Ty Cobb, the Beltway lawyer brought to the White House to handle the Russia investigation, predicted in August that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would be done with his work by Thanksgiving: “I’d be embarrassed if this is still haunting the White House by Thanksgiving and worse if it’s still haunting him by year end.”
But on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Mueller brought down former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. And he’s not done.
Flynn pled guilty to two counts of lying to the FBI, concerning his conversations during the presidential transition with the Russian ambassador. The conversations themselves were legal; lying about them to the FBI was not.
The conversations were picked up in “routine” surveillance of Russian officials; Flynn’s name was later unmasked and leaked, illegally, to the media (a crime that somehow has not yet been prosecuted or even, perhaps, investigated).
ABC News reports that Flynn “is prepared to testify that Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians, initially as a way to work together to fight ISIS in Syria.” That is not illegal, and may even have been a good idea. (Barack Obama’s campaign actually sent officials to Russia in the middle of the 2008 campaign.) The report seems confused as to when Trump gave Flynn that order — i.e. whether as a candidate, or as president-elect.
Still, Flynn’s decision to cooperate with Mueller means that the White House now faces immediate legal danger — not so much from the substance of the allegations, but from the kind of “process crimes” to which Flynn pleaded guilty.
At the very least, Ty Cobb and his colleagues are going to be on the defensive for many months — certainly through most of 2018, if not longer. Most of it will have nothing to do with Russia. But it is not going to disappear.
On Friday, reacting to the news of Flynn’s guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with Mueller, Cobb released a bizarre statement in which he called Flynn “a former Obama administration official” — as if Flynn had not also been Trump’s top national security adviser, and his warmup speaker at nearly every campaign rally in the fall of 2016.
Cobb added: “The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”
That is beyond wishful thinking. It is borderline delusion.
Flynn’s future testimony might not stand up in court, given that he will have been convicted of lying. But the information he provides will help Mueller hound anyone and everyone in the Trump orbit, in pursuit of the swamp’s political revenge.
And this is only the beginning.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.