The Trump-Russia connection story won’t go away: news is breaking quickly on several fronts, little of it good for President Donald Trump. The biggest news: The Wall Street Journal has just reported that Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has offered to testify — in exchange for immunity. Meanwhile, the New York Times earlier reported that two White House officials were the ones who gave Rep. Devin Nunes classified intelligence reports.
The Wall Street Journal:
WASHINGTON—Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, has told the Federal Bureau of Investigation and congressional officials investigating the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia that he is willing to be interviewed in exchange for a grant of immunity from prosecution, according to officials with knowledge of the matter.
But, the WSJ reports, so far there are no takers (so far).
Jack Langer, a spokesman for House intelligence committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), denied the Wall Street Journal’s report.
“No, Michael Flynn has not offered to testify to HPSCI in exchange for immunity,” he wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on the report. A spokesperson for the leading Democrat on the House committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did spokespeople for the chairman and ranking member of the Senate committee.
Flynn resigned from his role in the Trump administration in February after it was revealed he had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump took office. Flynn had initially denied such contact.
While Trump said he did ask for Flynn’s resignation, he’s maintained that his former adviser did nothing wrong by speaking to the Russian ambassador.
Earlier this month, documents revealed Flynn had deeper financial ties to Russia than previously reported, including receiving substantial payments from Russian companies in the year before he joined Trump’s campaign as a surrogate. House Democrats have argued that this shows Flynn may have violated a clause of the U.S. Constitution that bars key government officials from receiving payment from foreign governments.
Some reaction on Twitter:
Standby for Heavy Rolls- I'm sure the National Enquirer article saying Trump caught Flynn as Russian Spy made sure Dimes were dropped. https://t.co/9AgLFfWsr7
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) March 30, 2017
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) March 30, 2017
The only reason Flynn would want immunity is if he did something wrong. The only way the govt gives it to him is if he takes down others.
— David Yankovich (@DavidYankovich) March 30, 2017
Mike Flynn. Carter Page. Paul Manafort. Roger Stone. Jared Kushner. Steve Bannon. Devin Nunes. And they all came tumbling down. #RussiaGate
— Andrea Chalupa (@AndreaChalupa) March 30, 2017
I hope Mike Flynn is under extreme FBI protection am 100% sure Valdimir Putin secret assassin agents are looking for him as we speak! ?
— ? (@derrickrhombus) March 30, 2017
— Augustus (@Augustu34) March 30, 2017
The reaction to the Mike Flynn news around here tells me everything I need to know. The President is guilty. He knew EVERYTHING.
— White House staffer (@AngryWHStaffer) March 30, 2017
— Yashar (@yashar) March 30, 2017
I've never seen the President look anything other than orange. He turned white when the Mike Flynn news came in.
— White House staffer (@AngryWHStaffer) March 30, 2017
Flynn should also ask Putin for immunity. https://t.co/4ms4rSOnaE
— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) March 30, 2017
Meanwhile, the New York Times has a story that has further undermined the credibility of the White House and Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee:
WASHINGTON — A pair of White House officials helped provide Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.
The revelation on Thursday that White House officials disclosed the reports, which Mr. Nunes then discussed with Mr. Trump, is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the presidential election.
It is the latest twist of a bizarre Washington drama that began after dark on March 21, when Mr. Nunes got a call from a person he has described only as a source. The call came as he was riding across town in an Uber car, and he quickly diverted to the White House. The next day, Mr. Nunes gave a hastily arranged news conference before running off to brief Mr. Trump on what he had learned the night before from — as it turns out — White House officials.
The chain of events — and who helped provide the intelligence to Mr. Nunes — was detailed to The New York Times by four American officials.
Since disclosing the existence of the intelligence reports, Mr. Nunes has refused to identify his sources, saying he needed to protect them so others would feel safe coming to the committee with sensitive information. In his public comments, he has described his sources as whistle-blowers trying to expose wrongdoing at great risk to themselves.
That does not appear to be the case. Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and was previously counsel to Mr. Nunes’s committee. Though neither has been accused of breaking any laws, they do appear to have sought to use intelligence to advance the political goals of the Trump administration.
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) March 30, 2017
I get it now. 1) WH staffers showed @DevinNunes stuff, 2) Nunes briefed Trump 3) Trump said Nunes' findings "vindicated him". Was all a show
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) March 30, 2017
— Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh) March 30, 2017
RNC and NRCC insta fundriaising on Nunes "revelations" sounds like Priebus tied in …seems like Nunesgate was a WH op from top to bottom
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) March 30, 2017
Trying to imagine how Devin Nunes could've handled this more horribly… No, can't do it.
— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) March 30, 2017
WH created lifeline for self that Nunes screwed up & now Nunes needs lifeline to keep original fake lifeline alive. #GiveThemEnoughRope
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) March 30, 2017
Satirist Andy Borowitz:
NUNES SAYS HE HELD RUSSIA HEARINGS ALONE IN HIS APARTMENT AND THEY WENT GREAT
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Representative Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Wednesday that he just spent several days alone in his apartment holding hearings on President Donald J. Trump’s ties to Russia and that those hearings “went really great.”
“Having concluded several days of hearings on my own in my apartment, I am one hundred per cent satisfied that the President had no involvement with the Russians,” Nunes said. “Now it’s time to move on.”
While Nunes would not reveal who testified at the hearings in his apartment, he called their testimony “credible and productive.”
“I didn’t know what to expect when the hearings started, but, take my word for it, they were really, really good,” he said.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.