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NEWS, COMMENTARY, AND ANALYSIS

Rand Green, editor and publisher

President Trump's National Security Advisor Is Out. What Did He Do Wrong?


The Sin of Flynn

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, U.S.D.O.D. photo 2012 LT. GEN. Michael Thomas Flynn (U.S. Army, Ret.), national security advisor to President Donald Trump, submitted his resignation on Feb. 13, 2017, at the request of the president. The vultures in what is commonly known as the Mainstream Media, who had targeted Flynn for destruction, are giddy over their success in bringing down a key figure in the Administration and are salivating over their next victims.

They would like you to believe that Gen. Flynn was forced to resign because he broke the law − specifically the Logan Act of 1799 under which no one in the nation's history has ever been prosecuted − by having discussed with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in a December 29, 2016, phone conversation, the sanctions President Obama had put in place in retaliation for Russia's presumed meddling in U.S. elections.

The reality is very different. In fact, so far as the law is concerned, so far as protocol is concerned, and so far as ethics are concerned, there was nothing in what Gen. Flynn said to Ambassador Kislyak that was improper. Nor did it in any way endanger the United States or the lives or well-being of any U.S. citizens. The suggestion of impropriety was entirely an invention of the media and their Leftist cohorts .

President Trump made that clear in a press conference Feb. 16, 2017, when he said, "Mike Flynn is a fine person, and I asked for his resignation. He respectfully gave it." But the reason the president said he made that request had nothing to do with any impropriety in the conversation Gen. Flynn had with the Russian ambassador. In that regard, what Flynn did "wasn't wrong," President Trump said. And as I will explain below, the president was absolutely correct in that assessment.

Still, that leaves several questions to be answered:

1) What did Gen. Flynn say to Ambassador Kislyak?

2) How did the press find out about it?

3) How was it not a violation of the Logan act?

4) Why did the press insinuate it was illegal if it was not?

5) If Flynn did nothing wrong and said nothing out of line in his conversation with the Russian ambassador, why did President Trump ask for his resignation? Just what was the sin of Flynn that caused him to lose the president's trust? And why, oh why, would Flynn do such a thing?

Answers to these questions surfaced bit by bit, and most of those answers are now quite clear, as I will explain below.

But there are a couple of other vital questions that need to be answered as well, and these are the most important questions of all, because they have potentially far-reaching consequences for the future of our country:

6) Why was U.S. intelligence recording what Flynn said to Kislyak in the first place, and why were transcripts of that recording leaked, since both of those activities are a direct and explicit violation of the law?

7) Who was responsible for leaking extracts from the transcript of that conversation to the media, and what was the motivation for doing so?

I will discuss the answers to those questions below as well, but let me start by getting question number 5 out of the way.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained that the president's reason for letting Flynn go was "an evolving and eroding level of trust." There may be more components to this than is publicly known − or there may not. But what we do know is that in a debriefing with Vice President Pence, Flynn did not make a full report. He omitted some components of the conversation with Kislyak relevant to media accusations − specifically that they did not talk about the Russian sanctions when at least one portion of those sanctions − Obama's expulsion of Russian diplomats − was part of the conversation. Why Flynn would have left that out when there were no improprieties in those conversations is puzzling. He claimed the omissions were inadvertent and unintentional, but that seems unlikely. Did he fear the press? Did he believe the press when they insinuated he had broken the law and he therefore feared his boss? Was he trying to protect his boss? Who knows? I can't get inside the man's head. But the unfortunate thing is that the vice president took Gen. Flynn at his word when he said he had not talked about the sanctions, and on the strength of that, Pence and others in the administration assured the press that Flynn had not done so. That put the vice president, the president, and others in a very awkward position. That was what led to the erosion of trust, and therein lay the sin of the president's theretofore trusted national security advisor.

I am not alone in being mystified by Gen. Flynn's selective amnesia in his debriefing with the vice president. President Trump himself seemed puzzled by it when he said in the Feb. 16 press conference, "He didn't have to do that because what he did [in talking to the Russian ambassador] wasn't wrong." But the president also said that he was "not happy with the way that information was given" to Pence.

So just what did Flynn say to Kilsyak that the press made such a furor about?

Context is important here. Throughout the presidential campaign, Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, President Barak Obama, other Democrats, and the anti-Trump media constantly tried to paint Trump as being much too cozy with Russia and with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, while depicting Russia and its leader as mortal enemies of the United States and the rest of the civilized world. When the Democrat National Committee email server was hacked and thousands of damaging emails were leaked and published, the Democrats deflected attention away from the damning disclosures in those emails, which they never denied, and without a scintilla of evidence accused Russia of doing the hacking and leaking in order to help Trump get elected.

Earlier, Clinton had been under fire for having deleted in excess of 30,000 emails from her private server that had been subpoenaed by Congress, which in itself was an obstruction of justice that would have landed anyone else behind bars regardless of what may have been in those emails. In fact, it turns out that Clinton had classified government documents on her private server, another violation of the law, and from there, the plot just gets thicker and thicker. But that is another story.

What is relevant here is that during a presidential debate, when Clinton brought up the subject of Russians hacking the DNC, Trump made a quip that maybe the Russians could find Hillary's missing emails.

Of course, the Leftist media swarmed all over that, claiming that Trump was urging the Russians to hack Clinton's emails. It was a ludicrous leap, as those emails had already been deleted and scrubbed. If the Russians could find her emails, it would be because they had already hacked them before she had deleted them. No rational being would believe Trump was actually encouraging the Russians to hack into emails that no longer existed on Hillary's server. But then when we are talking about Clinton, the Progressive Democrats, and the Leftist media; we are not talking about rational people.

Hillary began badmouthing Russia at every turn, sounding not only belligerent but militant and provocative to the point that she seemed to be spoiling for war.

It did not end there. When Clinton lost the election, the Democrats and the Mainstream Media blamed Russia for their defeat, and they have not let up since, attempting constantly to make non-existent connections between Trump and Russia and between the outcome of the election and Russia's meddling.

U.S. intelligence agencies got in on the act, some of them making the claim that they had evidence of Russian hacking of the DNC. Clinton claimed that 17 intelligence agencies agreed on that score, but that was another Hillary lie. In fact, it now comes to light that at least one intelligence agency did not even make its own assessment but relied entirely on an assessment by an outside consulting firm with a vested interest in discrediting Russia.

Yes Russia spies on the United States. They always have. Of course they hack. They always will. We do the same. Most governments do. But as to Russia being responsible for the hacking of the DNC and the leaking of those emails, there is no evidence. It is pure conjecture on the part of Trump's adversaries.

That lack of evidence did not deter Obama from placing sanctions on Russia and telling that nation's diplomatic missions in the United States to close shop and go home.

Of great concern even than Obama's rash retaliation against Russia for a trumped-up offense is the disclosure that some U.S. intelligence agencies have become so infused with imbeds who put a political agenda ahead of professionalism and the interests of the nation that just like the mainstream press, they have lost all credibility. That is part of what Donald Trump was referring to when he talked about "draining the swamp."

The recording of both sides of the conversation between Flynn and the Russian ambassador on Dec. 29, and the subsequent leaking of transcript segments from that conversation, both a direct violation of the law, is clear evidence of that.

Flynn's conversation with Kislyak "was recorded by the FBI, pursuant to a FISA warrant which had to come from the highest levels, possibly high enough to have reached Obama himself," wrote Scott McKay in The American Spectator Feb. 15, 2017 "Then a transcript was provided to the media in order to refute Flynn’s contention he hadn’t discussed the sanctions."

But what did Flynn actually say?

As well as can be determined by published sources, Kilsyak was concerned about having just been notified that the Russian diplomats were being expelled on short notice, and he asked Flynn about that. Flynn responded by saying that the new administration, which would be in office in a few weeks, would "review everything." That's it. That's all there was to it.

"What Flynn had discussed, per an interview he did with the Daily Caller before he was forced out," wrote McKay, ”was the status of the 35 Russian diplomats Obama had expelled from the country. He contends Kislyak raised the issue and was told it would be reviewed after the inauguration — but he made no promises to the Russians."

But to the Left, that constituted Flynn as a private citizen conducting diplomatic negotiations with a foreign diplomat in violation of the Logan act − or at least they were determined to make it look that way.

Where was the outrage when Obama sent aides overseas to meet with government officials of various countries before he was even elected?

Why was there no outcry by the Mainstream Media in the United States during the Vietnam War when Hollywood celebrities openly went to Hanoi to urge the government of North Vietnam, which was on the verge of surrendering to U.S. forces, to hang in there a little longer, assuring them, "We will win the war for you back home very soon"? If ever there was a clear violation of the Logan Act, it was that, but no charges were filed, and no one on the Communist-sympathizing left ever complained.

What the Logan Act actually says is this: "Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."

So did Gen. Flynn's conversation with the Russian ambassador really constitute a violation of that 1799 law? A thousand times since its passage, there are people who have done a thousand times worse, and not one has been prosecuted under the act, although some should have been. The Democrats and the Mainstream Media know full well that Flynn did not violate the Logan Act, but that doesn't matter to them. Their battle plan was to plant the doubt, the innuendo, the accusation, in order to damage a reputation. It has become their stock-in-trade.

All Flynn was actually saying to the Russian ambassador, if he was hoping to exert any influence at all, was "Don't do anything rash. Give it some time." If anything, he was trying to keep a situation that should never have existed in the first place from escalating out of control.

Obama, Clinton, and the Mainstream Media would have been delighted to see Putin respond to the Obama sanctions with aggression. It would have served their purpose well. That could even have led to war and to martial law in the United States in advance of the Trump inauguration. Flynn's enjoining a little patience on Russia's part to prevent such escalation was very much in the best interest of the United States. What a contrast to Clinton's provocations!

The reason U.S. intelligence was recording what Flynn said to Kislyak in the first place, even though doing so was in direct and explicit violation of the law, seems baffling at first blush, but it becomes starkly obvious upon closer examination: It is part of a concerted and coordinated effort of the Left to take down the Trump administration.

Writing for the Washington Free Beacon, Adam Credo explained on Feb. 14 that "the abrupt resignation Monday evening of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump's national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House." Those sources, he wrote, "described to the Washington Free Beacon a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.

"The effort … included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn's credibility, multiple sources revealed."

Those sources are "concerned that the campaign against Flynn will be extended to other prominent figures in the Trump administration," he wrote.

In fact, Gen. Flynn is not the only person in the Trump administration whose confidential calls have been illegally monitored and leaked. President Trump himself has been a target, as segments from his private calls to heads of state − selected and edited to inflict damage − have also been leaked to the press by moles and saboteurs with malevolent intent.

Who those moles are within the intelligence community and the bureaucratic structure of the executive branch has yet to be discovered, but President Trump and the has vowed to dig them out.

The fact that "nameless, faceless bureaucrats were able to take out a president's national security adviser based on a campaign of innuendo without evidence should worry every American," Kredo wrote.

I wholeheartedly concur.

On the same theme, Michael Walch, writing for PJMedia.com Feb. 14, wrote, "Make no mistake about what's happening here: This is a rolling coup attempt, organized by elements of the intelligence community, particularly CIA and NSA, abetted by Obama-era holdovers in the understaffed Justice Department … and the lickspittles of the leftist media, all of whom have signed on with the "Resistance" in order to overturn the results of the November election."

"The politicization of intelligence and the release of classified information for use against political opponents is likely to spark a fierce firestorm in Washington," wrote Richard Pollock in the Daily Caller Feb. 14.

Retired Col. James Waurishuk, a 30-year intelligence officer who once served in the National Security Council, told the Daily Caller, “There are those in the intelligence community that are more concerned with their agendas than with national security…. Notice how the intelligence community can leak Flynn’s conversation, but there are no leaks on Hillary Clinton and Benghazi.”

"President Donald Trump’s threats of criminal prosecution over the flood of leaks that has plagued the early weeks of his administration may turn out to be far from empty talk," wrote Josh Gerstein and Bryan Bender in a Politico article Feb. 17. Should they be surprised? Rest assured it is not empty talk. The president called the offenders "low-life leakers," described their acts as criminal, and vowed, "They will be caught."

The article quoted defense attorney Ed MacMahon as saying, “If somebody disclosed the contents of intercepted phone conversations to a reporter, I could see a prosecution, for sure,” MacMahon. “That is plainly a felony.”

The Politico article continued: "Leaks of intelligence-related intercepts are typically treated more seriously than disclosures of other classified information, experts say. There’s also a criminal statute directly aimed at that issue, imposing a potential prison term of up to ten years for each violation." All of the leaks to the press that the president is irate over fall into that category. They all involve intelligence-related intercepts.

The other thing that they all have in common is that they are part of a coordinated effort to undermine and ultimately bring down the Trump administration.

Many in the mainstream media, notably the New York Times and the Washington Post, are portraying President Trump's determination to ferret out and prosecute the saboteurs as a heavy-handed retaliation against his political enemies. That is exactly what I would expect the Times and the Post to say. But that tirade against the president unwittingly evinces the awareness of the Times and Post editors that there are, embedded within the U.S. intelligence agencies, some who (like the editors of those filthy rags themselves) are not just there to do their job in a professional manner but who are actually political enemies of the 45th President of the United States.

Let us hope that the president and his team are successful in their continued efforts to drain the swamp in Washington. Let us hope they not only find out who these subversives are but who is behind them, because what they are doing is nothing short of sedition against the United States Government and the U.S. Constitution.

Gen. Michael Flynn is a good man and a loyal patriot. He made an error in judgment by not being forthright in his conversation with Vice President Pence, and therein lay his sin. His reticence was unnecessary, because he had nothing to hide. He had done nothing wrong. But perhaps he put too much stock in what he was hearing from the Media, as so many people do, and believed what they were saying about him. The Media made him believe he had done something he need to hide, and he waivered.

We can only hope that others in the Trump Administration can learn a lesson from Gen. Flynn's experience and not fall victim to the vicious attacks from the Left, because they will all be targeted. In today's political environment, anyone who supports President Donald Trump or his agenda, or who opposes the evils of the Progressive/Globalist agenda, risks being slandered and worse. But we must all − cabinet secretaries and common citizens, senators and every-day Americans − stand strong, shoulder to shoulder, do the right thing, be courageous, and not let the censure of the press or the disapproval of friends, family, or colleagues deter us from fighting for the survival of a free and sovereign United States. We are in the majority and we are in the right. Let us never waiver.

Related Story — Out Like Flynn: The Politics of Personal Destruction Claims Another  Victim,  Feb. 14, 2017

 

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