Just three weeks into the Trump presidency, and his political enemies in the Washington establishment have scored big, with the forced resignation of Trump’s National Security advisor Michael Flynn. The establishment includes state intelligence agencies and aligned corporate news media, who have been gunning for Trump ever since his shock election last November.
TND Guest Contributor: Finian Cunningham
It’s a hugely damaging blow to the inner circle of the Trump White House. The US media reporting on Flynn’s resignation this week had the unmistakable air of victory-crowing. Like sharks in a pool, they smell blood.
Flynn had to go after the Washington Post and others reported that he wasn’t telling the truth about phone calls he had been holding with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition to the Trump administration. Flynn hadn’t denied the calls in late December, but he had maintained that the subject of US sanctions on Russia were not discussed.
Persistently the US media did not give up on the charges against Flynn, which shows that their confidence on the subject was underwritten by intelligence sources. Or put another way, this was an intelligence-led witch-hunt which was based on the illegal disclosure of private information.
Flynn had told the US Vice President Mike Pence that sanctions were not discussed and that the conversation with the Russian diplomat was only about seasonal pleasantries and making arrangements about a forthcoming phone call between President Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin – that call was finally made on January 28.
Pence stood by Flynn initially, telling media outlets that there was nothing untoward in the phone calls.
Legally, a private US citizen – which Flynn was at that stage before Trump became inaugurated on January 10 – is not permitted to talk about government policy with a foreign state in a presumptive official capacity.
Apparently now, as it turns out, sanctions were discussed between Flynn and Kislyak, according to FBI investigators and US officials quoted by the Washington Post. Russia has refused to comment on the nature of the phone calls.
What was Flynn thinking of? At one stage during the Obama administration, he had served as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency – one of the 16 US federal spy organizations. It seems incredible that given his expertise in matters of US state surveillance practice, Flynn could have been so reckless as to hold phone conversations with Russia’s top diplomat in Washington on national security issues outside of his then remit.
Especially considering too that Flynn was shortly about to assume office as a senior national security advisor to the new president, Donald Trump, who was already under intense media scrutiny over his alleged links to Russia.
Not only hold phone conversations, but as seems likely, Flynn broached the subject of how US sanctions levied by Obama might be lifted under the Trump administration. For Flynn not to realize that every word would be tapped by US intelligence seems an incredible lapse of judgment on his part.
The suspect phone contact occurred at the time Obama sanctioned several Russian diplomats over allegations that Russian hackers had interfered in the presidential elections. Those allegations of Russian state-sponsored hacking have never been proven.
The way the Washington Post tells it, US intelligence officials were surprised when Russian President Vladimir Putin did not reciprocate with Obama’s sanctions announced on December 29, instead choosing to respond by wishing Americans a Happy Christmas.
According to the Post, US intelligence began searching for a possible explanation for Putin’s unexpected response, and they found their putative answer in Flynn’s call to the Russian ambassador. It is claimed that Flynn indicated to the Russian diplomat that the new sanctions imposed by the outgoing Obama administration would be duly reversed by Trump.
It seems more plausible, however, that the US intelligence agents did not engage in some retrospective random search for a mole, but rather they had Flynn in their sights all along, having listened into this phone call with the Russian ambassador.
And as the Washington Post pointedly noted this week, Trump promptly praised Putin for not taking retaliatory action to Obama’s sanctions.
The inference here is that Flynn was acting as mediator with the Russians under instruction from Trump.
«The current and former officials said that although they believed that [Vice President] Pence was misled about the contents of Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador, they couldn’t rule out that Flynn was acting with the knowledge of others in the transition», reports the Washington Post.
Trump’s administration had already caused deep consternation among the Washington establishment of State Department, foreign policy think-tanks, intelligence-military apparatus and aligned corporate news media. Trump’s avowed intentions of normalizing relations with Russia before and after his election on November 8 have collided with Washington’s long-term geo-strategic agenda of fomenting hostility with Moscow.
The forced resignation of Michael Flynn, who was an influential advocate in the Trump White House for normalizing relations with Russia, can be seen as a much-desired blow against Trump over Russia – inflicted by the US Deep State operatives.
There seems little doubt that Flynn was set up in a sting operation. The only wonder is that he seemed to walk right into the trap.
It seems very likely that having procured Flynn’s scalp, the political enemies of Trump will not stop there. The big prize is Trump himself and his ousting from the presidency through impeachment on charges of conspiring with an enemy state.
All the hoopla over Flynn in the US media is just the beginning of a campaign to finger Trump as the person who gave him clearance to illicitly contact the Russians.
A soft coup against Trump by the US Deep State has been speculated for some time now, especially over his «friendly» Russia policy being at odds with the powers-that-be who are hellbent on hostility towards Moscow. And it seems that incompetence within the Trump administration is playing straight into that agenda to oust him from the White House.