In one of my recent blogs, I marveled at how so many were more concerned about Russia meddling in our 2016 Presidential election than they were about what that meddling disclosed about Hillary Clinton. To me, by far the more troubling issue was the (lack of) integrity of one seeking to be our President than another country butting into our business. Don’t they—and we—do that all the time, or at least quite often? Russia spies on us; we spy on them.
It seems we are again confronted by a need to prioritize our concerns. And, ironically, there is somewhat of an overlap.
Mike Flynn, then still only President Elect Donald Trump’s unconfirmed nominee to serve as National Security Adviser—i.e., a “mere” private citizen—held telephone conversations with his Russian counterpart-in-waiting about sanctions just visited on Russia by then President Barack Obama in response to Russia’s meddling in our elections. Such communications by a private citizen—even one soon likely to be more than just a private citizen—violated U.S. law. Perhaps even worse, when questioned about whether he had discussed the sanctions with Russia’s representatives, Flynn lied, to Vice President Mike Pence, among others. He said he hadn’t had any such discussions.
It also turns out that Trump may have known—possibly encouraged—Flynn’s unlawful conversations. And knowingly sat silently by when Flynn denied what had taken place, watching Pence in good faith fall on his sword, incorrectly denying the scope of those conversations. If so, is that extraordinary, or merely par for the course?
Trump played dumb (pun intended?) about what Flynn had done until the facts were clear and Flynn was forced to ‘fess up. Only then did Trump say to Flynn, “You’re fired!” One wonders for exactly what he was fired, his unlawful conduct or his not doing a better job of concealing it.
But there is another troubling aspect to this saga. How did Flynn come to be outted? The exact details of the answer to that question are not yet entirely clear, at least not to me. However, it appears that Flynn was politically assassinated by our own intelligence agencies. It turns out they were monitoring the calls of the Russian official with whom Flynn spoke (just one example of how we snoop around the Russians as much as they do around us, not suggesting that we don’t need to be doing that, just that we are not as pure as some might suggest). Quite by accident, because they supposedly weren’t spying on Flynn, they nevertheless had a recording or recordings of what Flynn had said to that official, and subsequently denied saying.
Regardless of your view of Trump, either in general or in this instance of possibly cavorting about with Flynn, it is highly unusual, and illegal, for U.S. intelligence agencies to leak the contents of electronic intercepts—especially to destroy a high up U.S. official. Isn’t this what police states do? Our intelligence agencies were apparently behind taking Flynn down—perhaps because they are not behind Trump.
If so, expect more leaks. Flynn was perhaps only the appetizer. Trump may be the entrée.
However, might the end justify the means if such police state behavior causes our political representatives, from the top down, to dial down their . . . alternative facts, i.e., their extreme willingness to deceive us—to lie to us—without the slightest hesitation or reservation?
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