See the moment Flynn gleefully texted about Russia deal at Trump inauguration


It's the next best thing to a smoking gun.

As special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Donald Trump and the Russians continues at a rapid boil, a vivid picture of where that investigation is headed emerged on Wednesday.

Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to committee chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) detailing explosive information from a whistleblower about disgraced former national security adviser and current cooperating witness Michael Flynn.

The whistleblower, whose information has been held since June at Mueller's request, says he saw a text message from Flynn giving a former business partner good news about Trump and the Russians while Trump was being inaugurated:

Today, I am writing to inform you about a whistleblower who has come forward with evidence that Lt. General Michael Flynn—within minutes of Donald Trump being sworn in as President—was communicating directly with his former business colleagues about their plan to work with Russia to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East. According to this whistleblower, General Flynn reportedly sent a key communication on Inauguration Day indicating that the project was now "good to go" and directing his business colleagues to move forward.

This information, at a minimum, helps demonstrate the Trump administration's intention to ease sanctions against Russia, a key element to the collusion that Mueller is investigating. It also opens the window on the type of cooperation that Flynn can provide Mueller as a result of his plea deal.

Symbolically, though, there's perhaps no greater summation of the Trump team's jubilant selling out of American democracy than the photo that Cummings included with his press release. As Trump made his way to the podium on Inauguration Day, a blowup of this photo shows Flynn texting with a mile-wide grin on his face:

Michael Flynn texts during Trump's inauguration
Michael Flynn texts during Trump's inauguration (Elijah Cummings/Original photo: Brendan Smialowski, AFP)

According to the whistleblower, Flynn's business associate told him that day that it was "the best day of my life," and showed him the text message from Flynn. He also directly referenced the sanctions that were the subject of Flynn's discussions with Sergey Kislyak, and which Trump's senior advisers knew about at the time:

Mr. Copson explained that General Flynn was making sure that sanctions would be "ripped up" as one of his first orders of business and that this would allow money to start flowing into the project. He blamed President Obama for the sanctions, stating that he "f*cked everything up in my nuclear deal with the sanctions."

The fact that Mueller asked Cummings to hold off on publicizing this information, and has now authorized its release, is yet another sign that even with all of the bombshells that have already gone off in this investigation, this is still just the tip of the iceberg.