Senate Intelligence Committee Denies Michael Flynn's Request for Immunity
Update: The Senate Intelligence Committee has reportedly denied Michael Flynn's request. One congressional source tells NBC News that immunity is "not on the table"; a second reiterated that the committee is "not receptive" to such a request "at this time."
Just six months after stating on national television that being given immunity is an indicator of guilt, Michael Flynn is trying to broker immunity for himself. On Thursday night, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Flynn has offered to answer questions before FBI, Senate and House investigators in the ongoing probe of Trump’s relationship to Russia. There’s one catch, though: Flynn wants to be sure he can trade his insider knowledge for immunity from prosecution. Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, posted a statement on social media suggesting his client has tantalizing information to share, as long as nothing he says can land him behind bars.
“General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it," Kelner writes in the message, piquing the interest of anyone who’s been watching this scandal factory over the last few months. The open letter goes on to state that counsel for all involved parties have been in discussion as they search for mutually agreeable terms. In the meantime, Flynn’s offer remains outstanding.
“[T]he media are awash with unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo directed against him,” Kelner states. “He is now the target of unsubstantiated public demands by Members of Congress and other political critics that he be criminally investigated. No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution.”
In September 2016, Flynn provided a hardline view on immunity, equating it with a tacit admission of guilt, at least when Hillary Clinton was the one being given immunity. "I mean, five people around her have had, have been given immunity to include her chief of staff," Flynn said on Meet the Press. "When you are given immunity, that means you have probably committed a crime."
WATCH: Last September, General Flynn told @chucktodd: "When you're given immunity that probably means you've comm… https://t.co/T0WRPagdMw— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@Yashar Ali 🐘) 1490918150.0
Flynn’s short stint in the White House ended when he resigned in February, just a month into Trump’s tenure. The lieutenant general stepped down after it was revealed he’d discussed sanctions with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. The party line according to the Trump White House was that Flynn never mentioned the content of those conversations to Vice President Mike Pence. It's unclear why Flynn would go rogue, bringing up these matters without being directed to by Trump or Pence, but that's their story and they're sticking to it.
It’s worth noting, based on this information, that the Trump administration is exceptionally uninformed about the ties between its members and adversarial powers, considering that a number of its members are embroiled in similar Russia-tied scandals. That trio—Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, policy adviser Carter Page and on-again, off-again adviser Roger Stone—have all signaled their willingness to testify before the Senate and House.
Flynn served briefly in the Obama administration before being forced out. A Wall Street Journal report notes that Flynn’s “management style could be chaotic and that the scope of his plans met resistance from both superiors and subordinates.” The article seems to suggest that Flynn’s biggest problem was his personality. Asked how he would deal with employees who didn’t enthusiastically embrace his plans, he reportedly stated he would “move them or fire them.”
Flynn revealed himself as an unabashed Islamophobe with a February 2016 tweet stating that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL,” and by the fact that he was hired by the Trump White House. The lieutenant general also promoted a tweet that read “Not anymore, Jews,” and praised a book by vocal alt-rightie Mike Cernovich. Along with his son, Flynn also helped add fuel to the fire of the fake Pizzagate scandal. You can watch him in the video enthusiastically leading a Republican National Convention chant of "Lock her up."