Monday, February 13, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He abruptly distanced himself from his own National Security Advisor after reports that US intelligence agencies had caught Michael Flynn in a lie about his Russia contacts. [UPDATE: Flynn resigned shortly after this was posted amid revelations that he is vulnerable to Russian blackmail.]

Flynn, who was fired from the Obama administration for mismanagement of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is one of a number of Trump administration officials with close financial and personal ties to the Putin regime. On Christmas Day, immediately before Obama administration sanctions against Russia went into effect, Flynn phoned the Russian ambassador to the United States. 

The timing immediately raised concerns that Flynn was conducting illegal negotiations on behalf of the incoming Trump administration, which had benefited from Russian interference in the election. Flynn denied that he had discussed the sanctions. This now appears to have been a lie

Trump pointedly refused to declare his support for Flynn in remarks tonight, and has reportedly approved a search for Flynn's replacement. 

Why would anyone think this was a bad thing?

  • If Flynn was acting on his own, it speaks poorly of Trump's judgment in hiring a man who had already been fired for cause from a national security position.
  • If Flynn was acting on Trump's orders and undercutting the United States government on Russia's behalf, then it becomes a situation that is impossible to talk about using polite words
  • Either way, it is incredibly bad if the president's National Security Advisor is the target of a counterintelligence investigation.