Monday December 04, 2017

Michael Flynn 'extraordinarily dangerous' for Trump's White House: Charlie Sykes

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians during the 2016 U.S. election campaign. (Lauren Victoria Burke/Associated Press)

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Former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn's guilty plea Friday and his disclosure that he's cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is "extraordinarily dangerous for the president," according to Charlie Sykes, a conservative political commentator.

"I think one of the president's closest aides has described this as an existential threat to his presidency," Sykes told The Current's host Anna Maria Tremonti.

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Flynn has agreed to co-operate with prosecutors delving into the actions of Trump's inner circle in 2016 before he took office. (George Frey/Getty Images)

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump's inauguration.

According to court documents, Flynn also said an undisclosed senior member of Trump's team knew about his contact with Russian officials.

Trump's lawyer says he authored Flynn tweet 

President Donald Trump reacted to Flynn's plea with several tweets this weekend — with one potential incriminating tweet that his lawyer, John Dowd, now claims to have written.

"I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI," read Trump's Saturday tweet.

"He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!"

'The chances of impeachment are zero.' - Charlie Sykes

The tweet suggested that Trump was aware that Flynn had lied to the FBI before firing him. On Sunday, Trump's lawyer John Dowd stepped in, claiming that he wrote that tweet, not the president.

Trump Time

After Michael Flynn's guilty plea, Donald Trump lashed out at the FBI in a series of tweets. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

"They (tweets) were so bizarre that it that it gave off a whiff of panic," said Sykes, who also authored How the Right Lost Its Mind.

"For Donald Trump basically ... to walk away from one of his own tweets, it's kind of an extraordinary moment."

During the transition period and the early days of the Trump administration, General Flynn was in the middle of everything and very close to the president, according to Sykes.

"Every single principle in the White House had conversations and communications with Michael Flynn."

"If there's any contradiction between what they said to Flynn and what they told the FBI, they realize that they are now faced with gravely legal jeopardy," said Sykes.

Michael Flynn USA-TRUMP/RUSSIA

'Every single principle in the White House had conversations and communications with Michael Flynn,' said conservative political commentator Charlie Sykes. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

What's the likelihood of impeachment?

As for talk of impeachment, Sykes considered it unlikely at this point.

"I think that the special prosecutor appears to be building a case for obstruction of justice, but let's really be honest that as long as Republicans are in control of Congress, the chances of impeachment are zero. I just do not see that happening until more evidence comes out."

Allan Lichtman, professor of history at American University, predicted Trump's election win before others considered him a serious challenger for the White House. He also predicted that the president would be headed for impeachment within a year in office.

'Only 24 or so Republicans —10 per cent of the delegation — would have to flip to join Democrats in voting for articles of impeachment.' - Allan Lichtman

Even if the Republican Party was reluctant as Sykes mentioned, if Republicans come to believe that Trump is taking them down in 2018 and threatening their re-election, they could well turn against him, according to the author of The Case for Impeachment.

"Impeachment not conviction requires only a majority vote from the U.S. House of Representatives. Only 24 or so Republicans —10 per cent of the delegation — would have to flip to join Democrats in voting for articles of impeachment."

Listen to the full segment above — including Daniel Dale, Toronto Star's Washington bureau chief


The Current's John Chipman, Howard Goldenthal, Idella Struino and Yamri Taddese.