Things do not look good for former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. His once-profitable consulting enterprise has been shut down. He is defiantly facing down congressional subpoenas and appears to be a subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing criminal probes. His legal bills are undoubtedly mounting. For a once venerated military officer who seemingly caught lightning in a bottle when he hitched his post-military career to the surprisingly victorious campaign of Donald Trump, this certainly cannot be how he envisioned things would have played out.
New reporting from CNN this morning simply poured salt on Mr. Flynn’s already gaping wounds. In a letter to Mr. Mueller, the ranking members of the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees stated that their review of Mr. Flynn’s 2016 security clearance paperwork had found additional reporting discrepancies. Specifically, they allege Mr. Flynn omitted any reference to a 2015 overseas business trip in which Mr. Flynn engaged for the purpose of brokering a $100 billion deal that involved the Saudi and Russian Governments. Applicants for a security clearance are obligated to report any contacts with foreign government officials within the past seven years, including contacts done in the context of business development. Applicants are also required to report all foreign travel within the past seven years. Deliberate and willful failures to properly report information on U.S. government security paperwork is a felony.
Taken on its own, this omission might be viewed as a one-off. However, if accurate, media reports over the last few months have outlined a plethora of similar reporting omissions by Mr. Flynn. He failed to properly report payments received from foreign entities, failed to properly report an event he was paid to attend honoring Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he had to retroactively register as a foreign agent for Turkey (registration that would have overlapped with his tenure in the White House, if it had been done in a timely manner). These are but a sample of the legal liabilities Mr. Flynn currently faces.
Mr. Flynn is not the only person with problems. Former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is facing significant legal troubles of his own tied to alleged money-laundering issues and foreign agent registration failures. The FBI went so far as to launch a pre-dawn raid of Mr. Manafort’s private residence in order to secure relevant documentation, and Mr. Manafort has already testified in a closed congressional interview. President Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House advisor, Jared Kushner, similarly testified in a closed congressional interview and is facing legal troubles tied to his repeated revisions to his security paperwork and omissions of meetings with prominent Russian nationals.
Unlike Mr. Manafort or Mr. Kushner, however, Mr. Flynn and his legal team have been suspiciously quiet, providing little if any comments to the media. When an ABC News reporter located Mr. Flynn on a beach in Rhode Island and attempted to get a comment about the newest revelations, Mr. Flynn gave an intriguing response: “I’m just having a great time with the family here. I’m doing good, [but] I’m not going to make any comments.”
In all fairness, this could simply be much ado about nothing. Mr. Flynn may have honestly just been trying to keep his head down and enjoy some vacation time, and not wanted to address the media. He would not be the first public figure to want some privacy while on vacation.
What is more likely, however, is that Mr. Flynn sees the writing on the wall and is enjoying free time with his family while he still can. Whether he has already struck a plea deal with Mr. Mueller remains to be seen but it would not be surprising if that were the case. His defiance of the congressional subpoenas would make some measure of sense in that case, as Mr. Flynn’s lawyers would not want to subject him to additional potential liability if they have already made a deal with Mr. Mueller.
In any event, this fall from grace for Mr. Flynn appears to be reaching its inevitable conclusion. Absent intervention by President Trump through a pardon or commutation, it is more and more likely that Mr. Flynn will be serving at least some time in jail in the not-too-distant future.
Oh how the mighty have fallen.