ITV News, “Trump administration ‘will be having restless nights over Flynn testimony offer”, 31 March 2017:
Flynn was famously pictured sitting next to Vladimir Putin at a gala in Moscow in December 2015 and it was his conversations with Russian officials that ultimately led to his downfall.
President Trump and his administration will have endured a “restless night’s sleep” following Michael Flynn’s offer to testify about possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia in exchange for immunity from prosecution, Barack Obama’s former press secretary has told ITV News.
Flynn, ousted as national security adviser in February following an onslaught of damaging headlines about his ties to the Kremlin, has told the FBI and Congress that he “has a story to tell” but wants assurances “against unfair prosecution”.
Josh Earnest, who served as the former president’s top spokesman for three years, said Flynn’s offer “is an indication that he is concerned about the information he may reveal”.
“My guess is that there were a lot of restless night’s sleep last night after that Wall Street Journal story posted,” Earnest told ITV News.
“Because everybody who thought they were having a private conversation with Mike Flynn in the last two years or anybody who sent an email over the last two years or anybody who has been responsible for publicly defending him over the last two months is now in a position where that information could be revealed to the FBI or congressional investigators.
“That has to be a little disconcerting to everybody - including the president of the United States.”
Trump’s young presidency has so far been blighted by the ongoing suspicion that his campaign colluded with the Russian government in its efforts to sway the election in his favour.
Flynn is one of a number of Trump associates under investigation by the FBI as part of the probe into Russian meddling.
Earnest said Trump’s decision to appoint Flynn to a role “so crucial” to America’s national security would again come under scrutiny.
“Appointing someone like General Flynn to be his national security adviser and have him resign after 24 days because he was being dishonest and now potentially has some criminal liability - it’s concerning and does raise questions about the president’s judgement in putting somebody like General Flynn into a position that is so crucial to our national security.”
Earnest, who now works as a political analyst for NBC, urged observers not to jump to conclusions over Flynn’s offer to testify, saying it was too early to say whether the retired three-star Army general would provide the “smoking gun” which directly links the president to Russia’s aggressive operation to meddle in the election process.
“He’s got a story he wants to tell - we’ll see what happens.”
Flynn was one of Trump’s closest confidantes on the campaign trail, gaining prominence for his raucous attacks on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server.
In comments likely to come back to haunt him, Flynn told NBC last September: “When you are given immunity, that means you have probably committed a crime.”
After Trump’s victory, Flynn was appointed as the new administration’s top security adviser despite concerns over his desire to forge closer ties to the Russian government.
He was famously pictured sitting next to Vladimir Putin at a gala in Moscow in December 2015 and it was his conversations with Russian officials that ultimately led to his downfall.
Michael Flynn, pictured above left with Donald Trump, was ousted as national security adviser in February following an onslaught of damaging headlines about his ties to the Kremlin Credit: AP
Flynn was forced to quit after a less than a month in the role when it emerged that he had discussed sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed on the Kremlin with the Russian ambassador - conversations which he then subsequently lied about to the Vice-President Mike Pence.
It is one of a number of scandals to have engulfed the president since he took office on January 20.
“Everyday seems to be a day of new drama in this White House and it is part of the leadership style that we’ve seen from President Trump - he likes to preside over chaos and keeping people off balance,” Earnest said.
“It’s the way he ran his campaign and it worked; But I think we are seeing that running a campaign is a lot different to running a country. When you are running a country people expect you to be a source of stability, not chaos.”