The documents provided at Michael Flynn’s sentencing hearing are literally opaque—as in, large sections of the documents have been blacked out to prevent any details of Flynn’s cooperation with the special counsel from being revealed. It’s clear that Flynn cooperated on at least four different matters, including at least one that is being investigated by some entity other than the special counsel’s office. However, due to all that slathered on black ink, it’s not possible to say exactly what information Flynn shared other than a few items concerning the transition team.
The nature of the documents leaves a lot of room for speculation, and one phrase in one sentence in the document has generated a ripple of excitement. That phrase is the mention that Flynn’s cooperation may include “participating in covert law enforcement activities.” That’s because the term “covert” in this context generally means wearing a wire and recording a conversation.
As Raw Story reports, that realization earned gasps on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and it’s generated a flurry of dropped jaws and rubbed hands across the social media landscape. But … is it possible? Could Michael Flynn’s cooperation with Robert Mueller have included chatting about criminal activity with Donald Trump or others?
Technically … yes. Washington, D.C. is a “one party” area when it comes to regulations on recording a phone conversation. That is, the person making the recording isn’t required to have the permission of the person on the other end. But that does mean that it has to be Michael Flynn making the recording, not Robert Mueller. And even Flynn doing it for Mueller would be suspect.
And then there’s the matter of this timeline. Here are some fun events on the Trump-Flynn calendar:
Nov. 10, 2016: President Obama warns Trump not to hire Flynn for anything “sensitive.” Nov. 18, 2016: Trump names Flynn as National Security Advisor. Flynn accepts. Jan. 4, 2017: Flynn informs Trump’s legal team that he is under investigation. Jan. 20, 2017: Trump takes office. He named Flynn as NSA on the same day. Jan. 24, 2017: FBI interviews Flynn. Jan. 26, 2017: Sally Yates warns White House that Flynn is “compromised.” Feb. 13, 2017: Flynn resigns as NSA on the excuse that he “misled” Mike Pence. Feb. 14, 2017: Trump asked James Comey to “let Flynn go.” Nov. 23, 2017: Flynn’s legal team ends joint defense agreement with Trump’s team. Dec. 1, 2017: Robert Mueller announces indictment and plea agreement with Flynn.
The idea that Trump would have talked to Flynn about anything of consequence after he broke off the joint defense deal would seem to require a serious level of idiocy—which doesn’t rule it out.
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