-- Michael Flynn’s guilty plea opens more doors than it closes.
That should scare White House officials as they hunker down for an investigation that’s inching ever closer to the Oval Office – and still looks like it’s nowhere near completion.
Yet, that’s the least of White House worries at the moment.
The retired Army general has promised his “full coordination” with the Mueller investigation, ABC News is reporting. Flynn is prepared to testify that Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians, in the context of plans to defeat ISIS.
This is a game-changing development with far-reaching implications.
White House attorney Ty Cobb sought to minimize the import of today’s news. He said in a statement that Flynn held a job under the president for only 25 days – after which he was fired for the same lies the FBI caught him on.
“Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn,” Cobb said in a statement. “The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel's work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”
But it’s not nearly that simple.
Flynn then became Trump’s national security adviser despite concerns conveyed repeatedly to Trump that he was either untrustworthy or potentially compromised by the Russians. He was fired only after it became clear that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about the very contacts with the Russian ambassador he also is now admitting lying to the FBI about.
That action in itself could have been illegal, owing to a centuries-old law prohibiting private citizens from negotiating on behalf of the United States with foreign entities. Flynn isn’t being charged in connection with the Logan Act.
He also isn’t being charged with anything connected to the failure to properly register his lobbying work on behalf of foreign governments.
His son, Michael Flynn Jr., also is not currently facing any charges, despite widespread reporting of his travels abroad with his father, and his connections to his lobbying business.
What’s being left out by prosecutors could indicate what Flynn is able to bring to Mueller’s table. There’s also the intriguing matter of Trump’s intense interest in the Flynn case.
Back in March, when Flynn was in negotiations with Congress to provide testimony, his lawyer hinted that he had much to say.
"General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit,” the lawyer, Robert Kelner, said at the time.
Circumstances now permit Flynn to tell his story – to the special counsel whose inquiry started with Russia and appears to have expanded from there.
This should scare Trump allies about the weeks and months ahead.