Federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan destroyed the Fox News/right-wing attempts to claim Michael Flynn had somehow been tricked into lying to the FBI and, subsequently, cooperating with the Russia investigation. So, Fox developed new spin to protect Dear Leader Donald Trump.
Before his sentencing hearing today, Flynn’s attorneys filed a memo suggesting that Flynn had fallen victim to an FBI perjury trap because investigators didn’t recommend he bring a lawyer nor warn him that lying to the FBI is a crime (and never mind that Flynn was a three-star general with a reputation as a master intelligence officer).
Incredible or not, Trump lickspittle and Fox host Jeanine Pirro jumped on the defense and conjured up a complete implosion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as a result:
[Pirro] hailed Sullivan as “a jurist unafraid of the swamp, a judge who has a track record of calling out prosecutorial misconduct, a man who does not tolerate injustice or abuse of power.” She suggested Flynn’s guilty plea might be thrown out: “The amazing part of it is, if he does it, then the house of cards of Robert Mueller falls.”
But, as The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake explained, that’s not at all what happened:
At Flynn’s sentencing, Sullivan made a point of making sure that Flynn stated (and restated) that he lied to the FBI, that he knew it was wrong to do so and that he accepted responsibility. Sullivan asked Flynn whether he knew that lying to the FBI was illegal, and Flynn said, “I was aware.” The judge gave Flynn several chances to withdraw his guilty plea, and Flynn opted to proceed.
Pirro was not the only Fox News Trumper to tout the “FBI entrapment” accusation. The same talking points were echoed by Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich, and, of course, Sean Hannity.
Today, Trump worshiper Harris Faulkner was on deck for Fox when the sentencing was put off. Without skipping a beat, she whipped out the new talking point during a discussion with Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), of the House Judiciary Committee.
Faulkner told Cicilline she wanted to “lean on your expertise” and she did not dispute his claim that the “Flynn was snookered” argument had been completely destroyed. But then Cicilline said that Flynn’s lies raise questions about why he was “keeping secrets” about his conversations with the Russian ambassador and “what else is there?”
Suddenly, Faulkner was not leaning on Cicilline’s expertise so much. “Let me stop you there,” Faulkner interrupted. “Because you’re talking about lying to the FBI, lying to Congress. Those have been the things that people have been found guilty of, among the list of tax fraud and bank fraud by Michael Cohen and so on and so forth.”
Faulkner showed zero curiosity about why Flynn might have lied to the FBI. Instead, she moved the conversation to the “interesting” (and safer-for-Trump) subject of Flynn illegally lobbying for Turkey. “I want to get your take on just that segment of it,” Faulkner said.
“I don’t think it’s just ‘interesting,’ I think it’s a crime,” Cicilline replied. Noting that Mueller’s team had declined to prosecute Flynn for that crime in addition to recommending “no jail” for lying to the FBI, Cicilline added, “So you have to wonder, what’s the full nature of Mr. Flynn’s cooperation, he’s been interviewed 19 times, has a lot to say, apparently.”
Faulkner grew visibly uncomfortable. As she ended the discussion, she said, “What we didn’t see is any tie to the president of the United States. In fact, this judge doubled down on … that there were people in the White House that did not know what General Flynn was doing, potentially.” Coincidentally, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) echoed the same talking point on the network.
There may well have been “people in the White House” “potentially” unaware of what Flynn was up to. But independent journalist Marcy Wheeler persuasively argues that Flynn’s lies, now revealed in documents released by the prosecutors before today’s hearing, served to protect Trump. And, really, absent evidence that Flynn was acting as a rogue agent, why wouldn’t he have been in cahoots with Trump?
But don’t worry, if and when that information goes mainstream, Faulkner, et al. will find some other excuse to condone Trump's behavior.
Watch Faulkner defy common sense below, from the December 18, 2018 Outnumbered Overtime.
The beauty of such arrangements is that not only are his henchmen giving him an income stream, they are also supplying him with compromising material on themselves that he can store away for any time he feels the need to pull their guilty strings.
After all, it’s exactly the same as Putin’s way of controlling him…