Former Donald Trump confidante Michael Flynn’s guilty plea to a felony charge of lying to the FBI will help special counsel Robert Mueller keep his job, Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman argued in a provocative new column for Bloomberg View.
“The fact that the lies concern Russia makes it politically harder for Trump to fire Mueller or to pardon Flynn than if the charge had involved Flynn’s other legal woes over his unreported lobbying for Turkey,” Professor Feldman explained. “And because Trump has let it be known that he is considering firing the special counsel, Mueller must do more than simply prosecute if he doesn’t want to be fired. He must shape public perception of his investigation to reduce the probability — by suggesting that his firing would itself be an act of obstruction of justice by the president.”
Both of the lies explained in the court documents involve conversations with Russia’s then-ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
“The really interesting issue here is that Flynn bothered to lie at all about these contacts with Kislyak. And the $64,000 question is, why did he lie?” Feldman wondered. “One possibility is that Flynn lied because he was trying to hide a longer course of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.”
“The more contacts Mueller can show, the closer he is to a narrative that shows conspiratorial cooperation between Russia and Trump,” Feldman explained. “Flynn’s specific plea makes it harder for Trump to fire Mueller or pardon Flynn. The more Russia information emerges, the more any act of firing or pardon would look like obstruction of justice by the president.”