In a late-breaking story Thursday night, several media outlets reported that Michael Flynn, short-lived security advisor for the Trump administration, is offering through his attorney to be “interviewed” by the FBI in exchange for immunity.
The question that the media is breathlessly asking, as RedState put it, is “immunity from what?”
True to form, the establishment media smells blood in the water — or at least what they think is blood. The Washington Examiner could barely contain its glee while reminding readers that Flynn once told NBC’s Chuck Todd — in reference to Hillary Clinton staffers who received immunity in the email scandal — that “When you are given immunity, that means you have probably committed a crime.” The Examiner calls the whole thing a “potentially awkward” conflict, but the tone of the article is clear, and it closely resembles a five-year-old screaming, “I got you! I got you!” Other so-called journalists piled on as well, quoting the Wall Street Journal’s original report — which cited “officials with knowledge of the matter.” The media sincerely hopes that Flynn immunity means Trump crime.
The entire story has several problems; rather than running through the streets screaming about Flynn the Traitor, or even Flynn the Deep State victim, let’s apply some logic and critical thinking to get to the bottom of it. What the media sharks are treating like the best feeding frenzy they’ve had since the last time President Trump tweeted something, may not be anything at all. We’ll look at two of the most logical conclusions.
Offering to talk to the FBI or Congress but insisting that they promise in writing not to prosecute you for anything you might say is not the same thing as getting caught doing something illegal and trying to leverage a confession as currency. As Flynn’s own attorney pointed out in a statement (read the whole thing here), Flynn would be an idiot to talk to anyone at this point without some sort of guarantee — not because he’s guilty of lawbreaking, but because he’s a guy who’s capable of reading the writing on the wall. If you read the whole message from the attorney, you’ll also see that nowhere in the statement is the word “testify” used. Flynn didn’t show up at the FBI Building and offer to testify, he offered to be interviewed. So why is the media claiming that Flynn offered to testify in every single story? Because the word has the connotation of a trial, a courtroom. By using the term, they are attempting to implant the suggestion that 1) there is a court proceeding going on, and 2) that Flynn will be speaking against the administration. Here’s what the attorney actually said:
Gen. Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit. … No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch-hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution.
Most of the media reports out so far stop after the first sentence of that quote. Flynn has a story to tell and it will be oh-so-juicy. That’s all the media cares about. They’ve carefully edited and even crafted language to make the insinuation that Flynn is coming forward to confess his Russian sins. The unspoken story that they’re hinting at (and hope readers pick up on) is that Flynn will implicate the President in some nefarious dealings, giving them the answer they so desperately want to the age-old question: What did the President know, and when did he know it?
The problem is that the attorney is giving them an answer about Flynn’s offer to talk; they just don’t like it, so they leave it off of most of the quotes. Never mind that the attorney’s extra language (Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it) leans toward what deception analysts call need to persuade. Flynn is not looking forward to this. He does not want to talk about this, and certainly not to the FBI or Congress. No reasonable person who has a lawyer would talk to the FBI without a promise that they wouldn’t be prosecuted unfairly — if they talked at all. While the media will ask why he needs immunity if he did nothing wrong (after all, they screech, he said people who get immunity probably committed a crime), the real question we should be asking is this:
If you were Michael Flynn, and you had done nothing wrong, would you talk to the FBI and Congress without any written guarantee against prosecution, given the current climate?
We’re talking about a guy who, it’s widely believed, may have been run out on a rail by the Deep State. So is he really guilty of something? Or simply smarter than people have thus far given him credit?
The other possible conclusion also deals with Flynn’s dismissal from the administration. For whatever reason (depending on the story you believe), Flynn was fired from a position he had just stepped into. Might that cause some disgruntlement? Maybe a lashing out at the administration? Certainly it could; the Deep State leveraging their influence and/or Flynn’s vulnerabilities would also make sense, if one were to stumble down that path. In other words, this situation could be something big — and it could simply be that Michael Flynn is willing to try and put the whole matter to rest as long as he can get it in writing that they won’t somehow find a way to stab him in the back.
Which brings me to the point: We do not know yet what happened. What we do know so far is that the media is working very hard to make it look like Flynn flipped on the administration — and that should immediately give you pause. As we’ve all seen, if the media is trying desperately to make you believe something, you can bet they’re hiding a lot more of the story, if there’s a story at all.
UPDATE: Early Friday morning, President Trump tweeted that Flynn should seek immunity in order to avoid a witch hunt.
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
So much for the “disgruntled employee seeking revenge” idea. It looks like the media may be wrong again, regardless of how desperately they want to smear Trump.