Bush's attorney general urges caution in reacting to Flynn plea
In the wake of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's recent guilty plea to lying about conversations with Russia's ambassador, "Chicago’s Morning Answer" hosts Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson pondered the implications with guest Alberto Gonzales, former attorney general in the George W. Bush administration.
Flynn, a retired lieutenant general in the Army, served approximately a month in the Trump White House, according to Fox News, before resigning amid a controversy surrounding what he told Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with Russia. The ensuing investigation, helmed by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, prompted his guilty plea over lying to officials about his communication with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a Fox News article stated.
Over the weekend after the guilty plea, Proft, who is a principal in Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication, noted that the Sunday morning talk shows were rife with speculation about how the information Flynn might give investigators could lead to impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Proft played a clip from NBC’s “Meet the Press” in which U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned Trump’s fitness for office.
“I’ve been here for 25 years now there is a kind of instability, unpredictability, it’s one issue after the other, we’ve got major problems in the world with our allies now, in the Middle East, North Korea, it goes on and on,” Feinstein said in the sound bite. “I think that this president is precipitating more and more angst that’s going to lead to serious discord.”
Calling Feinstein’s charges “absurd,” Proft attributed her remarks as an attempt to remain relevant during a possible Democratic primary challenge from Tom Steyer, whom CalWatchdog.com characterized as a hedge-fund billionaire and activist.
“Amid all the fanfare from the left, as if we are finally on our way to impeachment, when pressed for the particulars, what does DiFi offer?” Proft asked. “Abstractions like discord and angst. Does that speak to the relative weakness of the argument and to the weakness of Mueller’s case?”
Gonzales, now dean of the Belmont University College of Law in Nashville, sounded a cautious note when asked to respond to Flynn’s admission of guilt.
“I think a lot of people are making comments based on their own interests, but I do think it’s fair to say there are some serious questions that have been raised as a result of the Flynn plea deal,” Gonzales said during the on-air segment.
“It’s hard to say that it’s fully politics,” Gonzales continued. “We’ve got two people who’ve pleaded guilty to crimes related to false statements. Mueller is building a case higher and higher to see where it goes.”
“I’d be a little nervous quite frankly, if there has been wrongdoing – that’s the key,” Gonzales said. “There’s been no evidence of wrongdoing today, but that’s what the investigation is all about.”
Co-host Amy Jacobson asked Gonzales whether Flynn’s guilty plea indicated prosecutors were trying to build a case against another high-ranking White House official.
“The reason he accepted the plea is that either he wanted to protect himself from more serious charges or protect others,” Gonzales replied. “There’s speculation that he’s trying to protect his son from possible prosecution, or there’s speculation he was trying to protect someone else in the administration. That remains to be seen. There’s still so many unanswered questions that it really is hard to predict where this thing is going to go.”
Proft mentioned that attorney Alan Dershowitz speculated that the guilty plea suggests Mueller’s case is weak “because you don’t want Flynn to plead out to lying to the FBI, you want him to provide evidence of some larger conspiracy among higher ups."
“Well, we don’t know what Flynn has given up,” Gonzales said. “My understanding is that Flynn, as part of the deal, is obligated to provide (or confirm any) additional information that may come to light. It’s hard to speculate about the direction and scope of an investigation. You never know whether special counsel may be going in a certain direction for reasons we can’t comprehend until later on.”