Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Flynn’s big flip: The general doesn’t know much but the move increases pressures

The news that Michael Flynn has asked for immunity in exchange for testifying before Congress is interesting, but there may be less to it than meets the eye.

A scene from 'In the Clutches of the Gang', a Keystone Cops silent comedy directed by George Nichols and Mack Sennett. Left to right : Ford Sterling (on phone), Edgar Kennedy, George Jeskey, Al St John, Hank Mann, Rube Miller, and Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle (1887 - 1933).   (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A scene from 'In the Clutches of the Gang', a Keystone Cops silent comedy directed by George Nichols and Mack Sennett. Left to right : Ford Sterling (on phone), Edgar Kennedy, George Jeskey, Al St John, Hank Mann, Rube Miller, and Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle (1887 - 1933). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A scene from 'In the Clutches of the Gang', a Keystone Cops silent comedy directed by George Nichols and Mack Sennett. Left to right : Ford Sterling (on phone), Edgar Kennedy, George Jeskey, Al St John, Hank Mann, Rube Miller, and Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle (1887 - 1933). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The news that retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has asked for immunity in exchange for testifying before Congress is interesting, but there may be less to it than meets the eye. He is a naïve guy who may not know much about the heart of what went on.

Flynn, the only person fired by both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, was, I think, always on the periphery of the real Russian involvement, which was the flow of funds from Russia to various Trump enterprises. I think that flow was one reason Trump feels he can’t release his very complex tax returns. (By the way, on the WhiteHouse.gov site, more than a million people have signed the “We the People” petition asking him to do so.)

The consequences of Flynn’s move are two-fold, I think:

The news that retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has asked for immunity in exchange for testifying before Congress is interesting, but there may be less to it than meets the eye. He is a naïve guy who may not know much about the heart of what went on.

Flynn, the only person fired by both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, was, I think, always on the periphery of the real Russian involvement, which was the flow of funds from Russia to various Trump enterprises. I think that flow was one reason Trump feels he can’t release his very complex tax returns. (By the way, on the WhiteHouse.gov site, more than a million people have signed the “We the People” petition asking him to do so.)

The consequences of Flynn’s move are two-fold, I think:

— It underscores the need for a serious investigation by either a special counsel or select committee. The Nunes clown show brings discredit upon Congress.

— It obviously increases pressure on others to consider following Flynn’s example.

But right now it is like a situation where the bad guys want to turn themselves in to the police but there’s no one sitting at the station desk.

Question for a JAG out there: Is Flynn’s military pension at risk somehow if he doesn’t have immunity and later has criminal problems? (I wonder if he was completely candid with the FBI, for example.) But I don’t see why — this is all stuff that occurred while he has been retired, no?

Photo credit: HULTON ARCHIVE/Getty Images/Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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