Trump aide seeks immunity in exchange for testimony
In the ongoing saga surrounding Donald Trump’s office and allegations of collusion with Russia, a recent announcement may well prove to be one of the most significant. Accusations of co-operation with Russian intelligence services in order to manipulate the outcome of November’s presidential elections have dogged Donald Trump’s presidency since its infancy and developments since those days have only added fuel to the fire.
Now Trump's ex-national security adviser, Michael Flynn, wants immunity to testify on alleged Russian election interference, his lawyer has said. In an extraordinary revelation, Robert Kelner said that his client "has a story to tell", but needs to guard against "unfair prosecution".
Mike Flynn was initially, remarkably, appointed as Trump’s national security adviser despite being all but written off two years ago when he was removed from his post as a Pentagon intelligence chief. The retired US army lieutenant-general was one of ‘The Donald’s’ most vocal supporters during his campaign for the presidency and was reported to be one of his closest advisors.
Mr Flynn has previously complained that he was fired from the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 2014 after just two years for telling hard truths about the war on Islamist extremism. This was reportedly laughed off as bitter retribution for his removal due to his incompetency and inability to perform the role.
After the initial shock of seeing Flynn appointed to the president’s cabinet his hypocrisy was highlighted when it was made clear that he had been a lifelong Democrat before joining Trump’s campaign team. The outspoken Rhode Islander later claimed that the Democrats were no longer the party that he recognised and aligned himself with Trump citing his reasons as, quite laughably given the circumstances, "the dishonesty and deceit of our government".
On the subject of dishonesty and incompetence we can perhaps add ignorance and outright stupidity when we consider his appearance at a banquet held in honour of the Russian government, where Flynn sat two seats away from Vladimir Putin, with his warm relationship with Moscow creating real concern for some national security experts. Flynn flashed his ignorance and bigotry credentials when, as reported by the BBC, in February 2016, he tweeted "fear of Muslims is RATIONAL", while in July, he told the New York Post "the Islamic world is an epic failure" as he introduced his plan to beat radicalism, which presumably included isolating and insulting American Muslims, a strategy with a shaky track-record.
In August, he spoke at an event in Dallas, Texas, for an anti-Islamist group Act for America, saying that Islam "is a political ideology" and that it "definitely hides behind being a religion", raising concerns that he may genuinely struggle with basic language and definitions.
Flynn then made a habit of short and controversy-ridden roles as he was unceremoniously fired by Trump for his dishonesty regarding his collaboration with Russian officials before he held any official government role. Despite assurances provided to Vice-President Pence and further assurances he had given to authorities it was revealed that Flynn had been acting in an official government capacity when he met the Russian Ambassador despite holding no official office.
In further damaging news for Trump’s denials that he has definitely, definitely never colluded with Russian intelligence The BBC has apparently learned that US officials "verified" a key claim in a report about Kremlin involvement in Donald Trump's election - that a Russian diplomat in Washington was in fact a spy. The framework for the investigation, publicly acknowledged now for the first time, comes from Christopher Steele, once of Britain's secret intelligence service MI6. The dossier in question was one written for use by Trump’s political opponents and whilst being dismissed constantly by Trump’s administration has now, seemingly had one of its claims verified.
In it Steele wrote: "A leading Russian diplomat, Mikhail KULAGIN, had been withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation… would be exposed in the media there." There was no diplomat called Kulagin in the Russian embassy; there was a Kalugin.
Make of the allegations and subsequent squirming of one of Trump’s key allies what you will. It could potentially mean that a loose cannon working outside of the president’s knowledge is now attempting to save himself. It could potentially mean that systematic and illegal collusion between Trump’s campaign and a Russian office took place. This story certainly doesn’t seem to be going anywhere for the foreseeable future.