The Trump administration is facing perhaps its greatest possible scandal — and Team Trump’s words about immunity and culpability are starting to come back to haunt them.
On Thursday, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn announced that he would seek immunity in return for his testimony on the Trump campaign’s alleged contacts with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Flynn’s attorney Robert Kelner told The New York Times on Thursday that “General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit.” President Donald Trump himself has characterized the continued focus on the Russia scandal as a “witch hunt,” a description that was also used by Kelner.
Trump took to Twitter early Friday morning to weigh in on Flynn’s potential testimony.
Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2017
Jeremy Bash, who served as chief of staff for both the CIA and the Department of Defense under President Barack Obama, told MSNBC on Thursday that “the image I have in my head of the White House is a runaway train. The brakes are out… that is how much trouble we’re in.”
After adding that authorities would only offer immunity to Flynn if they “believe it’s worth it in this case,” Bash pointed out that “and for the Justice Department to agree to give somebody like him immunity it means they want him to turn and testify against someone higher up in the food chain. Who is higher up in the food chain, higher than the national security adviser? There’s really only one person. And so this shows that the jeopardy of criminal liability actually extends all the way to the top.”
During an appearance on “Meet the Press” in September, Flynn said, “when you are given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime.” Although this remark was said in the context of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, it nevertheless has sobering implications for Flynn’s state of mind as he offers to testify in exchange for immunity regarding the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia — a relationship that prompted Flynn to resign only weeks after becoming national security adviser.