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Photo: Susan Walsh / AP

Michael Flynn's guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with Bob Mueller's investigation was without doubt terrible news for President Trump and his inner circle: Flynn knows more than anyone about their dealings with Russia.

But, but, but: This doesn't necessarily mean Trump is in personal legal jeopardy, much less on the road to impeachment.

The atmosphere of hysteria is dangerous. We saw this yesterday when ABC News reported that Flynn planned to testify that he was directed by then-candidate Trump to make contact with the Russians. That sure didn't sound true. Hours later, ABC significantly softened its report, saying one source says Trump asked Flynn to contact the Russians during the transition about fighting ISIS. Huge difference.

Jeffrey Toobin, writing about Trump's lawyers ("The Russia Portfolio") in the forthcoming issue of The New Yorker, offers a gut check on how hard it will be to go after Trump, even with Flynn's help:"

  • In several conversations with me, [Trump lawyer Jay] Sekulow emphasized that collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, even if it did take place, wouldn't be illegal."
  • Sekulow: "For something to be a crime, there has to be a statute that you claim is being violated ... There is not a statute that refers to criminal collusion. There is no crime of collusion."

Toobin points to two ways Mueller could move, both difficult:

  • The Trump campaign received unlawful in-kind political contributions in the form of damaging info on Hillary Clinton.
  • The Trump campaign aided and abetted the hacking of the Clinton-related e-emails.
  • Toobin: "Nonetheless, based on the available evidence, both of these theories of criminal liability ... look like long shots for Mueller. Prosecutors tend to be cautious about pursuing criminal cases based on novel legal theories.

"This is why several White House officials worry most about a possible cover-up. Obstruction of justice is easier to prove. Remember: There's a reason Steve Bannon said the firing of James Comey will go down as the dumbest political decision in America history.

  • Toobin: "In sum, on the basis of the publicly available evidence, the case against Trump for obstruction of justice is more than plausible. Most perilously for the President, Flynn may know what Trump has to hide."
  • Go deeper: Jeffrey Toobin, "Ty Cobb, John Dowd, and Jay Sekulow are setting out to prove that there is no such crime as collusion."
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Go deeper

Updated 31 mins ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Iraqis dressed in traditional outfits greet Pope Francis upon his arrival at Erbil airport, the capital of the northern Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region, on March 7. Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting northern areas of Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.