As Published in The Commuter 4/5/2017
“General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit,” read the statement released by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner.
The saga into the Trump administration’s possible ties to the Russian government took another turn when a rumor that Flynn was approaching the FBI and House and Senate intelligence committees for immunity in exchange for his testimony concerning Russian ties surfaced on March 25. The rumor was later confirmed on March 30 by a statement released by Kelner.
Flynn was forced to resign from his post as a national security advisor in February following leaks that revealed he had been in contact with a Russian ambassador about loosening sanctions during then-candidate Trump’s campaign and allegedly failed to disclose the meetings to Mike Pence.
It has since been proven that Flynn had initially failed to disclose payments he received for appearances from various Russian entities, including Russia Today, the state-owned news outlet.
The Flynn immunity request has amplified calls from Senate Democrats for an independent investigation into possible Russian government influence in the presidential election and ties to Trump, in conjunction with House Intelligence Committee leader Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-Ca.) recent behavior. It was revealed on Friday that Nunes had withheld information from committee members that he received for over a week, and conferred with the White House before sharing the information.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Ca.), the Democratic leader on the House Intelligence Committee, expressed a belief that Flynn asking for immunity is an important revelation.
“We should first acknowledge what a grave and momentous step it is for a former National Security Advisor to the President of the United States to ask for immunity from prosecution,” said Schiff.
The statement released by Kelner offered an explanation of Flynn’s request for immunity.
“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,” said the statement.
Even with Kelner’s statement, the fact that Flynn is requesting immunity indicates at least the possibility that criminal charges will be brought following an investigation of Russia’s interference with the election and/or the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia.
Transactional immunity from prosecution can be given if a party can testify against a higher priority defendant, immunity may also be denied if investigators feel there is ample evidence to prosecute all parties involved or the information presented in exchange is negligible. This is the type of immunity Kelner would seek from the FBI.
The other form of immunity, use immunity, is granted by a supermajority vote of a congressional committee and approved by a judge. Use immunity would protect Flynn from being prosecuted using any information divulged during a testimony before a committee.
The Department of Justice explains the difference between the two forms of immunity in the Criminal Resource Manual, article 717.
“The difference between transactional and use immunity is that transactional immunity protects the witness from prosecution for the offense or offenses involved, whereas use immunity only protects the witness against the government’s use of his or her immunized testimony in a prosecution of the witness — except in a subsequent prosecution for perjury or giving a false statement.”
On Sunday, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, indicated that Flynn’s attempt at immunity had gained little traction with the committee.
“We are not ready to consider that,” Warner told John Catsimatidis on New York’s WNYM-AM 970. “We are not even publicly acknowledging that he has contacted us.”
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