What National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s Resignation Means for the Trump Administration
Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn was one of the earliest supporters of Donald Trump when the businessman announced his presidential run, and once Trump won the White House he was one of the first to be rewarded with a cabinet position – National Security Advisor.
Now, Flynn has another first under his belt – the first to be forced to resign from the Trump administration.
And rather than solve any issues in this tumultuous first month in Trump’s term, he could merely be opening the door on widespread issues for both the President and his team.
Flynn offered his resignation on the evening of February 13, after days of relentless pressure from the press regarding his interactions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn had earlier denied reports that he had spoken with Kislyak when President Barack Obama was still in office, discussing the sanctions the U.S. was putting in place against Kislyak’s country in the waning days of the Obama administration – sanctions meant to punish Russia for meddling in the U.S. presidential race.
According to the Associated Press:
While it’s not unusual for incoming administrations to have discussions with foreign governments before taking office, the repeated contacts just as the U.S. was pulling the trigger on sanctions suggests Trump’s team might have helped shape Russia’s response. They also contradicted denials about such discussions of the sanctions by several Trump administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence.
While President Trump no doubt hoped Flynn’s resignation would end the public interest in the story and settle the issue once and for all, instead it has led to even more questions. Foremost among them is whether Flynn himself was “corrupted” by his contacts with Russia, and if so, has Russia been similarly influencing anyone else in the administration – up to and including the President himself?
That question becomes even more pertinent as it has been uncovered that President Trump was advised about Flynn’s activities – as well as Flynn’s public lies on the topic – more than two weeks ago.
“The acting attorney general [Sally Yates] informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said,” the Washington Post reports. Yates was fired by President Trump shortly afterwards for refusing to defend his executive order that blocked Muslim from seven countries from entering the U.S.
Who in the administration was aware of Flynn’s potentially illegal communications with Russia – and extremely cozy dealings in general – remains to be seen. Both Democrats and Republicans are vowing to push a probe into Russia’s contacts with campaign operatives and further interaction while successfully swinging the presidential election in Trump’s favor.
President Trump, on the other hand, is vowing to focus harder on cracking down on leaks from the White House.
Meanwhile, even the best journalists of all time are questioning if this is already the end of the Trump presidency. Dan Rather, formerly of CBS News, suggests this scandal has the making of the next Watergate – the political misconduct that took down Republican President Richard Nixon.
On Facebook, Dan Rather wrote:
This Russia story started out with an avalanche and where we go from here no one really knows. Each piece of news demands new questions. We are still less than a month into the Trump Presidency, and many are asking that question made famous by Tennessee Senator Howard Baker those many years ago: “What did the President know, and when did he know it?” New reporting suggests that Mr. Trump knew for weeks. We can all remember the General Michael Flynn’s speech from the Republican National Convention – “Lock her up!” in regards to Hillary Clinton. If Hillary Clinton had done one tenth of what Mr. Flynn had done, she likely would be in jail. And it isn’t just Mr. Flynn, how far does this go?
We are still a mere 26 days into the Trump presidency. We still (potentially) have well over 1400 to go.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons