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Trump legal team plans to smear Flynn to damage credibility

Trump’s legal team in the Russia investigation plans to undermine Flynn’s credibility by projecting him as a liar.

world Updated: Dec 28, 2017 21:18 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump,Russia investigation,former national security advisor Michael Flynn
Donald Trump and his former national security advisor Mike Flynn at Mar-a-Lago, Florida on December 21, 2016.(Reuters File)

Donald Trump’s legal team is reportedly getting ready to brand former national security adviser Michael Flynn a “liar” to defend the president from allegations emerging from the latter’s cooperation in the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Flynn has admitted to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials as a member of Trump’s transition team in December 2016 — a crime which carries a maximum jail term of five years. However, the former lieutenant general has entered into a plea deal, under which he is cooperating in return for a possibly reduced punishment —the senior-most former Trump staffer to be cooperating with the FBI investigation.

Trump’s defence lawyers plan to use Flynn’s confession to lying to damage his credibility. “He’s said it himself: He’s a liar,” a member of the team told The Washington Post.

He has confessed to multiple contacts with the then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016. One of those interactions was about trying to enlist Russian help to prevent or stall a vote in the UN Security Council against Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, which the Obama administration had planned to allow.

Another interaction was about sanctions the Obama administration had imposed on Russia over elections meddling. Flynn asked Russia to not retaliate, promising the measures will be reversed by the Trump administration.

When asked about these interactions, Flynn lied first to the FBI, and then to vice president Mike Pence. Trump fired him for that, but continued to defend him publicly, calling him a “wonderful man”, and has refused to say if he will pardon him or not.

“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet,” Trump told reporters earlier this month. “We’ll see what happens. Let’s see. I can say this: When you look at what’s gone on with the FBI and with the justice department, people are very, very angry.”

The Flynn family has been raising resources and support for the former NSA, and his brother, Joseph Flynn, publicly asked Trump for a pardon in a tweet on Tuesday. “Mr. President, I personally believe that a pardon is due to General Flynn, given the apparent and obvious illegitimacy of the manner in which the so called ‘crimes’ he plead guilty to were extracted from him. I ask for quick action on this. Thank you and keep up the good work!”

There had been response to that Tweet from the president or the White House till the writing of this report.

First Published: Dec 28, 2017 20:21 IST