Michael Flynn has officially pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his pre-inauguration contacts with foreign governments. The question now is who is “the very senior member” of the Trump transition team cited in the charging documents who told Flynn to reach out to the Russians?
The leading candidates: Jared Kushner or Trump himself. Bloomberg, BuzzFeed News and NBC News are all reporting that Kushner directly ordered Flynn to contact foreign officials on matters including Russian sanctions and a United Nations vote on Israeli settlements. ABC News and Fox News are reporting that Trump himself ordered Flynn to contact the Russians.
As part of his plea agreement with the team of Special Counsel Bob Mueller, Flynn is reportedly prepared to testify about who ordered his foreign contacts. If that testimony implicates Trump, it would make Flynn the star witness in an obstruction of justice case that would include Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey, according to former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman.
And that’s wheere things start looking grim for Trump.
“Obstruction is plainly an impeachable offense: It’s the offense for which Richard Nixon was threatened with impeachment,” Litman wrote in a Friday New York Times op-ed. “For months, it has seemed the possible culminating charge of the Mueller investigation, a straightforward and readily understandable ‘high crime or misdemeanor.’”
There are other officials in Trump’s orbit who have yet to be officially charged. And the prime suspect for the next set of charges is Jared Kushner, who in December 2016 reportedly attempted to establish a “back channel” line of communication to the Russian government. And given Kushner’s profile in the White House (and that he has only really ever answered to his father-in-law), Mueller probably has a pretty good idea of who might have pressed Kushner to start talking with foreign leaders.