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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

From Flynn to Facebook, Trump-related queries grow

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn at the

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 1, 2017. Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster

The Russia mess spreads, forming a daily miasma over the White House. President Donald Trump’s team appears to be in a dither. Statements of protest from Trump and his promoters that it’s all “fake news” seem stale and fruitless.

Relatives of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the short-term national-security adviser to the president and a high-profile figure in his campaign, are appealing for contributions for legal costs from the Russia probe.

On Monday, Flynn tweeted: “Lori and I are very grateful to my brother Joe and sister Barbara for creating a fund to help pay my legal defense costs.”

A controversial figure going back to his role in the Obama administration, Flynn was an early target of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating allegations of the Vladimir Putin regime’s efforts in the presidential campaign.

Much like the White House staff as a whole, Trump’s legal defenders show a less-than-disciplined front.

Private Trump lawyer Ty Cobb was overheard by a reporter in a restaurant talking about someone he deemed “a McGahn spy,” clearly referring to Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, The New York Times reported.

The story quoted him as talking about “a couple documents locked in a safe” and leaks by others who tried to “push out” Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, previously the subject of dispute among Trump’s legal team.

The sloppily displayed signs of division may make sense only behind closed doors. But the Congress is conducting a more public inquiry.

On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee is due to interview Michael Cohen, a longtime private-sector associate of Trump’s from New York, several news sites reported.

Cohen recently confirmed that the Trump Organization pursued a building project in Moscow and that he had reached out about it to a Putin spokesman.

Trump has said repeatedly he wasn’t doing business in Russia.

In the fall, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she expects Donald Trump Jr. to testify in public before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his meeting in June of last year with a Russian lawyer.

Late last week, Politico reported that another expert in money laundering joined Mueller’s team. Attorney Kyle Freeny was on hand as Jason Maloni, a spokesman for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, testified before a federal grand jury, the news site reported.

The angles of this story keep growing — such as Facebook giving Mueller information about Russian advertising buys, purportedly aimed at propagating false information on social media.

As illustrated in the extended congressional inquiry into the Benghazi attack, and the related FBI probe of Hillary Clinton and State Department emails, these multiple inquiries take on a life of their own — with a tendency to last for years.

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