Flynn: From 'lock her up' to (maybe) locked up

See Michael Flynn walk into court
See Michael Flynn walk into court

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    See Michael Flynn walk into court

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See Michael Flynn walk into court 00:51

(CNN)Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has now admitted to lying to the FBI and, as part of a deal with the special counsel, agreed to cooperate with the broader investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged ties with Russia. A judge will ultimately determine if he goes to prison, and for how long.

This is the same man, with the same sharp and unforgiving mien, who stood up at the Republican National Convention sixteen months before ago to rail about the rule of law, leading a chant -- "lock her up" -- directed at Hillary Clinton.
Flynn's RNC speech began as a political one and ended, as if for a second time, on Friday as a monument to absurdist hypocrisy. In the arena that night, his remarks ran a little more than 26 minutes. For the first 20, Flynn, a bit wooden with his delivery, struggled to key up the crowd.
Until he settled in directly on Clinton.
    "We do not need a reckless President who believes she is above the law," he blared, the arena meeting his declaration with those familiar words.
    "Lock her up!" Lock her up!"
    Sensing the spark, Flynn joined in.
    "Lock her up," he said, his voice climbing. "That's right." The chants grew louder. "Yeah, that's right, lock her up." Flynn clapped along to their rhythm. "I'm gonna tell you what, it's unbelievable. It's unbelievable." In that moment, he was with them -- aggrieved, disbelieving.
    "I use 'hashtag never Hillary,' that's what I use," Flynn said. He wasn't done.
    Behind him, the words are set out on a gold background: "Make America Safe Again." He was flanked by images of Clinton. She is looking down. Looking guilty.
    "I have called on Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race because she -- she -- put our nation's security at extremely high risk with her careless use of a private email server," Flynn said to whistling approval. "Lock her up -- lock'er up!"
    In that moment a smile began to form on his face. "You guys are good. Damn right, exactly right. There's nothing wrong with that." The shouts continued, louder still.
    "And you know why we're saying that? We're saying that because if I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth, a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today. So ... so: Crooked Hillary Clinton -- leave this race now!"
    A few weeks earlier, Clinton sat down with the FBI for questioning over her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Her campaign said at the time the interview lasted more than three hours. No charges followed, even as the dark clouds of the probe followed Clinton, and voters, all the way through to Election Day.
    There are, it was all but confirmed on Friday, many more pages of the Russia story still unwritten. But for Flynn, who gave that speech, and led that chant, to now be looking at possible jail time for his lies -- that's one heck of a turn. By any standard.