What’s Going on With Mike Flynn?

(FILES): This December 21, 2016 file photo shows US President-elect Donald Trump (L) with with Trump National Security Adviser designate Lt. General Michael Flynn (R) at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. The White H... (FILES): This December 21, 2016 file photo shows US President-elect Donald Trump (L) with with Trump National Security Adviser designate Lt. General Michael Flynn (R) at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. The White House announced February 13, 2017 that Michael Flynn has resigned as President Donald Trump's national security advisor, amid escalating controversy over his contacts with Moscow. In his formal resignation letter, Flynn acknowledged that in the period leading up to Trump's inauguration: "I inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador." Trump has named retired lieutenant general Joseph Kellogg, who was serving as a director on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as acting national security advisor, the White House said. / AFP / JIM WATSON / XGTY (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images) MORE LESS
May 18, 2019 1:04 p.m.

This has just bubbled up in the last day. But this news about Mike Flynn and top House Trumper Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is something to watch closely. The gist is that twice after he became a cooperator with the Mueller probe, Flynn direct messaged Gaetz on Twitter, basically giving him a big thumbs up for his attacks on the Mueller probe. So he’s cooperating with the probe and also furtively encouraging public attacks on the probe. In April of 2018, for instance, just after Gaetz appeared on Lou Dobbs’ show with a standard anti-Mueller rant, Flynn DM’d him: “You stay on top of what you’re doing. Your leadership is so vital for our country now. Keep the pressure on.”

This raises the obvious question of whether Flynn was at once cooperating, even to the extent of bringing investigators voice mail messages of Trump associates or lawyers reaching out to try to influence his testimony, but also encouraging others keeping up a public drumbeat against the probe. This would not be terribly surprising. Flynn appeared to maximally cooperate and then went into his sentencing hearing earlier this year and tried to suggest he’d in some way been set up by the FBI. The judge in the case went ballistic and almost threw the book at Flynn before agreeing to delay his sentencing. So the idea that Flynn was playing both sides and perhaps holding out on investigators is not that surprising. We’ve actually already seen some evidence of it.

But here’s what really has my attention – something the news reports haven’t much focused on. Where did these DMs come from? The Politico report says it is “unclear if Mueller was aware of Flynn’s outreach to lawmakers.” That suggests pretty clearly that they don’t come from the Special Counsel’s Office. Indeed, they suggest a bit more than that. It’s not just that the SCO didn’t leak them, which would be out of character, as we know. The texts/DMs must also not come from people who had some view into the SCO investigation – like a defense lawyer or grand jury witness or perhaps someone else at the Justice Department who had some knowledge of what the SCO knew.

It also really doesn’t seem like they came from Flynn. This is not helpful for Flynn in any way. The most obvious conclusion is they came from Gaetz, who has access to his own Twitter DMs. He did answer questions from both organizations, though of course neither says whether Gaetz was the source of them.

So why would Gaetz do this? One conceivable explanation is that people around Trump are now trying to discredit Flynn, which would raise a lot of questions. Another possibility is this. My understanding of the chain of events here is that the judge in Flynn’s case released those newly-unredacted court documents which showed that people from Congress had been trying to reach out to Flynn to affect his testimony. It was only after that revelation that this Gaetz stuff emerged.

It certainly seems plausible that Gaetz saw that information was going to come out about Flynn’s communications with members of Congress and decided to or was advised to get out ahead of the story. Or perhaps he wanted to show that, at least in his case, it was Flynn reaching out to him rather than vice versa.

I have no deeper evidence in reserve that is shaping these hypotheticals. I’m simply drawing what I think are reasonable inferences from the information you can see as well as I can in these published articles. But this bears close watching – both for new evidence of some possible double game Flynn was playing and as well as who’s leaking information now and why.

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