Flynn Pleads Guilty On Russia Charge, This Shit Is Real, So Get A Helmet

Analysis
Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn leaves federal court in Washington, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to making false statements to the FBI, the first Trump White House official to make a guilty plea so far in a wide-ranging investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Retired three-star Army general Michael Flynn, who for 33 years in uniform swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, pled guilty Friday morning to lying to the FBI about his attempts at secret policy coordination with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in 2016. The move could trigger a major unraveling of the United States’ Donald Trump revolution.


Related: Intel Officials Knew Flynn Vulnerable To Blackmail But Still Shared Sensitive Info With Him »

Flynn’s federal guilty plea appears to be part of a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to tell investigators all he knows about Russian coordination, and possibly more, by members of the Trump campaign, the Trump White House, and perhaps even President Donald Trump himself.

“The actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right,” Flynn said in a statement released through his attorney after the court appearance. “My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and country.” Flynn previously gained fame for popularizing the anti-Hillary Clinton catchphrase “Lock her up!” over what he called her poor handling of classified information.

Related: Lt Gen Flynn Confirms He Was A Foreign Agent During The 2016 Campaign »

In a few short years, Flynn went from being the Pentagon’s chief intelligence, to a member of Trump’s inner campaign circle and a purveyor of laughable anti-Democrat conspiracy theories like a (nonexistent) sex-trafficking ring run out of a Washington pizza parlor. After Trump’s inauguration, Flynn was named national security advisor.

Related: Flynn Stopped Military Plan Turkey Opposed — After Being Paid As Its Agent »

In the meantime, however, he’d secretly done lobbying for Turkey’s repressive president, taken massive payments for cooperating with Russian state media, and had multiple contacts with Russian officials even before his abortive, 24-day stint on the White House payroll.

Related: Mike Flynn Made A Lot More Money In Russia Than He Disclosed Before »

It was those contacts that boxed Flynn into his quick court appearance Friday. Threatened with a host of serious charges that could take down him along with his cantankerous son and personal aide, Michael Flynn Jr., the elder Flynn agreed to plead guilty to concealing what he’d asked Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak for in December 2016, before Trump had even taken office.

Related: Maybe We All Talked With The Russian Ambassador And Forgot About It »

Specifically, Flynn asked Kislyak to ensure that Russia wouldn’t retaliate against the U.S. after the outgoing Obama administration imposed tough sanctions on the former Cold War foe over its interference in Trump’s presidential election. Kislyak said the Russian government would abide by Flynn’s request.

Related: Even Republicans Are Saying Retired Lt Gen Mike Flynn Broke The Law Now »

Flynn concealed that conversation from FBI investigators, along with another request Kislyak had fulfilled for him — probably because he recognized they constituted illegal conduct of foreign policy by someone who wasn’t even in the U.S. government yet. And now he admits he did it.

Related: Mike Flynn Offers To Be interviewed By FBI In Exchange For Immunity »

What does that mean for President Trump? Potentially a lot. It’s not clear what Flynn knows. He has regularly proven not quite the intellectual powerhouse he considers himself to be. But plenty of observers note that the day after that 2016 Flynn-Kislyak chat about sanctions — which, again, Flynn concealed from FBI investigators, and supposedly lied to Mike Pence about — President-Elect Trump was jubilantly tweeting that Russian President Vladimir Putin was doing the right thing in response:

So it all comes back, again, to what the president knew and when he knew it. Plus all the other people around the president. Who, evidently, did not take the Flynn news well:

But soon enough, White House officials were back in true form with the kind of talking point that seems like a self-own:

Meanwhile, uniformed personnel at the Pentagon, Flynn’s old haunt, looked at his plea very differently from the political players at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)

Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.

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Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.

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The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.

Then the rhythmic clapping begins.

This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.

"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.

"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."



Well, I feel better. How about you?

On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.

"We do not know where they are," James Jeffrey told members of Congress of the 100+ escaped detainees. ISIS has about 18,000 "members" left in Iraq and Syria, according to recent Pentagon estimates.

A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."

"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.

President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.

"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."

The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."

Trump said that "small number of U.S. troops" would remain in Syria to protect oilfields.


Kade Kurita (U.S. Army photo(

Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.

"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.

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