Details of the plea deal former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn struck with Special Counsel Robert Mueller recently are still slowly trickling out. For example, a clause in the deal surfaced that caused one legal scholar to declare “Checkmate!” As in, it’s over for Donald J. Trump, as he interprets the deal.
Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe explained it like this: “Flynn’s plea deal, unlike nearly all other plea deals, includes a sweeping, open-ended pledge by Flynn to cooperate fully with any state & local prosecutors Mueller might designate — which defangs Trump’s power to shield himself by firing or pardoning people. Checkmate!”
Bill Palmer points out,”First, let’s say that Trump decides to pardon Flynn on all federal charges, in a belated attempt at preventing Flynn from continuing to rat him out. Flynn would still be at the mercy of state level prosecutors such as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who could either charge Flynn based on his confession, or force Flynn to cooperate in any state-level charges that are brought against Trump. Second, even if Trump fires Mueller, Flynn will still be locked into helping to take down Trump on a state level. It seems a given that any additional high ranking targets who cut a deal will be subject to this same clause.”
This basically mean that that Donald Trump won’t get far if/when he tries to play the pardon card for himself or anyone else he tries to protect.
Not only is it too late for Trump to try to pardon people – he would’ve needed to pardon Flynn before his plea deal, and would’ve needed to fire Mueller months ago -, but what the Flynn plea deal also does is it takes away Trump’s bargaining chip in the event that he tries to bribe anyone with a pardon. It’s highly doubtful anyone is going to protect Trump in exchange for a pardon, as they now know they won’t be getting one.
Donald Trump is going to lose this battle. It’s just a matter of how soon Robert Mueller wants to make that happen.