategic Partners, a Washington-based company that Flynn said he advised from April 2015 through June 2016, according to a financial disclosure he filed this August.
The witness told Cummings and committee investigators that Copson shared a text message he had just received from Flynn, who was on stage at the Capitol during Trump’s speech.
Perhaps because of his eyesight or the glare, the witness couldn’t read the text message but he did note the time stamp. Because he was disturbed by the conversation, he took contemporaneous notes. Let’s look at the conversation:
As the president spoke, Flynn reportedly texted Copson that the nuclear project was “good to go,” the witness said Copson told him.
“Mike has been putting everything in place for us,” Copson said, according to the witness, adding: “This is going to make a lot of very wealthy people.”
Trump had been president for eleven minutes and was still delivering his speech, but the thing on Michael Flynn’s mind was how wealthy he was going to make his former client. Apparently, he had been “putting everything in place” for a while, and part of that was obviously that he was going to make sure that the sanctions on Russia would be removed.
“Mr. Copson explained that General Flynn was making sure that sanctions would be ‘ripped up’ as one of his first orders of business and that this would allow money to start flowing into the project,” Cummings wrote.
Cummings is only the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, so he can’t do anything with this information by himself. The chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, refuses to subpoena this witness, but it no longer matters.
[Robert] Mueller’s office was aware of the witness’s account and asked Cummings not to release the information until the special counsel had taken “certain investigative steps,” which are now complete, Cummings wrote.
Flynn is now a cooperating witness and may have been cooperating for a little longer than we know. The text has presumably been preserved and Flynn has to explain it. If he indicates that Trump was witting about his activities, that’s an impeachable offense, but it’s possible that Trump knew nothing about what Flynn was doing.
What Trump won’t be able to do is say he is or was “okay” with Flynn’s activities. He’s going to have to backtrack on his assessment of Flynn and whether or not he is a “good man.” He probably won’t want to continue to say that he “feels bad” for Flynn.
Whether it’s true or not, he’s going to need to say that Flynn took advantage of him.