Michael Flynn’s guilty plea to one count of lying to federal investigators shook stock markets. Just before noon EST, the Dow Jones average is down 235 points, and the 30-year Treasury bond is up 1 20/32 points. Flynn reportedly has agreed to testify that Trump told him to talk to the Russians about foreign policy. That by itself isn’t a crime.
As Never-Trumper David French writes this morning at National Review:
The sharp-eyed reader will note that Flynn is being charged with lying to the FBI about activity that isn’t criminal. While it’s not uncommon for defendants to be charged with lying to the FBI during investigations of underlying crimes (rather than being charged with the crime itself), here Flynn is charged with lying to the FBI about contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition period between the Obama and Trump administrations. While some zealots may scream about the Logan Act, only the most strained (and likely unconstitutional) reading of the law would bar a member of incoming administration from conferring with a foreign power about matters that directly relate to the conduct of that administration’s foreign policy.
At worst, Flynn can tell investigators that Trump was doing what every incoming administration in history has done: sound foreign governments as to their policy views.