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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

News Media Gets Its First Scalp, It Will Press On To Get More Including The Big One--Trump

DANGER SIGNS: 5 Thoughts On NSA General Flynn's Ouster

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
FEBRUARY 13, 2017
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Monday evening’s shocking resignation by National Security Adviser General
Michael Flynn was historic. First, it marks the first ouster from the new Trump
 administration; second, it’s the shortest tenure by an NSA in history. But
Flynn’s resignation won’t quiet questions surrounding supposed chaos inside
the Trump administration, or questions about the relationship between
members of the Trump administration and the Russian government.
Here’s the short story.
VIDEOObama says good U.S.-Russia relations in world's interest


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Before Trump was inaugurated, Flynn was apparently in contact with the
Russian government, particularly Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak,
 with whom he allegedly discussed removing sanctions against Russia. When
President Obama levied new sanctions against Russia, Russia didn’t respond,
 instead waiting for Trump to take office; Trump congratulated Putin on his
 foresight. Flynn then told Vice President Pence and other administration
officials that he hadn’t discussed sanctions with Kislyak; Pence and those
other officials told the press that. Then it came out that Flynn had indeed
 talked about sanctions, as leakers told the press; the Department of Justice
 also informed the White House that Flynn could be compromised by Russian
 intelligence.
Here are some thoughts.
1. This Won’t Answer Questions About The Trump Team’s Ties To Russia.
This will surely reinvigorate the narrative that Vladimir Putin helped Wikileaks
 hack Democratic institutions in order to swing the election to Trump, with the
 knowledge that Trump would be far friendlier to Russia than Hillary. That’s
still speculation, of course, but the speculation will ramp up far higher than it
did before with Flynn resigning. That’s because Trump could have opted for
 a number of strategies here: he could have let Flynn apologize, then stuck by
 him; he could have simply said that he authorized Flynn to talk sanctions with
the Russians, and dared Congress to do something about it (few in the public
would have cared); he could have fired Flynn. He chose to fire Flynn, which
 seems to suggest that Trump’s trying to hide something rather than either
owning it or defending Flynn.
2. Trump’s Administration Is Going To Have Serious Leak Trouble. This
story only broke because nine sources – nine! – told the Washington Post
that the Flynn conversation apparently covered sanctions. Trump’s running
 into some serious opposition in the intelligence community, and they’re
 undercutting him with leak after leak. That means that Trump had better
 keep things buttoned down, or he’s likely to find himself on the wrong end
of scandal after scandal.
3. At Best, There’s Some Confusion In The Trump Administration. One
 of two things is true: either Flynn fibbed to Pence and White House press
secretary Sean Spicer and Trump himself, or Trump authorized Flynn to
speak with the Russians, but didn’t authorize Flynn to tell Pence and Spicer
about it. Either is possible. Both suggest that this administration is plagued by
lack of internal cohesion. The way that Flynn went out is a good indicator:
 Kellyanne Conway said on national television that Flynn had Trump’s
confidence, then within the hour Spicer said something different, and then
tonight Flynn was gone.
4. Democrats, As Always, Aren’t Interested In Truth. Democrats are mostly
interested in pillorying Trump. If this same thing had happened under Barack
 Obama, Democrats would have defended him with alacrity. They didn’t seem
 to care that UN ambassador Susan Rice lied to the American people, or that
 someone lied to her; they didn’t seem to care that President Obama was
happy to parlay with the Russians leading up to an election, and reached
out to the Iranians before he took office in 2008. They’re just interested in
 targeting Trump.
5. The Media Are Drooling. The media have a scalp now. They’re receiving
 leaks. They’re reporting. And they’re not letting up. That’s driving Republicans
 crazy, because the media went nearly AWOL for eight years while President
 Obama was in office. But that doesn’t change the reality: the media are going
to continue pressing their advantage, which means that Trump has to be
 squeaky clean.
All of this is disquieting. It suggests that despite Stephen Miller’s assurances,
it is not a “substantial understatement” to call the Trump team in control. In fact,
 this situation suggests that Trump had better take control quickly, or he risks
 his administration falling victim to scandal, leaks, and circular firing squads.
 And dishonest Democrats and a newly-motivated media won’t let him off the
hook.