New White House Strategy Is Bad News for Michael Flynn

Trump's legal team reportedly ready to cast him as a liar
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2017 11:42 AM CST
New White House Strategy Is Bad News for Michael Flynn
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The White House is reportedly considering a shift in strategy toward Michael Flynn, and it's one that Flynn will not be happy about. The Washington Post reports that President Trump's legal team plans to cast the former national security adviser as as liar if he implicates anybody in the administration as part of the Robert Mueller investigation. Trump has repeatedly defended Flynn publicly, but now that Flynn has struck a plea deal and is cooperating with Mueller, those days might well be over. More details and developments:

  • 'He's a liar': The new White House strategy will use Flynn's own admission to Mueller that he lied to FBI investigators to cast doubt on his credibility, according to the Post story. "He's said it himself: He's a liar," one insider tells the newspaper.
  • Flynn's family: Flynn's brother, Joseph, has a different idea of how this can play out. "About time you pardoned General Flynn who has taken the biggest fall for all of you given the illegitimacy of this confessed crime in the wake of all this corruption," he tweeted to President Trump. The tweet was quickly deleted, but Joseph Flynn confirmed to Newsweek that he posted it, adding, "Maybe he's listening."

  • What to expect: Now that the White House has signaled its intent to go after Flynn, expect conservative allies to follow suit, writes Paul Waldman in an analysis at the Washington Post. He predicts Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and others will now start publicly flaying Flynn, because the shift on Flynn "is both a legal strategy and a public relations strategy, and chances are that Trump is much more concerned about the latter."
  • Skeptic: At New York, Margaret Hartmann runs through Trump's many public defenses of his former aide, in which he has generally depicted Flynn as an honorable man who is being railroaded. "Suddenly accusing Flynn of being a deceitful opportunist the moment he says something negative about Trump isn’t a very convincing strategy," she writes, but the White House "might not have a better option."
  • Pardon risky: Despite his brother's plea, Flynn probably shouldn't bank on a quick pardon because that would be legally risky for the president and his team, writes Kimberly Atkins at the Boston Herald. "A pardon would strip Flynn of his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, meaning he could be forced to testify against Trump, Jared Kushner or others who are under Mueller’s lens."
  • Encryption app: Gizmodo reports that Flynn may have used Signal, an encrypted messaging app, before his controversial communications with the Russian ambassador. The General Services Administration, the agency that oversees presidential transitions, approved the installation of the app as a security measure, though it's unclear whether Flynn actually used it. Messages on the app self-destruct, raising the possibility "that sensitive conversations pertaining to Flynn’s communication with Russian officials may be forever unobtainable," writes Dell Cameron.
(More Michael Flynn stories.)

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