Fired by one American commander-in-chief for insubordination, Michael Flynn has now delivered his resignation to another.
President Donald Trump had been weighing the fate of his national security adviser, a hard-charging, feather-ruffling retired lieutenant general who just three weeks into the new administration put himself in the center of a controversy. Flynn resigned late Monday.
At issue was Flynn's contact with Moscow's ambassador to Washington
. Flynn and the Russian appear to have discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia late last year, raising questions about whether he was freelancing on foreign policy while President Barack Obama was still in office and whether he misled Trump officials about the calls.
The uncertainty about his future had deepened Monday when the White House issued a statement saying that Trump is "evaluating the situation" surrounding Flynn. In his resignation letter, Flynn said he held numerous calls with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.
during the transition and gave "incomplete information" about those discussions to Vice President Mike Pence.
The center of a storm is a familiar place for Flynn. His military career ended when Obama dismissed him as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014. Flynn has said he was pushed out for holding tougher views than Obama about Islamic extremism
. But a former senior U.S. official said the firing was for insubordination, after Flynn failed to follow guidance from superiors.
Out of government, he disappeared into the murky world of mid-level defense contractors and international influence peddlers. In December 2015, he appeared at a Moscow banquet headlined by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Flynn, a lifelong if apolitical Democrat, became a trusted and eager confidant of Trump, joining anti-Hillary Clinton campaign chants of "Lock Her Up" and tweeting that "Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL."
As national security adviser, Flynn required no Senate confirmation vote or extreme vetting of his record.
The Washington Post
and other U.S. newspapers, citing current and former U.S. officials, reported last week that Flynn made explicit references to U.S. sanctions on Russia in conversations with Putin's ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. One of the calls took place on Dec. 29, the day Obama announced new penalties against Russia's top intelligence agencies over allegations they meddled in the election with the objective of helping Trump win.
While it's not unusual for incoming administrations to have discussions with foreign governments before taking office, the repeated contacts just as the U.S. was pulling the trigger on sanctions suggests Trump's team might have helped shape Russia's response. They also contradicted denials about such sanctions discussions by several Trump administration officials, including the vice president. Some Democratic lawmakers want a congressional investigation.
For days, Trump had been publicly and unusually quiet on the matter. While his aides declared the president has confidence in Flynn, Trump privately told associates he was troubled by the situation, according to a person who spoke with him recently.
Flynn's sparkling military resume had included key assignments at home and abroad, and high praise from superiors.
The son of an Army veteran of World War II and the Korean War, Flynn was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 1981. He started in intelligence and eventually rose to senior positions, including intelligence chief for U.S. Central Command
Ian McCulloh, a Johns Hopkins data science specialist, became a Flynn admirer while working as an Army lieutenant colonel in Afghanistan in 2009. At the time, Flynn ran intelligence for the U.S.-led international coalition in Kabul and was pushing for more creative approaches to targeting Taliban networks, including use of data mining and social network analysis, according to McCulloh.
"He was pushing for us to think out of the box and try to leverage technology better and innovate," McCulloh said, crediting Flynn for improving the effectiveness of U.S. targeting. "A lot of people didn't like it because it was different."
After leaving the military, Flynn plunged into civilian life and moved to capitalize on his military and intelligence connections and experience.
He opened his own consulting firm, Flynn Intelligence Group, assembling a crew of former armed forces veterans with expertise in cyber, logistics and surveillance. One "team" member was lobbyist Robert Kelley.
Kelley proved a central player in the Flynn Group's decision to help a Turkish businessman tied to Turkey's government. At the same time that Flynn was advising Trump on national security matters, Kelley was lobbying legislators on behalf of businessman Ekim Alptekin's firm between mid-September and December last year, lobbying documents show.
It was an odd match. Flynn stirred controversy with dire warnings about Islam, calling it a "political ideology" that "definitely hides behind being a religion."
But his alarms apparently didn't extend to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government as it cracked down on dissent and jailed thousands of opponents after a failed coup last summer.
Source: Associated Press
Flynn's worldview is indistinguishable from anyone else's in the 'US intel community'. Differences here were over methods and minor strategic considerations. But they all want the same thing: US world domination in perpetuity.
provides more details on Flynn's resignation:
Flynn was a loyal Trump supporter throughout Trump's improbable campaign last year, but his ties to Russia caused concern among other senior Trump advisers.
Senior Russian lawmakers reacted swiftly, casting Flynn as a casualty in a campaign to undermine any efforts by Trump to mend badly strained relations with Moscow.
In a resignation letter issued late on February 13, Flynn said he gave Pence and others "incomplete information" about the phone calls.
The White House named retired General Keith Kellogg to replace Flynn as acting security adviser. He is also among three people the White House said Trump is considering naming to the post permanently. The other two are former CIA Director David Petraeus and Vice Admiral Robert Harward.
The Associated Press and Reuters news agencies both reported late on February 13 that the U.S. Justice Department had warned the White House that Flynn could be in a compromised position as a result of the contradictions between the public depictions of the calls and what intelligence officials knew to be true based on recordings of the conversations, which were picked up as part of the routine monitoring of foreign officials' communications in the United States.
Democrats are not backing down, calling on the House Oversight Committee to launch an investigation into Flynn's "ties with Russia." Schumer wants an independent investigation into Flynn's discussions with Kislyak. Representative Eliot Engel, ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs said, "far too many questions remain unanswered about this administration's ties to Russia.
" Considering that Flynn doesn't seem to be any less of a war monger than others, the degree to which he is being smeared
The Washington Post reported that former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and a national security official told White House counsel Donald McGahn that Flynn was possibly vulnerable to Russian blackmail attempts.
Michael Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst for the US Secretary of Defense, told RT the development appears to be a huge gain for US mainstream media and the Democrats.
"I think this is a victory for mainstream media and for the Democrats. They don't like this administration and they're going to do everything they can to chip away its credibility, and this is just the beginning," Maloof told RT on Tuesday.
Flynn's resignation itself "was a crescendo of noise from the mainstream media, and it distracted the White House from trying to get its job done," Maloof said, adding, "The basic issue is - could Flynn, who was private citizen, be even talking to Russian ambassador about sanctions being lifted?
"That comes under what we call Logan Act, a 1799 law that has never been prosecuted, and it's crazy," the former Pentagon official added, referring to a law that outlaws negotiations between unauthorized citizens and foreign states in a dispute with the US. Violations under the Logan Act - last amended in 1994 - are still considered a felony and are punishable by a fine or imprisonment.
Even the Neocons, who share Flynn's views on Iran, are ecstatic. Witness, arch idiot neocon David Frum, who has been on a Twitter frenzy
Russian politicians see this move as part of coordinated effort to ensure Trump cannot follow through with his plan to mend ties with Russia. Again, from RFE/RL:
Aleksei Pushkov, chairman of the Information Policy Committee in the upper house of parliament, tweeted that "it was not Flynn who was targeted but relations with Russia."
"Driving Flynn out was the first act. Now the target is Trump himself," Pushkov said in a separate tweet.
Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the upper house -- the Federation Council -- said on Facebook that firing a national security adviser for his contacts with Russia is "not even paranoia but something immeasurably worse."
"Either Trump has not gained the requisite independence and is being...backed into a corner, or Russophobia has already infected the new administration as well, from top to bottom," Kosachyov said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on Flynn's exit.
"It is the Americans' internal affair. It is the internal affair of President Trump's administration. It is none of our business," Peskov told reporters on February 14.
When asked on February 13 about the Flynn-Kislyak phone calls, Peskov said in an apparent reference to discussions of sanctions: "We have already said that they did not take place."
More Russian responses from RT
Leonid Slutskiy, the head of State Duma Committee for International Relations, said he has reasons to believe that Trump's former adviser resigned due to external pressure.
"Under these circumstances, my conclusion is that the real target in this scheme is Russian-American relations and the general trust in the new administration," Slutskiy said.
"This situation is a negative signal for arranging Russian-American dialogue. It is obvious that Flynn had to submit his resignation under certain pressure. But President Trump accepted it. The chosen pretext was Flynn's contact with the Russian ambassador, even though this is normal diplomatic practice," he noted.
"Hawks in Washington see even simple willingness for dialogue with the Russians as a thought crime (in the words of the immortal G. Orwell). To drive a national security adviser into resignation for his contacts with the Russian ambassador (a common diplomatic practice) is more than paranoia, it is something immeasurably worse," Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday.
"It is either Trump has not achieved the sought-after independence and he is being persistently and successfully driven into a corner, or the new administration has been hit by Russophobia, from top to bottom."
Senator Aleksei Pushkov ... "Flynn was purged not because of some blunder, but because of an ongoing aggressive campaign. The newspapers are calling for 'Russians out!' This is paranoid and this is a witch hunt," he wrote.
Some context, from Thierry Meyssan
The CIA has refused Robin Townley the level of defence accreditation required to have a seat on the National Security Council (NSC).
Robin Townley had been appointed chief assistant to the National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn. He should have held the office of the NSC Director for Africa but he found himself left with no other option than to resign. The Agency's decision is a "quid pro quo" to President Trump's Memorandum which effectively put an end to the Director of the CIA having a permanent seat on the NSC.
The Saker's response
is similar to the Russian officials and to Meyssan's take on Flynn (it's somewhat, but only time will tell whether that's justified or not):
Now let's immediately get one thing out of the way: Flynn was hardly a saint or a perfect wise man who would single handedly saved the world. That he was not. However, what Flynn was is the cornerstone of Trump's national security policy. For one thing, Flynn dared the unthinkable: he dared to declare that the bloated US intelligence community had to be reformed. Flynn also tried to subordinate the CIA and the Joint Chiefs to the President via the National Security Council. Put differently, Flynn tried to wrestle the ultimate power and authority from the CIA and the Pentagon and subordinate them back to the White House. Flynn also wanted to work with Russia. Not because he was a Russia lover, the notion of a Director of the DIA as a Putin-fan is ridiculous, but Flynn was rational, he understood that Russia was no threat to the USA or to Europe and that Russia had the West had common interests. That is another absolutely unforgivable crimethink in Washington DC.
...It took the 'deep state' only weeks to castrate Trump and to make him bow to the powers that be. Those who would have stood behind Trump will now feel that he will not stand behind them and they will all move back away from him. The Neocons will feel elated by the elimination of their worst enemy and emboldened by this victory they will push on, doubling-down over and over and over again.
I am quite sure that nobody today is celebrating in the Kremlin. Putin, Lavrov and the others surely understand exactly what happened. It is as if Khodorkovsy would have succeeded in breaking Putin in 2003. In fact, I have to credit Russian analysts who for several weeks already have been comparing Trump to Yanukovich, who also was elected by a majority of the people and who failed to show the resolve needed to stop the 'color revolution' started against him. But if Trump is the new Yanukovich, will the US become the next Ukraine?
Trump's Neocon opposition is not going to give up any time soon. The only thing that will stop the nonsense is some well-executed arrests and trials of well-placed individuals. Will Trump turn out to be a Yanukovich?
Alexander Mercouris's analysis for the Duran
is more level-headed, arguing that while the sanctions-talk was concocted for political purposes, the real reason Trump accepted Flynn's resignation is that he was under FBI investigation, and there were serious questions about his performance as national security adviser. As for Flynn being the sole member of Trump's team guiding foreign policy, there's still a chance Tillerson will follow through with some of Trump's promises.
Update (Feb. 15):
If the amount of coverage on this story is any indication, the Flynn resignation is a huge story. But as usual, coverage is split. The FakeNews shills are convinced it's the tip of the iceberg of a massive Kremlin infiltration of the White House. The people who aren't crazy see that it's something else: a war on the White House sourced from within the Intelligence community, and their puppets in the media and political establishment. Recent SOTT coverage:
According to FakeNews New York Times
, White House counsel Donald McGahn informed Trump 17 days ago that Flynn had not been truthful to Pence. McGahn had been told by Sally Yates. McGahn determined that while Flynn had not broken the law, his actions constituted a "violation of trust".
Slimey McCain is milking the situation for all it's worth, calling the resignation "a troubling indication of the dysfunctino of the current national security apparatus":
"General Flynn's resignation also raises further questions about the Trump administration's intentions toward Vladimir Putin's Russia, including statements by the president suggesting moral equivalence between the United States and Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, threats to our NATO allies and attempted interference in American elections," he continued.
Most other Republicans have stayed on the sidelines, however, and are relatively silent. Gen. Tony Thomas of SOCOM says the upheavals are rippling through the military
"Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil," he said. "I hope they sort it out soon because we're a nation at war."
General Thomas insisted Special Operations forces are "staying focused" despite all the controversy in Washington.
Asked about his comments later, General Thomas said in a brief interview, "As a commander, I'm concerned our government be as stable as possible."
Damon Linker of The Week
writes that "America's spies anonymously took down Michael Flynn. That is deeply worrying." He reasonably points out that the US is better off without Flynn, but the way he was brought down is frightening.
The whole episode is evidence of the precipitous and ongoing collapse of America's democratic institutions — not a sign of their resiliency. Flynn's ouster was a soft coup (or political assassination) engineered by anonymous intelligence community bureaucrats. The results might be salutary, but this isn't the way a liberal democracy is supposed to function.
Unelected intelligence analysts work for the president, not the other way around. ... Members of the unelected, unaccountable intelligence community are not the right someone, especially when they target a senior aide to the president by leaking anonymously to newspapers the content of classified phone intercepts, where the unverified, unsubstantiated information can inflict politically fatal damage almost instantaneously.
...These leaks are an enormous problem. And in a less polarized context, they would be recognized immediately for what they clearly are: an effort to manipulate public opinion for the sake of achieving a desired political outcome. It's weaponized spin.
Those cheering the deep state torpedoing of Flynn are saying, in effect, that a police state is perfectly fine so long as it helps to bring down Trump.
Sitting back and letting shadowy, unaccountable agents of espionage do the job for us simply isn't an acceptable alternative [to Congress].
Down that path lies the end of democracy in America.
As Zero Hedge
points out, Flynn could face a felony charge if the FBI determines he lied to them, but the question remains how they would go about charging him, as the transcript of his conversation was obtained illegally. After acting AG Sally Yates suspected Flynn was lying, the FBI launched an investigation invoking the antiquated and never-used Logan Act:
It was here that the NSA, which routinely eavesdrops on calls involving high-ranking foreign diplomats, got involved and recorded the phone call. While officials have said that Flynn was not a focus of the eavesdropping, in retrospect that now appears suspect.
Indeed. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is asking this question
"I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer," said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is conducting a review of Russian activities to influence the election. "The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded."
Separately Tuesday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said he had no plans to further probe links between Flynn and Russia. "It's taken care of itself at this point," he said.
Nunes said he was dismayed that those recordings had leaked, citing a complex process for tapping communications involving U.S. citizens and then "unmasking" it for intelligence use.
The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), said late Monday that Flynn resignation "does not end questions over his contacts with the Russians."
"These alleged contacts and any others the Trump campaign may have had with the Kremlin are the subject of the House Intelligence Committee's ongoing investigation," he said in a statement. "Moreover, the Trump Administration has yet to be forthcoming about who was aware of Flynn's conversations with the Ambassador and whether he was acting on the instructions of the President or any other officials, or with their knowledge."
Nunes said it was "very hard to believe" that Flynn was acting as "some sort of secret Russian agent."
He also said he saw some hypocrisy in the response of Democrats to the Flynn recording.
"Where are all the privacy groups screaming now?" he asked.
Here's Kucinich once more, with feeling: