In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Emily Maitlis.
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Tonight, the net
tightens around Trump.
Michael Flynn, his former
National Security Advisor pleads
guilty to lying to the FBI.
Was he ordered to do
so by the President's son-in-law?
And where does this take
the Mueller investigation now?
We're live in Washington
with those who can explain.
Also tonight, ten years ago,
police raided Damian Green's office
and stumbled across porn
on a computer.
Is it in the public
interest that they tell us?
Many Conservative MPs want to know
what another police are playing at.
Any information they found was
obtained using police powers. They
found nothing illegal and yet
evidence is now being put in the
What were those
former police officers doing?
We'll ask this former
and a senior Tory MP.
And, we have new pictures
from besieged Eastern Ghouta -
just outside the Syrian capital,
Damascus, where we find shocking
evidence of widespread starvation -
Is this the worst humanitarian
catastrophe in what has proved
a vicious civil war?
He lied, and he lied, and he lied,
and tonight he pleaded guilty
to those lies, appearing before
the court in Washington.
Michael Flynn was President Trump's
National Security Advisor who spent
weeks protesting his innocence
in dealings with Russia.
Today, he appears to have agreed
to a deal with federal prosecutors -
which may yet lead them
to the President's door.
This evening, US networks
are reporting that Flynn is prepared
to testify that Donald Trump's
son-in-law directed him
to make contact with the Russians
before he took office.
Flynn's decision to cooperate
with the investigation led
marks a major escalation
in the scandal that has dogged
Trump's presidency since he took
office - although the President's
lawyer insists it implicates
no one but Flynn himself.
Where will it lead?
We head to Washington in a moment,
first, a look at the day's events.
This was the moment many
had been waiting for.
A guilty plea by one at the top
officials in the original
Michael Flynn accepted
he had lied to the FBI
about his communications
He is no stranger to controversy.
If I, a guy who knows this business,
if I did a tenth of
what she did, I would
be in jail today.
It was in the 2016 presidential
campaign that Michael Flynn
and Donald Trump became close.
Lock her up, that's right.
The Lieutenant General
was a passionate supporter
of Trump and his
Defending the Mexican Wall to me,
when I caught up with him at the
As a military man, when he is
talking about building a wall.
When he is talking about a ban...
Yeah, we're going to build a wall.
What's the matter
with building a wall?
I just visited the Vatican.
The Vatican has one
of the highest walls around it.
Why does the Vatican
have a wall around it?
His loyalty was repaid.
He was on the short list as Trump's
vice presidential pick, eventually
becoming national-security adviser.
It was an appointment
that President Obama himself
had warned against, telling
Trump the day after the election
not to bring Flynn
into the White House.
The beginning of his downfall came
even before he was in the job.
Allegations surfaced of a meeting
he held with the Russian ambassador
Conversations Flynn first denied
having, then remembering.
He hung on for the best part
of a month, was fired just 24
days into the job, when it
became clear he'd misled
the vice president, Mike Pence,
with his lies.
The president was
very concerned that
General Flynn had misled the vice
president and others.
The evolving and eroding level of
trust as a result of the situation
and a series of other
questionable instances is
what led the president to ask
for General Flynn's resignation.
Trump also then asked
the FBI director James Comey
to end his investigation
into ties between Flynn and Russia,
that was according to news
reports at the time.
Trump denied making such
a request but he fired Comey
some months later.
Comey was quick to set
straight his side of the story.
The administration then
chose to defame me,
and more importantly,
the FBI, by saying that the
organisation was in disarray.
That it was poorly led.
That the workforce had lost
confidence in its leader.
Those were lies, plain and simple.
Today's guilty plea
accompanies Flynn's promise to
cooperate in the probe but the real
question in all this is what
chief prosecutor Robert
Mueller really wants.
Flynn appears to have already cut
a deal to shorten a possible
five-year prison sentence.
Muller will want
something big in return.
The prize many think
he has his eyes on?
Seth Abramson is an attorney
and writer who repeatedly accused
the Trump campaign of collusion
with the Russian Government.
He is in New Hampshire.
And Ron Christie is
a Republican Strategist.
He's in our Washington Bureau.
Gentlemen, great to have you both.
Thank you. Seth, tell us how big you
think this is. For our audience,
what is the most serious charge now?
This is the biggest news in the
Russia process far by a fairly good
distance. It means a prosecutor
doesn't offer this order plea
agreement to the defendant, unless a
defendant can offer incriminating
evidence to someone who is above
them on the chain of command. And
someone who is above the national
security adviser would be the
president and vice president of the
You don't think this
is about wheeling in Jared Kushner,
the President's son-in-law, you
think this goes to trump's doorstep?
There are a number of people in the
hierarchy which includes Donald
Trump junior and Jared Kushner who
may be looked at that you would not
offer this sort of deal which was a
sweetheart deal for Mike Flynn,
unless you are going up the chain of
command rather than laterally.
are not seriously suggesting this
could indicate both the president
and vice president? Where would that
leave the administration?
All of the
allegations right now against Mr
Quint involve his behaviour and
negotiations over sanctions while he
was on the transition team. A
statement says Mike Flynn spoke to
very senior officials on the
transition team while he was engaged
in these negotiations. Jared Kushner
has already been identified as one
of those officials, but people
suspect Mike Pence could be one of
the others as he was running the
Ron, I will bring
you in and is a brave Republican to
try and defend this tonight. What do
you make of what you are hearing?
Good evening, Emily. I am not as
troubled by Seth is as what unfolded
here today. Let me explain this. As
someone who worked for a
presidential transition back in 2004
the Bush administration, you are
working in a government building,
write but find us here in
Washington, DC. You are doing
everything you can to transition so
when the president of the United
States leads the parade route and
walks into the White House, the
staff are up and fully running. On a
daily basis, as a domestic policy
adviser, it would be your job to
speak to other officials in the
government. I would surmise that is
a national security adviser, coming
into the administration, it would be
your job to establish relations with
foreign ambassadors in the United
States, who are serving their
nations. So the notion that Mr Flynn
lied, that is his responsibility,
and that is why he was fired 25 days
into the trump administration by the
president himself, for those lies,
for which he was implicated and
indicted today. To suggest this goes
to be president or the vice
president themselves, I think that
is way to spec litter that this
point and there is no evidence in
fact to prove that allegation. --
point and there is no evidence in
fact to prove that allegation. --.
Is there anything wrong with what
Flynn is now accused of doing?
be clear the allegations right now
are not that Mr Flynn was trying to
establish a range of ship with the
Russians in December 2016, it is
that he was negotiating US policy on
sanctions and Israel, before he and
Mr Trump were actually the legal
government of the United States, and
that is a violation under the Logan
act which is very rarely enforced,
but it has to do with citizens
illegally negotiating with foreign
governments, having no colour
authority to do so. Having said
that, let's understand the
allegations which came out today and
what Mr Flynn pledged to is only the
smallest point of what he told Mr
Muller and he was careful to shield
what he knew about Mr Flynn's
conversations in his charging
Ron, I'm trying to work
out if you are representative of
other Republicans or is there a
growing voice which says this is
becoming too big to ignore?
come at this from the perspective of
being a lawyer and having served in
the White House and four years, and
knowing what it is like to bring the
government up to speed so the
president and vice presidents can
But you would never
have done these things. You would
never have set up meetings with
ambassadors period, would you?
would not have, absolutely not. But
the Logan act which was passed in
1799 says it is illegal for private
citizens to interfere with official
government business. I was content
to you as a lawyer, if you're
working in a federal office building
in the United States, and you're
bringing the president and vice
president into office, it is not Ed
Ling as a private citizen of any
conversations he might have.
Presumably, just back to you, Seth,
if he has pleaded guilty to lying to
the FBI and he has cut some sort of
deal, what would that look like? We
are not used to plea bargaining
here, talk us through it.
pleaded guilty to a one to five year
sentence in prison, but he could see
no time in federal prison
whatsoever. Mr Christie keeps
referring to federal buildings being
used for the transition, it should
be clear from the statement of the
offence that Mr Flynn was having
contact with quote very senior
officials in the transition who were
in Florida, not in a federal
building, and at the time is the
Flynn was having those buildings, Mr
Trump was in Florida.
I'm not a
defender of Mr Trump or Mr p. I
speak from experience which suggests
that where the president elect or
the vice president elect might be.
Just because they are not physically
in the office building I am making
reference to does not mean it is
nefarious, that he was at Mara Lago.
I will agree with you on this.
Seth's comments, as a lawyer I look
at this and say the special counsel
is clearly going higher, because the
crimes he was alleged to have
committed would have put him in jail
for 20 plus years. There is clearly
someone else that General Flynn will
be co-operating with with the
special counsel, that could take us
even further inside the gates of the
White House. And as to who that
person is or who the persons might
be, I think that is what the next
parlour game here in Washington is,
who is next?
We have run out of time
but thank you for joining us.
The case of pornography found
on a minister's office computer
is one of two things: the story
of a Deputy PM who's
Or the story of a police officer
who's overreached his powers.
Today, Theresa May's deputy,
Damian Green, strongly denied once
again that he had downloaded
or viewed pornography
on his office computer.
It came as a response to the claims
of a retired police detective,
Neil Lewis, who said thousands
of legal images
were found on it nine years ago,
and that the investigation
at the time should
never have been closed.
He believes it was in the public
interest to reveal this now.
Scotland Yard is investigating him
leaking the confidential material.
So, who do you trust?
And how comfortable are we with
the way this has emerged?
We'll speak to a former police
officer and to Green's colleague
First, here's David Grossman.
It is worth reminding ourselves why
police came to search computers in
Damian Green's office. The Home
Office claimed a threat to national
security. The Cabinet Office asked
the net to find the mole. Without a
warrant they persuaded the Commons
authorities to let them search
Damian Green's Parliamentary office.
There was outrage among MPs,
especially as police concluded he
had not committed a public offence.
The then Director of Public
Prosecutions who throughout the case
is now a Labour Shadow minister.
have concluded the information leak
was not secret information or
information affecting national
Skip forward nine years
and retired police officers are now
alleging that Mr Green's computer
had pornography on it, although
nothing illegal. Former PC Neil
Lewis examined one of the
computers in 2008, and has spoken
exclusively to BBC News.
shocking thing was as I was feeling
it, I noticed a lot of pornography
thumbnails, which indicated web
browsing. But a lot, a lot of them.
Mr Green, however, denies having
done anything wrong.
I have said I
am not commenting any further while
the investigation is going on. I
have maintained all along, I still
maintain it is the truth that I did
not download or look at pornography
on my computer. But obviously, while
the investigation is going on, I
can't say any more.
The raid on Mr Green's Parliamentary
office was controversial at the time
and it is controversial again. Many
MPs want to know what the police are
playing at. Any information they
found was found using police powers.
There was nothing illegal but
evidence is now being put into the
public domain for that there is
anger that former Constable Lewis
has kept his notebook of the
investigation after retirement and
is showing it to reporters.
decade later, based on one surviving
evidential source, a notebook which
Constable Lewis has kept in his
possession after retirement. It
seems more than a little odd.
allegation against Mr Green has come
not only from former Constable Lewis
but from the more senior Assistant
Commissioner, Bob quick. Is this the
police getting involved in politics?
I don't think so. There are plenty
of politicians around that the
police dislike more than Damian
Green. He would not be top of the
list. I know him a little and he is
an honest man with integrity. I
would not anticipate he is doing
this maliciously or anything else.
It would just appear to be you have
police officers with some
information and they have shared it
in the way they have.
politics is getting Commper coated.
Cabinet Office investigations into
the conduct of Damian Green is
expected to report imminently. The
Brexit secretary, David Davis, has
apparently told friends he may
resign if Damian Green is forced
Dominic Grieve is a Conservative MP,
former Attorney General
and was Shadow Home Secretary
at the time
of Damian Green's arrest in 2008.
Tim Brain is former Chief Constable
Very nice of you both to come in
this evening. Do you accept this was
unacceptable behaviour? It is
chilling that police should have
your computer and once they have it
they can use it against you whenever
They are not using a
computer against you, we are looking
at notes that the others are kept
and has kept for a long time. I
don't know if he was told to destroy
them. Interesting he was told to
destroy them. I find that quite an
interesting observation that was
made. I have got at home lots of
police records that go back 40 years
of that there is nothing odd about
individual officers keeping their
own notes. No one has ever told me
to destroy any of that. We're not
looking at the computer, we are
looking at somebody's collection of
what is considered to be important.
We have to put this into context of
has unravelled. Have to go back to
the Weinstein revelations and the
moral panic that gripped Westminster
in the immediate aftermath of that.
Allegations were made. Cabinet
Office enquiry has opened up and
police officers have come forward
with what bigoted to be relevant
information to that in choir in.
That is what we are talking about.
-- they believe to be relevant
Do think it is about
whether a minister has had
pornography on his computer?
It is a
workplace computer. Are we happy
that our MPs can have this kind of
material on what is an official
computer? As a member of the public,
I would like to know the answer to
that. Nobody is doubting the fact
there is some kind of electronic
trace of this particular deal on a
computer. We need to have some
answers. Now this information is in
the public domain.
Let's ask Dominic
Are you happy? This cannot
be right. Other citizens do not have
these powers to investigate crime,
including carrying out acts like
acquiring data that nobody scan. It
is for the purpose of a criminal
investigation. -- else can. They
acquire that information, whether it
is correct or not. Many years later
they decide to put it into the
public domain because we think it
will make an important point. They
are in breach of their own code of
conduct. If they thought it was
relevant to this enquiry, what they
should have done was to go to
Cressida Dick, the Chief
Commissioner, and to say, might this
be relevant to the inquiry being
carried out at the Cabinet Office?
And then it would be handed over.
Lewis offered to go to the inquiry
but they did not take him up on it.
There is this information about the
minister who was back in the
spotlight shouldn't they be doing
the public service by coming forward
and saying yes, we remember this,
even if it was a decade ago?
Certainly not. I was Attorney
General. In my time as Attorney
General I have acquired allsorts of
information which would be grossly
improper for me to put into the
Even if there was
pornography which was being looked
at by Damian Green? You are saying
no relevance now.
The police went to
Westminster in 2008 because there
was an allegation of a breach of the
Official Secrets Act. They carried
out a pack handed investigation
which attracted a lot of criticism.
I don't know what they found in the
course of that enquiry but it is
apparent what they found is not
criminal. Even on their own say-so
it did not lead to any criminal
prosecution, nor any criminal
investigation, a separate one. Eight
years later, they choose to put
material which an ordinary citizen
would be prohibited from acquiring
under data protection rules into the
public domain on their own judgment.
There is a way of dealing with that.
If you think something is relevant,
you do it by proper official means
also you do not go freelancing, as
these officers have done. It has the
smack of the police state about it.
It is worrying. Is it about a
I think we have to look at
Mr Lewis today. I have never seen
that officer before in my life until
we have seen the images today for
some he does not strike me as a
vengeful person going through a
series of vengeful acts. Was he
right to do it? We have to look at a
different motivation. Police
officers can feel very strongly
about information they might feel
the public should know about that is
being suppressed. These officers are
taking a risk in doing what they are
doing. The first risk is the
internal enquiry. The second risk is
the court of public scrutiny through
a slander or libel action. They have
taken a big risk. I asked the
question, why have they been able to
take the big risk, other than they
feel it is information which should
get into the public domain?
should happen now? Should it go to
Cressida Dick? Should the PM
dismissed the investigation as a
result of these actions?
you? There was an allegation against
Damian Green of misconduct, which is
being enquired into by the Cabinet
Office. He denies it was that it is
a serious allegation and quite
rightly it should be investigated. I
am not sure I understand the alleged
link between that enquiry on the
allegations of an illegal kind which
was found on his computer. He denied
the access to it. You believe it.
The issue at the moment is, is it
proper for two retired police
officers in breach of the police
code of conduct to take information
which they acquired, or say they
acquired, during the course of a
criminal investigation it into the
We know that with
historic cases, people are always
been blamed for not coming forward
with information they had at their
We give the police
powers others do not have. They do
not and must not be allowed to abuse
those powers full stop there are
ways of dealing with allegations.
The police thought this was
relevant. There are perfectly clear
channels for dealing with it. Not by
going to the press.
What we are
seeing here is exactly what the
politicians would like, to focus on
the police are not themselves.
you both very much indeed.
On Monday, we brought
you extraordinary and distressing
pictures from Eastern Ghouta -
the part of Syria just outside
the capital Damascus -
that has been under siege for years.
This week, the United Nations called
for the urgent evacuation
of hundreds of the sick and injured.
And tonight, this programme has
gathered evidence that
food shortages have led to child
and the most widespread malnutrition
of the vicious civil war.
Here's Mike Thomson -
and a warning
that it contains distressing images.
This is what siege means. Young
children are among the first to
suffer. This is an eight-year-old
child. Who in the world would accept
Do you think it is normal? He
should be taller and stronger.
nearly four years of siege, the
third of children surveyed in
eastern Ghouta are stunted, due to
We are nine people in
the house. We have one meal a day
until the next morning. At night he
does not sleep. He would pick up
anything off the floor to eat.
only tiny amounts of aid now
trickling in, the UN says the plight
of the area per flight children has
reached crisis proportions.
manager issued today is five times
higher than it was ten months ago
when we did, or the last
malnutrition assessment, close to
12% of children are facing today
acute malnutrition in eastern
Ghouta. That is the highest level of
the cute malnutrition we have ever
recorded across Syria.
little food for sale in the markets
and the prices are now beyond the
reach of most. Bread costs 85 times
the price it does in neighbouring
Damascus. And, as winter sets in,
the price of a cylinder of gas has
It is not enough that
we are hungry and cold. We are
covering ourselves with nylon sheets
to keep as warm and lighting fires
to cook. God help us extra is what
we are like barn animals now. We eat
What can I say? With few if
any nutrients to hand out, doctors
are Rovman Powell is to help.
witnessing incidents where children
are fainting at school because
parents are sending their children
to school without having breakfast,
and sometimes without even having
dinner. Within 24 hours a child
sometimes receives no meals.
food and medical supplies vanishing,
and this week plus my brief
ceasefire now at an end, the UN is
desperately trying to get those with
the most urgent medical needs
evacuated. Local officials insist
the area's malnourished children
must be brought out too.
If we wait
another month, 11th percent of
children, most of them will die. --
11%. Most of them are critical.
recent weeks, many families have
lived in their basements, the only
places offering shelter from the
bombs and mortars. But there is no
refuge from hunger.
We are picking
up anything we can, even food from
the bins. My twin babies are dying.
We need milk come just for the
twins. Everything is expensive. For
the sake of God, open the road. We
are dying, dying of hunger.
created this hunger, bringing the
rebel enclave to its knees, only
victory might persuade the Syrian
government to break its own siege.
Lina Khatib is head
of the Middle East programme
at the Chatham House think tank.
Just seeing some of those images
seems incomprehensible. This is
meant to be the de-escalation zone,
an area where things are getting
Actually, things never got
better in Ghouta. It has been under
siege for four years now. It is only
nominally part of the de-escalation
zone agreement. We are seeing an
escalation, as we can see. The
ceasefire that was in place for a
short period of time has quickly
ended. Since mid-November we have
seen around 250 air strikes in the
The humanitarian corridor has
been shut off by the forces of
Assad. Why is that still in place if
he feels dominant there?
He does not
yet feel he has one. The strategy
the regime is using in eastern
Ghouta has been used in other areas
which got a lot of media attention
because there was a famine in that
area. It was used in homes and also
eastern Aleppo. It is a strategy.
Until the regime is satisfied that
the rebel groups holding these areas
have essentially broken down, it
will not lift the siege.
Unfortunately it is not over yet in
If you're looking
and saying there should be used that
the absence of ices should have
given Syrian people hope, shouldn't
it? -- Isis.
This is the problem
when only the terrorist angle is
focused upon. The conflict is about
more than terrorism. It is
essentially about a regime that has
been oppressing its people and this
oppression contributed to the rise
of terrorism and other things. So,
Ghouta has nothing to do with Isis.
It has been running parallel to the
Isis problem. In four years of
sieges, Isis only rose since 2013.
Ghouta was under siege since 2013.
When you look back over this period,
what are the strategic points
missed? Should there have been an
intervention on Assad sooner Cuesta
was when Putin came in? What do you
At various points, the West
could have done a number of things
it did not do. Very early on there
could have been some form of
diplomatic brokering that did not
happen. Some say the red line drawn
in the sand by President Obama in
2013 when he said the US would
attack whether evidence of use of
chemical weapons in Syria, a lot of
people say that was a mistake will
stop a lot of things could have
happened and did not happen.
you very much indeed for joining us.
From all of us here on Newsnight.
Good night. We
Good night. We will be back on