On Tuesday, CNN reported that federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to various associates of former national security advisor Micheal Flynn as a part of the ongoing investigation into the scope of Russia’s involvement in influencing the 2016 election.
The timing of this news is interesting; CNN apparently learned of the subpoenas mere hours before President Donald Trump unceremoniously fired FBI director James Comey, who was heading the probe into Russia’s involvement. The recipients of the subpoenas are former business associates of Flynn’s, who worked with him after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014.
The Flynn investigation centers around his possible mishandling of disclosures about payments from clients with relationships to foreign governments, including Russia and Turkey, sources told CNN. Flynn’s attorney, the Justice Department, the FBI and the US Attorney’s office in Alexandria have all declined to comment on this revelation, which is fine, because honestly, what could they really say?
By all accounts, Flynn was an especially horrible choice for the role. CNN also reports that during a meeting with then President-Elect Trump, former President Obama raised concerns about Flynn — not because of his ouster from the Defense Intelligence Agency, but because of how his name kept “popping up” during the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election. Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified on Monday that she had tried to warn the White House about Flynn’s particular unsuitability for this role, citing the fact that he is likely very susceptible to Russian blackmail because on account of lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Despite these warnings, President Trump hired him anyway, only to accept his resignation 24 days later.
The subpoenas are “the first sign of a significant escalation of activity” in the investigation, CNN reports, but now that Comey’s out, effective immediately, what will become of this investigation? With the person leading the investigation out of a job, is this dead in the water?
Speaking to the New York Times, Timothy Naftali, a former director of the Nixon presidential library, offered some slightly reassuring words, pointing out the obvious.
“With or without Mr. Comey, the F.B.I. will continue to investigate the 2016 campaign as it relates to Russian intervention,” Mr. Naftali said. “This is another kind of mistake. Unless Attorney General Sessions can prove malfeasance or gross negligence by Comey, the timing of this action further deepens suspicions that President Trump is covering up something.”