There is something about former General Michael Flynn that seems forced. It is almost as if he is trying too hard to appear sincere, a communication style which has the end result of making him seem disingenuous. General Flynn, of course, obtained notoriety for his brief tenure as President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser. Flynn was relieved of his duties on February 13, after the Administration learned that he was less than forthcoming about a telephone conversation which he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Apparently, General Flynn had told the administration that he did not discuss government sanctions with the Russian ambassador. However, it was later revealed that the topic had come up in their telephone exchange, a revelation which created embarrassment for Vice President Mike Pence who had gone on the Sunday talk shows on February 12 defending Flynn.
Flynn is back in the news. Apparently he had offered to testify to the Senate and House Intelligence committees investigating the “Russian hacking” of the election, if he is granted immunity. The Senate Intelligence Committee wasted no time in responding to Flynn’s offer with a swift “no”. A representative for the Senate Intelligence Committee told Flynn’s lawyer Robert Kelner that Flynn’s offer was “wildly preliminary” and that immunity was “not on the table” at the moment. Kelner had released a statement on Thursday March 30. “No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch hunt environment without assurance against unfair prosecution.” Kelner had also reportedly requested immunity for Flynn from the Department of Justice in exchange for testimony.
Interestingly enough, Flynn’s offer to testify to Congress and the Department of Justice has received support from President Trump who tweeted Friday. “Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for a big election loss), by media & Dems, or historic proportion!”
Flynn’s request for immunity was ridiculed by the media because in a 2016 appearance on Meet the Press, he criticized Hillary Clinton’s aides for seeking immunity for their testimony in the Clinton email scandal by saying “When you are given immunity that means you probably committed a crime.” Jason Chaffetz, the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform had also criticized Flynn’s request for immunity. “Look, it’s very mysterious to me, though, why all of a sudden General Flynn is suddenly out there saying he wants immunity. I don’t think Congress should give him immunity.” Chaffetz told Fox News.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has made the statement that it was “a grave and momentous step” for a former National Security Adviser to the President of the United States to ask for immunity from prosecution. Schiff further commented that there were ”many more witnesses and documents to obtain” before a request for immunity for a witness would be entertained. Schiff also commented that the Committee would defer to the DOJ regarding any decision concerning immunity for Flynn. A spokesperson for House Intelligence Committee Chairperson Devin Nunes (R-CA) stated that a representative of the Committee spoke with Flynn’s attorney about Flynn testifying but the discussion did not include specifics about immunity or any other conditions for his appearance.
Has General Flynn boxed himself into a no win situation? If immunity is not granted, will he ultimately refuse to testify? And will his refusal be perceived as his having something to hide? That being said, a request for immunity is not an admission of guilt. What about the individual or individuals responsible for “unmasking” Flynn? If their identities are revealed, I am sure they will be seeking immunity for any testimony.