The first big resignation of Donald Trump’s presidency was the departure of Michael Flynn, the White House national security adviser who didn’t even last a month on the job. After his departure, Flynn was indicted for lying to the FBI about his foreign contacts, including his communications with Russia.
Yesterday, of course, was the day Mueller was scheduled to file materials with a federal court, detailing Flynn’s misdeeds, his level of cooperation, and the kind of sentencing the special counsel believes the former White House official should receive. As you probably saw Rachel explain on the show, Mueller explained that Flynn has been cooperating to the special counsel’s satisfaction and should therefore serve no prison time.
But one of the overarching questions is what, exactly, Flynn has been cooperating about. If you’ve read last night’s court filings, you’ve no doubt noticed an astonishing number of redactions. And while the black bars are frustrating for those of us who want answers, former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said something on the show last that stood out for me:
“I think there are a couple of things that are disclosed even in the heavily redacted form that we see. Number one, the fact that they met 19 times. That is a huge number of meetings, and suggests that Michael Flynn has shared an awful lot of information with the special counsel.
“The other thing you pointed out, by going through the redactions in the addendum, it looks like there’s not just one, but three separate investigations that Michael Flynn has cooperated about, the special counsel investigation. And then one that’s partly redacted but says criminal investigation. And a third that’s completely redacted.
“And if you say criminal investigation, is that in contrast with something else that’s in that third investigation? Is it not criminal? Is it something else? Is it a civil investigation? Or is it a counter intelligence investigation?”
It’s an important detail. We’ve known for a while that Flynn has been cooperating with Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 elections; we didn’t know until last night that Flynn has also been providing information on two other investigations.
What’s more, while we have no idea what those other two are – one was described as “criminal,” the description of the other was redacted altogether – there’s a limited universe of controversies that could fit the bill. Why? Because Flynn was only in the White House for a few weeks, which means he could only provide insights into developments (a) from the Trump campaign; (b) from the Trump transition; and (c) from the first few weeks of the Trump presidency.
Also note that in the court filings, Mueller lists the three investigations Flynn has helped with, and he lists the special counsel’s investigation second. In other words, Mueller decided to mention one of the other investigations in this court filing before his own.
The special counsel last night tipped his hand, but just a little. If Trump and his lawyers aren’t nervous, they’re not paying close enough attention.