Possible deal for Flynn? Washington reading tea leaves

WASHINGTON (AP) — The few public signs emanating from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation increasingly raise the prospect that former national security adviser Michael Flynn is looking to cut a deal.

But many questions remain about what charges, if any, Flynn would face and whether Mueller’s prosecutors are focused on his private business dealings and truthfulness with federal agents, or if they’re looking for a bigger fish like the president himself or those who remain in his inner circle.

A plea would certainly be a Washington bombshell, putting a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and close friend of the president in a criminal courtroom and planting the sprawling investigation led by the no-nonsense former FBI director squarely in the White House.

Yet the extreme secrecy of Mueller’s investigation — including the ability to keep the lid on the arrest of a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser for months — has left even those who regularly interact with his prosecutors reading tea leaves. And it’s made sorting out the significance of recent events surrounding Flynn an amorphous — and at times partisan — exercise. Outside observers are urging caution in reading too much into the moves, while acknowledging that some are more significant than others.

“You get so few scraps of information that it’s awfully tempting to unpack what little information you have and see what’s there,” said Andrew Leipold, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law.

A critical person in Trump’s campaign and national security team, Flynn was present for consequential decisions during the formative days of the administration and functioned as a main conduit for contacts with Russian officials. He could be an essential witness for Mueller, if he chose, as he investigates potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In recent days, though, White House lawyers have downplayed the significance of Flynn’s legal troubles for the president, drawing a clear line between Flynn’s personal baggage and his work on the Trump campaign and the administration.

The feeling of suspense around the Mueller investigation only deepened this week with the cancellation of grand jury testimony, an ABC News report that Flynn’s attorney was meeting with Mueller’s team and the revelation Wednesday that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had been questioned about Flynn earlier this month by special counsel prosecutors.

Leipold, the law professor, said he would…

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