The torrent of dramatic negative news stories from the Trump administration, ranging from the blocked travel ban to Trump conflicts of interest to the entire administration’s humiliation at the hands of Saturday Night Live, has mostly driven the Russian influence story from the front pages.
But not entirely. The investigation into what Trump and his team knew about Russian interference in the election and when they knew it continues at a slow burn. Much of it is now focused on Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Reports from yesterday suggest that, despite denials, Flynn spoke with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak about the sanctions on Russia prior to the inauguration. That’s a pretty clear violation of the Logan Act, which forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating on behalf of the country with foreign governments. Even more damning is the fact that Flynn lied about having made the contact, which means he knew he was doing something wrong and wanted to cover it up.
Today brings news that a top Flynn aide has actually been denied a security clearance by the CIA.
Many things are abnormal about the Trump administration, of course, but it seems reasonable that even in Trumpland this sort of behavior would merit if not a “You’re Fired!” then at the very least a request by Flynn to spend more time with his family. So why is Flynn still involved?
It’s hard to know for sure, but it raises even more questions about Trump’s involvement with Russia. Flynn has long been seen by many as a key connector between Putin and the Trump organization. There are any number of other advisers Trump could pick for basic national security issues, but few others he could rely on if in fact he were guilty of some sort of quid-pro-quo collusion with Putin in exchange for Russia’s help in the election. If Flynn were acting as a go-between, it would make sense that Trump would need to keep him close to avail himself of his continued help, and to ensure his continued silence and cooperation.
These are dark suspicions that require corroboration, of course, and should not be taken at face value without further evidence. But the fact that Trump refuses to let Flynn go despite the obvious political drawbacks can only help raise suspicions of the worst sort about this administration and its activities.