President Trump signing an executive order, 1/25/17
Credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann/Flickr

The official story is that Michael Flynn had to resign as President Trump’s national security advisor because he lied to Vice President Pence about what he discussed with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. In truth, however, the FBI all but insisted on his removal because they assessed that he was subject to Russian blackmail.

I’ve written repeatedly that Flynn was subject to blackmail for a lot more than what he might have told Mike Pence. He had taken tens of thousands of dollars from the Kremlin and not disclosed it, for example, and he’d done work as an agent of a foreign power (Turkey) without disclosing it. Russia knew these things and could have let the world know about them at any time.

Flynn was compromised at a minimum and perhaps actively working for the Kremlin either voluntarily or in more of a coerced manner.

But how is any of this different from the situation we have with Jared Kushner?

How many foreign contacts does someone have to omit from their SF-86 forms to lose their security clearance immediately? Because Jared Kushner managed to forget more foreign contacts than he listed, since he listed exactly zero. Who could’ve known that meeting with Russian Ambassador Surgey Kislyak about setting up a secret back channel with Moscow or scrounging for dirt on Hillary Clinton from a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer were noteworthy? Or how about that meeting with the head of a U.S.-sanctioned Russian state-run bank?

As far as I am concerned, it’s not even debatable that Kushner’s security clearance should be yanked. The question is why he hasn’t been fired. The Russians could have, at any time, revealed or threatened to reveal Kushner’s contacts with them.

As for the president, the Russians could have revealed or threatened to reveal at any time that his son, his son-in-law, and his campaign manager met with one of their agents and colluded on how to damage Hillary Clinton. Knowing this, perhaps the president has been scared to say or do anything that is upsetting to Vladimir Putin.

It sure looks that way, doesn’t it.

The president needs to resign. It may take some convincing to get him to realize this. But he needs to resign. And while he’s considering his fate, he needs to let the FBI do a thorough counterintelligence investigation to make sure that folks like Flynn and Kushner haven’t been sharing classified material with Russian handlers.

Spycraft isn’t that complicated when you get right down to it, and the Trump campaign allowed themselves to be compromised and subject to blackmail. For the same reason that Flynn had to go, the whole lot of them need to go.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at