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Trump’s fired national security adviser could be cooperating with Russia probe

The New York Times reported developments about former NSA Michael Flynn’s lawyers breaking off contacts with Trump’s legal team.

world Updated: Nov 24, 2017 23:51 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Michael Flynn,Russia Probe,Michael Flynn investigation
Michael Flynn speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington on February 1. (AP File Photo)

In a sign that former US national security adviser Michael Flynn could be cooperating with the US special counsel probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election, his lawyers have stopped sharing information with the legal team of his erstwhile boss, President Donald Trump.

It’s normal for lawyers of people facing similar allegations to share information, but they must stop when any of them begins cooperating with prosecutors. This new development in itself may not mean that Flynn is cooperating or negotiating a deal, because negotiations can break down.

If Flynn is indeed cooperating, he could grant special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigators their best information to date as an insider who began working for Trump from an early stage of his campaign, and on the presidential transition and the early days of the presidency.

Three Trump campaign figures have already been charged in the Russia probe — erstwhile chairman Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates and foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who is cooperating with investigators in a plea deal.

The New York Times, which first reported the development about Flynn’s lawyers breaking off contacts with Trump’s legal team, had expected charges to be filed against Flynn but contended that he doesn’t have any incriminating evidence against the president.

Flynn is being investigated for contacts with the Russians, going back from before he worked with the campaign, and concealing the exact nature of those interactions and accepting money, a speaking fee and other payments from Russia-linked entities, which he did not report. Trump fired him in January for lying about these contacts.

Most significantly, Flynn, as national security adviser-designate, had several conversations with then Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak after President Barack Obama expelled a bunch of Russian diplomats and announced sanctions in retaliation for the meddling. Flynn had lied to vice president Mike Pence about it, saying it was courtesy call, and that he and Kislyak had only exchanged pleasantries. Alarmed by these lies, the FBI warned the White House that Flynn might have been compromised.

Also during the transition period, Flynn met the ambassador along with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

First Published: Nov 24, 2017 23:51 IST