Tuesday Reads: Flynn Resigns. Who Will Be Next?Posted: February 14, 2017
Chaos has become our day-to-day reality. Every morning I wake up to more insanity in the news. Yesterday it was tRump conducting national security discussions in the middle of a public dining room using an unsecured cell phone (See Dakinikat’s Monday post). Now the pace of crazy has sped up even more–last night a 11PM I got a call from Dakinikat telling me Michael Flynn had resigned (I was watching MSNBC and they didn’t have it yet). Of course I had to stay up late and watch all the talking heads spewing nonsense about it, and now it’s Tuesday morning and I’m exhausted. Will we ever return to normal?
I don’t care for Bill Maher, but he said something on his Friday night show that I totally agree with.
They say a week is a long time in politics. But for Bill Maher, the Trump administration “happens in dog years.”
“As always with Donald Trump, there’s just too much news to get to,” said the “Real Time” host on Friday’s broadcast of the show. “There’s so much fucking crazy, it’s like three weeks of Trump is like five years of Nixon.”
You can watch it at the HuffPo link above.
That is so true. It does feel like Watergate on steroids–but it’s happening so much faster, it’s hard to keep up. Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker at The Washington Post: Upheaval is now standard operating procedure inside the White House.
With President Trump in his fourth full week in office, the upheaval inside the administration that West Wing officials had optimistically dismissed as growing pains is now embedding itself as standard operating procedure.
Trump — distracted by political brushfires, often of his own making — has failed to fill such key posts as White House communications director, while sub-Cabinet positions across agencies and scores of ambassadorships around the globe still sit empty.
Upset about damaging leaks of his calls with world leaders and other national security information, Trump has ordered an internal investigation to find the leakers. Staffers, meanwhile, are so fearful of being accused of talking to the media that some have resorted to a secret chat app — Confide — that erases messages as soon as they’re read.
The chaos and competing factions that were a Trump trademark in business and campaigning now are starting to define his presidency, according to interviews with a dozen White House officials as well as other Republicans. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss internal White House dynamics and deliberations.
Some senior officials are worried about their own standing with the president, who through his casual conversations with friends and associates sometimes seems to hint that a shake-up could come at a moment’s notice.
Much more at the link.
Of course the Flynn resignation is only the beginning. Some in the media are arguing that Trump didn’t know about Flynn’s suggestions to the Russian ambassador that the tRump administration would weaken or remove the Obama administration sanctions. Come on. Trump undoubtedly order Flynn to make the calls. Here’s what Josh Marshall wrote late last night: The Wind is Sown.
As the Russia story submerged out of view in the first days of February, the Acting Attorney General had already warned the White House about Michael Flynn’s deceptions and susceptibility to blackmail. She was fired for refusing to enforce the immigration executive order days later. Though the White House now denies it, it seems that the President and his top advisors took no action in response to these warnings….
It appears that repeated efforts were made to apprise President Trump or those around him of the situation with Michael Flynn. When those warnings were ignored, people in the national security and law enforcement apparatus went instead to the press to get the word out that way….
This is not some ill-considered discussion by Michael Flynn. The role of Russia in the 2016 election and the President’s relationship to Russia has been the un-ignorable question hanging over President Trump for months. Flynn’s resignation does not come close to resolving it. It is highly likely that the Flynn/Russia channel was authorized by the President himself. There’s much more to come.
We need to brace ourselves. This is going to get really ugly.
Yes, the DOJ warned tRump about Flynn weeks ago. The Washington Post reports: Justice Department warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say.
The acting attorney general 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 message, delivered by Sally Q. Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel, was prompted by concerns that Flynn, when asked about his calls and texts with the Russian diplomat, had told Vice President-elect Mike Pence and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, the officials said. It is unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did with the information.
In the waning days of the Obama administration, James R. Clapper Jr., who was the director of national intelligence, and John Brennan, the CIA director at the time, shared Yates’s concerns and concurred with her recommendation to inform the Trump White House. They feared that “Flynn had put himself in a compromising position” and thought that Pence had a right to know that he had been misled, according to one of the officials, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
A senior Trump administration official said before Flynn’s resignation that the White House was aware of the matter, adding that “we’ve been working on this for weeks.”
And check this out:
Yates, Clapper and Brennan argued for briefing the incoming administration so the new president could decide how to deal with the matter. The officials discussed options, including telling Pence, the incoming White House counsel, the incoming chief of staff or Trump himself.
FBI Director James B. Comey initially opposed notification, citing concerns that it could complicate the agency’s investigation.
Comey again! I think it’s time to start asking seriously whether Comey has also been compromised. Be sure to read the entire story if you haven’t already.
Politico has more White House leaks: Why Donald Trump let Michael Flynn go. Inside Donald Trump’s national security adviser’s final days in the White House.
Pence was unhappy with Flynn for not telling him the truth and told the president about his displeasure, a White House official said, but said he would accept whatever decision the president made.
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, who is close with Steve Bannon, his strategist, was aware of the uncertainty about Flynn’s future and the concerns in Trump’s orbit but tried to telegraph on TV that the adviser wasn’t in trouble hoping the storm could pass, one person familiar with her thinking said.
“General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president,” Conway said.
Her appearance created waves in Trump’s orbit, and Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, who has expressed displeasure about Conway to associates, immediately put out a statement that seemed to contradict her.
“The president is evaluating the situation,” Spicer said soon after Conway’s remarks.
One person who frequently speaks to Trump said the president was reluctant to ditch Flynn because he doesn’t “like to fire people who are loyal.” Even Monday evening, Trump was still pondering the decision, the person said.
“He has this reputation of being a ‘you’re fired’ kind of guy, but he really didn’t want to have that conversation,” the person said.
Whatever. I don’t believe for one minute that tRump didn’t know exactly what Flynn was up to. And how is Russia reacting to the loss of Flynn–their good friend in the White House?
The Washington Post reports: Russian lawmakers rush to the defense of Trump’s ex-national security adviser.
MOSCOW — Leading Russian lawmakers rushed to defend President Trump’s former national security adviser on Tuesday after he resigned for misleading senior White House officials, including Vice President Pence, about his contacts with Russia.
The heads of the foreign affairs committees in both Russia’s upper and lower houses of parliament chalked up Michael Flynn’s resignation to a dark campaign of Russophobia in Washington, and said it would undermine relations between the White House and the Kremlin.
Konstantin Kosachev of the upper house wrote in a post on Faceboo
k that readiness for dialogue with Moscow was now seen in Washington as a “thoughtcrime,” a reference to the George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.
“To force the resignation of the national security adviser for contacts with the Russian ambassador (normal diplomatic practice) is not even paranoia, but something immeasurably worse,” he wrote. “Either Trump has failed to gain his desired independence and is being cornered consistently (and not without success), or Russophobia has infected even the new administration, from top to bottom.”
Here’s one more “bombshell” for you from Raw Story: Michael Flynn may have used encryption to hide Russia talks from US.
Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Schiff explained that the Trump administration was not labeling allegations against Flynn as “fake news” because U.S. intelligence agencies may have audio recordings of him speaking to Russian officials while President Barack Obama was still in office.
“They know that if there is a transcript, if there are recordings, that can’t be dismissed,” Schiff said. “The fact that they would mislead the country about this is inexplicable.”
“What I think is interesting here, there are allegations — again, as yet unproven — that they may have also used encrypted communications,” he added. “Since Flynn was talking with the Russians, if he was using encrypted communications, it wasn’t to conceal it from the Russians. Then you have to ask, who were they concealing conversations from?”
According to Schiff, the allegations suggest that Flynn engaged in encrypted communications in addition to the un-encrypted discussions that were reportedly recorded by U.S. intelligence agencies.
“This is something that I think we need to determine as part of an investigation,” he said. “But if there were then the question is, why were those being used? Who were those conversations to be concealed from, why was it necessary to go to that if you were simply talking about Christmas greetings as Sean Spicer apparently misrepresented to the country?”
Wow. Who will be next to go? I imagine Mike Pence is happily waiting around until he gets to be POTUS.
I know I’ve only scratched the surface of the breaking news coming out of tRumpland. What are you hearing. What do you think. Let us know in the comment thread below.