Yesterday, Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn was back in the news—this time wanting to make a deal. Flynn told FBI investigators looking into Trump's connections with Russia that he will give them an interview "in exchange for a grant of immunity from prosecution," The Wall Street Journal reports. "He has made the offer to the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees through his lawyer but has so far found no takers, the officials said."
Although Flynn "has a story to tell," the Senate Intelligence Committee rejected his request for immunity this morning. Senior congressional officials told NBC News that the committee is "not receptive" to Flynn's request "at this time." Meanwhile, over in the House...
Rep. Adam Schiff, D.-Calif., the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, acknowledged in a statement that the Justice Department's interest in Flynn's testimony could take precedence over Congress' wish to hear from him.
He also said there are "many more witnesses and documents to obtain" before the House Intelligence Committee can consider any immunity request — specifically citing a background check document that would show whether Flynn reported work he did for any foreign entities.
At 4:04 a.m. today, Trump encouraged him, calling the entire thing “a witch hunt” that wouldn't lead anywhere.
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
Ironic, considering that during last year's presidential campaign, both Flynn and Trump made comments about how such deals indicated guilt. At the time, they were speaking directly of Hilary Clinton, and the Clinton staffers pressed to accept immunity in September; Trump declared that the only reason someone gets immunity "is because they did something wrong. If they didn't do anything wrong, they don't think in terms of immunity. Five people. Folks, I'm telling you: Nobody's seen anything like this in our country's history.”
Now Trump claims that Flynn's only been forced to seek immunity because he can’t trust a process that's been rigged and turned into a witch hunt by the Dems and the media. At the same time, Trump opponents are up in arms, pointing out that Flynn probably has secrets to hide if he's seeking a deal.
Connecticut federal criminal defense attorney Todd Bussert told The Washington Post that it's typical for a person who's the subject of a federal investigation to seek immunity before speaking to the feds; even if they’ve done nothing wrong, "there’s this fear that something they say could be used against them.” But it is usual for the government to grant immunity simply to hear a story:
When immunity is granted, it’s often with an eye toward reeling in a bigger fish — which is why Trump critics have seized on the idea. But as Bussert noted in our conversation, that also makes Flynn’s request for immunity sort of an all-or-nothing deal: Either he’s got something that can take down the president or he has nothing that will take down anybody, since there aren’t many bigger fish than a top adviser to the president of the United States.
The government isn’t going to simply give immunity just to hear a confession. That’s not how such agreements work anyway; prosecutors only grant immunity once they know what information the person has. “You would have a difficult time seeing a scenario whereby they would be willing to look the other way if they think he engaged in criminal misconduct,” Bussert said. “They might say, ‘Come in and help yourself. Come in to a cooperation agreement and we’ll help you at sentencing — but we’re not going to simply let you walk away from this.’”