Why Mike Flynn Wants Immunity To Testify On Russia

by Seth Millstein
Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images

According to the Wall Street Journal, former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has requested immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying to Congress about alleged connections between President Trump and the Russian government. Shortly after that report, Flynn's lawyer released a statement all but confirming it. Obviously, this raises a huge question: Why does Flynn want immunity? Or, to be more specific, what kind of charges might he want immunity from?

"General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit," Robert Kelner, Flynn's lawyer, wrote in the 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."

As of now, that's the closest we have to an answer. Flynn doesn't want to face "unfair prosecution," and so he's requesting immunity. Obviously, that still leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

On Twitter, this news had many Trump opponents giddy at the prospect of Flynn "flipping" and testifying against Trump. However, the language in Kelner's statement doesn't suggest that this is the case, as it's still quite defiant against the implication that Flynn did anything wrong.

"Notwithstanding his life of national service, the media are awash with unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo against him," Kelner wrote. "He is now the target of unsubstantiated public demands by Members of Congress and other political critics that he be criminally investigated."

The Wall Street Journal report claims that Flynn has proposed the deal — his testimony in exchange for immunity — to the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees, but that none have taken up up on it yet.

Regardless of how this turns out or what it ultimately means, this is a fascinating development. It's fascinating in part because two months before the election, Flynn said on Meet the Press that "when you are given immunity, that means you have probably committed a crime." This was shortly after he led a "lock her up" chant against Hillary Clinton at the Republican National Convention, telling delegates that "if I did a tenth, a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today."

Flynn was a top surrogate during Trump's presidential campaign, and briefly served as his National Security Advisor. He resigned from the post after it was reported that during the transition, he had spoken to a Russian ambassador about U.S. sanctions on Russia, despite having publicly denied having any such conversations. His spokesman later backtracked, saying that Flynn "couldn’t be certain" that he didn't talk about sanctions with the Russian ambassador.