Before he became National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn had been a controversial figure. Under Barack Obama he had served as the country’s top military spook, right up until he was canned for inflammatory Islamophobic prouncements.
But mere vulgar blatherings were no big deal to a man known for making a few himself. Indeed, they became valuable assets.
Back in November, after Trump’s win, CNN reported:
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who has been asked to serve as Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, has, on his verified Twitter account, interacted with far right and anti-Semitic figures, maligned the Muslim faith, and shared unfounded news stories.
A CNN KFile review of Flynn’s Twitter account finds that the retired lieutenant general, who once served as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, tweeted routinely with members of the so-called alt-right movement, going so far as to endorse a book by one controversial figure who regularly makes offensive comments.
Flynn faced criticism in July when he retweeted an anti-Semitic message. Flynn said the retweet was an accident and deleted the message.
Has Flynn crossed over a line in the sand?
Maybe, but it’s more likely Flynn is headed to the altar of Trumpism as a sacrificial lamb.
Allegations of secret per-inauguration talks with the Kremlin.
From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:
A top White House aide sidestepped repeated chances Sunday to publicly defend embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn following reports that he engaged in conversations with a Russian diplomat about U.S. sanctions before Trump’s inauguration.
The uncertainty comes as Trump is dealing with North Korea’s apparent first missile launch of the year and his presidency, along with visits this week from the leaders of Israel and Canada.
Trump has yet to comment on the allegations against Flynn, and a top aide dispatched to represent the administration on the Sunday news shows skirted questions on the topic, saying it was not his place to weigh in on the “sensitive matter.”
Pressed repeatedly, top policy adviser Stephen Miller said it wasn’t up to him to say whether the president retains confidence in Flynn.
“It’s not for me to tell you what’s in the president’s mind,” he said on NBC. “That’s a question for the president.”
But wait, there’s some context to consider
Compared to Richard Nixon’s track record, pre-election talks with Russia amount to chump change.
Consider Tricky Dick and H.R. Haldeman, his soon-to-be White House Chief of Staff.
Nixon and his 1968 campaign allies conducted secret negotiations with a nation the U.S. were currently fighting on the battlefield, actively pushing the North Vietnamese government to hold off on peace talks until after the election.
Nixon then campaigned as the peace candidate against then-Vice President Hubert Horatio Humphrey, promising he had a secret plan to end what was proving to be an ever costlier and bloodier morass, with most of the rest of the world aligned against the U.S. government’s relentless pursuit of an unwinnable and morally reprehensible desire to impose its will and control over an Asian nation.
The secret talks with Hanoi were rumored but unreported during Nixon’s subsequent impeachment hearings.
Haldeman ended up doing time in federal prison for conspiracy and obstruction of justice, stemming from the coverup of a secret funding-and-bugging operation to ensure a Nixon reelection win four years later the Hanoi talks.
Talk about your interfering with a presidential.
So in that context, Flynn’s alleged talks with the Kremlin on behalf of an already openly Putin-friendly candidate, while illegal and possibly criminal, didn’t cost additional U.S. citizens their lives, as did Nixon’s push to delay peace talks.