Michael Flynn at Donald Trump Rally, Phoenix, Arizona,
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore) Michael Flynn at Trump Rally

Michael Flynn, a former senior adviser to Donald Trump, pled guilty Friday to lying to FBI agents. Flynn had lied to agents about his conversations with the Russian ambassador about US sanctions.

Compared to other serious charges Flynn was facing, the accusations of lying seem less weighty.  In Flynn’s defense, someone close to Trump tried to argue that “everyone lies in Washington.”

The culture of lying to the press and colleagues may be widespread in Washington DC, particularly in the Trump era. However, lying to federal agents is stupid.

It’s surprising that Flynn thought he could get away with his lies.  After all, he is no DC novice. Rather, he has been an intelligence and DC veteran.

Michael Flynn: Rise, Fall, Rise, Fall

Before entering the world of politics, Michael Flynn had spent his career in military intelligence. He rose to high positions within defense intelligence, culminating in his appointment as chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

At the DIA, Flynn’s tenure did not last long. The Obama administration, troubled by his management style and penchant for stretching the truth, forced him out.

Once out of office, Flynn’s distaste for Democrats and negative views on Islam drew him to Republican Trump. He rose quickly to be one of Trump’s most senior advisers.

After Trump’s election, Flynn became National Security Adviser.  Within a few weeks, he was out for having “misled the vice president and others” about the Russia conversations.

Michael Flynn and Russia

Here’s the question that emerges from Michael Flynn’s deal with Robert Mueller’s team Friday.  Who from the Trump team asked Flynn to engage in substantive talks with the Russian ambassador?

Normally, foreign policy advisers to Presidential candidates talking with foreign diplomats should be routine. However, under US law, these private citizens cannot influence policy.

What emerges from Flynn’s admissions is evidence that the Trump team did attempt to influence Russian policy on two matters. First, on Russian reactions to US sanctions; and second, on a United Nations vote on Israeli settlements.

According to Flynn, he initiated these conversations at the direction of “a senior official/a very senior member” of Trump’s transition team. Who was this senior official/member?

That senior official/member might well be in danger of being locked up.

Michael Flynn Needs to Change Chant

Looking at the Trump transition team, one sees few foreign policy heavyweights who could direct Flynn. Two with pretensions to international experience are Jeff Sessions and Rudy Giuliani.  Both presumably would know to avoid instructing Flynn to have such conversations.

That leaves three intriguing possibilities: all in the Trump family. Apart from Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr., there is also Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.  I can only see Flynn taking directions from one of these three.

At the July 2016 Republican National Convention, Michael Flynn led a raucous crowd in a chant of “Lock Her Up.” This was a reference to the allegations against Hillary Clinton for her e-mail misdeeds.

With Friday’s plea agreement, Flynn will have to change his chant. In effect, he may now have to say “Lock him up.” The “him” would be a richer prize for Mueller, if the “him” is Trump or his son or son-in-law.

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