Flynn Once Said That Only Criminals Ask For Immunity

by Seth Millstein
Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Around two months before the election, General Mike Flynn said that people aren't given immunity from prosecution unless they've committed a crime. That line came back to haunt him on Thursday, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Flynn himself has requested immunity from the FBI in exchange for testifying in the ongoing probe into connections between Donald Trump and the Russian government. What a difference six months can make.

"When you are given immunity, that means that you've probably committed a crime," Flynn told Meet The Press on Sept. 16. "The only time you give somebody immunity is if they've committed a crime," Flynn explained to local news in more definitive terms two weeks later.

At the time, Flynn was talking about aides to Hillary Clinton, several of whom were granted immunity during the investigation into Clinton's email account. But now, it's Flynn who reportedly wants immunity; by the standard set forth by his past self, that would mean that his present self is guilty of a crime.

However, Flynn hasn't been charged with any crimes, and it's unclear precisely what type of charges he's allegedly seeking immunity from. The Wall Street Journal reported that Flynn made the proposal to the FBI, the Senate, and the House Intelligence Committees with regard to the various Trump-Russia investigations, but that none of them had taken him up on the deal.

In a subsequent statement, Flynn's lawyer didn't explicitly confirm that he's seeking immunity in exchange for testifying, but did strongly imply that this is the case.

"General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances commit," Robert Kelner wrote in a statement. "No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution."

It's no surprise that Trump's opponents were positively gleeful at the prospect of Flynn "flipping" on Trump and possibly testifying against his old boss. But in an article on, Harvard Law professor Alex Whiting insisted that this probably isn't the case. Whiting argued that Flynn's lawyer wouldn't have issued such a public statement on the matter if Flynn actually had anything incriminating to tell prosecutors.

Flynn campaigned for Trump during the election, and led a raucous "Lock her up!" chant during his speech at the Republican National Convention. He was Trump's first national security adviser, but resigned less than a month into the job after it was reported that, contrary to his public statements, he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with a Russian ambassador during the transition period.