By Anne Howard and Brandon Hinojos
It’s been quite a day. Today, Lt. General Michael T. Flynn, the former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, White House national security adviser, pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI along with other offenses and reached a deal with the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, investigating the Russian propaganda campaign in the U.S. 2016 elections. This isn’t the first time Flynn was caught lying red-handed. He was relieved of his position at the White House for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his involvement with Russia.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), an ex officio member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, believes that these new revelations damage the credibility of the Trump Administration even further. Reed felt that this strengthens the drawn-out argument that Trump has been working against the interests of the American people. He issued a statement following the Flynn indictment and criminal investigation of Russia meddling in the U.S. election:
This is now the fourth senior Trump associate to face federal criminal charges, and second to plead guilty. At some point in the near future, the President himself should answer questions under oath about his role in terms of what he did and what he – or senior members of his team – directed others to do. He owes the American people honest, straightforward answers. We live in the greatest country on earth, and protecting our democracy starts with protecting our elections.
Reed mentioned the irony of Putin and Trump collaborating to rig the election considering the president insisted the probing was nothing more than a ‘witch hunt.’ He urged Trump to be transparent about this because the American public, “deserve the facts…It is an evolving and much-needed criminal investigation.”
The White House tried to distance himself from Flynn, who Trump once described as a “very good guy”, and WH attorney Ty Cobb said in a statement that “nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.” However, not everyone agrees with Cobb’s claim and there is reason to believe more people had a direct involvement.
As alarming as this guilty plea is for Donald Trump and his entourage, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner may be in hot water. It is reported that Kushner called Michael Flynn in December 2016 and instructed him to call members of the UN Security Council with the aim to stop a vote on a resolution critical of Israeli settlement policy. He also failed to disclose a handful of meetings with Russian contacts and conspiring to fire former FBI Director James Comey.
Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s lawyer, told CNN that his client “has voluntarily cooperated with all relevant inquiries and will continue to do so.”
Carl Bernstein, investigative journalist, and author who, with Bob Woodward, was first to disclose information on the Watergate scandal, has been vocal about the Russia-Trump connection. He said earlier this month that the accusations against the president, if proven to be true, could reveal a scandal “worse than Watergate in many, many ways, in the sense that we have a president of the United States who lies about almost everything.” He also mentioned the major difference between Watergate and now is Republicans’ resistance to seriously question the allegations against the president. Upon hearing the news about Flynn’s confession, Bernstein told CNN that “We can put away the fake news charge once and for all after today.”
This is also, today, very much about family, he said. It’s about Flynn, and his son, and Flynn’s fear that his son might be prosecuted. And that’s one of the reasons he was willing to be flipped here. But it’s also about the Trump family. This means that Jared Kushner is at the center of what [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller is looking at. There’s no getting around that.
However, Bernstein added that the seriousness of this is still up in the air. Could this recent ‘Russiagate’ work its way to the top of the food chain or only impact lower levels as seen in the Iran-Contra scandal? If the latter, Kushner could play a similar role as Oliver North did for former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, where a high-level player close to the President took a fall but not the man itself.
Moreover, former chief White House ethics lawyer, Richard Painter, wrote an op-ed on the incident saying that Donald Trump Jr. may be next in line after Kushner. Him and contributing author, Norm Eisen wrote in the New York Times:
Because of Mr. Flynn’s role on the campaign as a trusted member of the inner circle, he may also have a great deal to say about topics like Mr. Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with several Russians, Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner, or about the Trump scion’s contacts with WikiLeaks. If Mr. Flynn’s recollection is not the same as what Trump the Younger told Congress, he is in serious trouble.
Are Kushner and Don Jr. Next? https://t.co/DNjmej1HVT
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) December 1, 2017
Aside from the mess on Capitol Hill, the DOW dropped a whopping 350 points shortly after the incident hit the airwaves. Chief Market Analyst of the Lindsey Group, Peter Boockvar said that this is “potentially the biggest political headache he has to deal with, ” and the initial report by ABC was an “obvious” stepping stone that made the market come tumbling down.
This seems to be a bigger mess than we originally anticipated with far greater consequences. It’s only a matter of time before the entire administration gets called in for much more thorough questioning.
How do you think this is going to impact the public’s opinion of Trump? How will the administration maneuver its way out of this one or is it simply too late? Drop us a note and let us know what you think.
At the time of publishing, Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s lawyer, had not responded to a phone call from the Scope Weekly and an email requesting comment.
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