On Dec. 1, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to two counts of lying to the FBI about conversations he had with Sergey I. Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

The charges, and Flynn’s plea, were part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of “Russian meddling” in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Finally, hard evidence. The Trump campaign really did work with the Russians to fix the election and deprive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of her pre-ordained return to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

But there are big problems with that narrative.

Americans cast their votes for president on Nov. 8, 2016. The Electoral College voted on Dec. 19.

The charges relate to discussions between Flynn and Kislyak on Dec. 22 and Dec. 29. If the two were conspiring to fix the presidential election, they must have been using a time machine. Surely we would have heard about that part if there was anything to it, right?

So, if the incoming national security advisor and the Russian ambassador weren’t conspiring to fix the election, what were they talking about? According to the charges and plea, two things (two things that Flynn lied about, anyway):

First, on Dec. 22, Flynn apparently asked the Russian government to help delay or kill a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in occupied Arab territory.

Secondly, on Dec. 29, Flynn apparently asked the Russian government to refrain from retaliating in kind versus sanctions imposed by the Obama administration.

Flynn lobbied Russia — after the election — on behalf of Israel, and Flynn lobbied Russia — after the election — on behalf of the United States. He pleaded guilty to lying about those two things. He was neither charged with, nor admitted to, colluding with the Russians prior to the election or with an eye toward affecting it.

So no, none of this is evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Rather, it is prosecutorial abuse and extortion. Mueller charged Flynn with “crimes” that shouldn’t be illegal and that are unrelated to the supposed point of the investigation — and probably threatened to also charge his son — in order to “flip” Flynn, get him on Mueller’s side instead of Trump’s side, and thereby possibly make progress toward taking down bigger game.

Nobody owes the FBI the truth. Subjects of investigation have no moral obligation to cooperate in their own prosecution. It’s law enforcement’s job to find evidence, not potential defendants’ job to assist them in doing so. Unless one is under oath in court, no law should compel truthfulness or punish falsehood in talking to the cops.

Did the Russian government meddle in the 2016 presidential election, above and beyond a few weird and likely completely ineffectual social media campaigns? Your guess is as good as mine. So far, the evidence still hasn’t shown up.

But another government, Israel’s, didn’t even bother to hide its meddling. And it took its first installment of payback in having Michael Flynn lobby the Russians on its behalf. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a Special Counsel to investigate that.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

(6) comments

johndoe

Yea, but idiots like Joy Behar took it as gospel and called to "Lock him up!" when they did not have the full story. They then made a half hearted "apology" about reporting "fake news".

ArizAl

If Trump wasn't guilty of anything as he says, then why did he hire outside lawyers? Innocent people don't have the need to go around hiring a battery of lawyers. Trump not only hired lawyers to defend him but he also offered to personally pay for lawyers for his staff and advisors. If Trump is as innocent as he claims, then he would release all his tax returns.Again, if Trump is as innocent as he claims to be why is he not doing everything or anything at all possible to protect our country from cyber attacks on our electoral system from Russia or any other country....that is treason, unpatriotic and siding with our enemies.

ronzim

This more rant from the right wing information silo. The Russian interference in the 2016 election is established fact. What is not yet know is the full extent to which they were successful in their attempts. The author's time-line is of course ludicrous. The Ruskies were dabbling for years. Moreover, it is a felony to lie to the FBI. This author tries fool unwary readers into believing that he is in possession of the full catalogue of information which is only know to Mueller's team.
"All conservatives are not stupid, but all stupid people are conservatives." John Stuart Mill

pxllr

If I were an elected official and was innocent and had nothing to hide, I would welcome an independent investigation to clear my name of all charges. The only reason to fight an investigation as vehemently as Trump does, would be a guilty conscience. The harder he fights the investigation and denies the charges, the guiltier he appears. Also given his 70 year history, none of the accusations are unexpected or a surprise. He regularly cheats contractors and employees out of payments. He has had over 4,000 lawsuits filed against him. He typically settles such suits with large sums of money. Now he has the US Treasury backed by we the taxpayers. So it is like Christmas in a candy store for him!

TN4994

I'm waiting for the esposè on the Anglo-Franco involvement in previous elections.

TN4994

In reference to having a lawyer or lawyers. The way the current justice system is set up, those with money hire the best that money can bribe.

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