CNN's Jeffrey Toobin: Michael Flynn was "anything but a minor figure" in Trump's orbit
Toobin: "Today's guilty plea raises the question" of why "Trump so concerned about Michael Flynn not being prosecuted?"
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From the December 1 edition of CNN Newsroom with John Berman and Poppy Harlow:
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JEFFREY TOOBIN: I don't think there's any doubt it's the most significant because the only guilty plea so far has been George Papadopolous, who I think everybody agrees is a fairly minor figure. Michael Flynn is anything but a minor figure. Paul Manafort is a major figure but he's only been indicted. They haven't proved he has committed anything, any crime, so the fact that such a senior figure is pleading guilty is, obviously, of immense significance, historically as well as legally. Let me just raise one point that I think is really important. James Comey, James Comey, the FBI director, when he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, perhaps the most disturbing interaction with the president that he talked about was the one on February 14. That was the one where he was in a group meeting with a lot of senior officials, the attorney general, the vice president, and the president asked James Comey to stay behind alone and what it -- what did the president have to say to James Comey? He had to say, "Give Michael Flynn a break. Don't -- go easy on him. Don't push the investigation of Michael Flynn." And today's guilty plea raises the question, even more importantly, of why. Why was Donald Trump so concerned about Michael Flynn not being prosecuted? Now it could be that Donald Trump was just a humanitarian and he just wanted Michael Flynn, he thought Michael Flynn had given him great years of service to his country, he was sorry that he was leaving the administration, and he felt bad for the guy. That's one possibility.
Another possibility is that Donald Trump was worried what would happen if Michael Flynn was prosecuted and then talked to investigators. What did Michael Flynn know that Donald Trump was so afraid of coming out later? That February 14 conversation, I think, takes on even greater significance as a result of today's guilty plea. What did -- why was Donald Trump so worried about Michael Flynn being prosecuted? Out of all the people in the United States, why is that person the one person he talked to the FBI director and said, "Please don't pursue him?"