A Record?

Mike Flynn just resigned as National Security Adviser, in what may be a record for shortest term ever in an NSA.

Standards have to apply to the powerful at least as much as to the weak, if things are to be any good at all. Hopefully that lesson is being learned.

UPDATE: Judging from the letter of resignation, Mike Pence is the one who put him down. Don't lie to the Biker in Chief.


Texan99 said...

It's unfortunate, but this is what's supposed to happen when you get caught lying. The country would have been better off if the same had happened to Susan Rice, and I'd have thought better of Pres. Obama for it, too.

The scandal isn't when a top official screws up, it's when the screw-up is tolerated, lied about, and covered up by the press.

Grim said...

It's sad because he was a good officer at one time. However, sometimes this kind of thing happens.

I am mystified by all the "Trump knew, impeach him!" talk today. As far as I can tell, if "Trump knew" then this isn't even a Logan Act violation -- and the Logan Act isn't prosecuted anyway. It's only potentially criminal if Flynn was trying to run his own personal foreign policy. If he was acting on Trump's orders, provided that everyone was clear on the fact that this wasn't going to be executed until after Inauguration Day, it's not a violation of President Obama's power to set foreign policy without interference. It's just diplomatic preparation for the next foreign policy, at the appropriate and lawful time.

Hope springs eternal, I guess.

E Hines said...

I have two problems with this. One is that there's no evidence Flynn talked out of turn. All the stories [sic] about Flynn's conversations are "sourced" to WaPo's carefully anonymous "official" sources with not a single name named. After WaPo, it's all just repeated rumor mongering. The only corroboration of the claims is the lack of denial coming out of the White House.

The other problem I have is that this conversation likely was classified--it was with a foreign government official, and NSA was monitoring it. Where is the hue and cry over the leak of classified information? The WSJ is only just--quietly and only after having waited until Flynn was gone--starting to talk about that little bit. Related: the "sources," if they actually exist, claim to quote "transcripts" of the conversation. Where are the transcripts? Where are the links to them? Or are the transcripts classified?

OK, three problems. Flynn said initially that he didn't discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador. Then he said the subject might have come up. The stories written about that make it out to be some horrendous contradiction and change of claims. There is no contradiction.

OK, four problems. It's normal for the incoming, yet not confirmed, guy to start talking with his foreign counterparts.

The whole thing stinks, from all angles.

Eric Hines

E Hines said...

It's only potentially criminal if Flynn was trying to run his own personal foreign policy. If he was acting on Trump's orders....

Trump wasn't the President whose foreign policy would have been interfered with; he couldn't have been since he wasn't President. Obama was the President whose foreign policy would have been interfered with. It still would have been a Logan violation only if actual interference had occurred, which a conversation with a foreign government official is not unless foreign policy actually were discussed and commitments offered or made.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

Obama was the President whose foreign policy would have been interfered with.

That's why I said, "... provided that everyone was clear on the fact that this wasn't going to be executed until after Inauguration Day." Then it's not interference with an ongoing foreign policy, it's just preparation to execute once the power formally passes to you.

Not that it's easy to take Logan Act talk seriously from the people who were perfectly happy for John F. Kerry to be Secretary of State -- after he went, as a serving Naval officer, to hold private talks with the enemy in a foreign country.

Cassandra said...

The whole thing stinks, from all angles.

Eric is right.

From Eli Lake:

...that's all these allegations are at this point: unanswered questions. It's possible that Flynn has more ties to Russia that he had kept from the public and his colleagues. It's also possible that a group of national security bureaucrats and former Obama officials are selectively leaking highly sensitive law enforcement information to undermine the elected government....

In normal times, the idea that U.S. officials entrusted with our most sensitive secrets would selectively disclose them to undermine the White House would alarm those worried about creeping authoritarianism. Imagine if intercepts of a call between Obama's incoming national security adviser and Iran's foreign minister leaked to the press before the nuclear negotiations began? The howls of indignation would be deafening.

The whole Logan act story was just plain silly. But speaking of anonymous sources:

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 who 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, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn's credibility, multiple sources revealed.

Texan99 said...

I think the political-assassination angle stinks, but I can't get past the way it looks like Flynn lied to the VP. Not only should he not have done that, but just as a practical matter, if he knew (and he should have known) that a big chunk of the intelligence community was out to get him, then he should have been behaving in a way that wouldn't embarrass himself or his boss, the President, when he inevitably was found out and exposed via leaks.

Now I hope the President will turn to cleaning house in the intelligence community. There's no excuse for leaking secure information as a domestic political tool. If he sweeps out whoever is for the Iran deal in the process, so much the better.

Cassandra said...

I would feel a lot better about the "lied to the VP" story if it were clear that he had done so.

I totally agree that Pence/Trump have the right to ask for his resignation if they lose confidence in his judgment. There's just so much weasel wording in the coverage of this story that I find it impossible to know what really happened. There are a lot of claims to know, but nothing direct.

It's also not clear to me that Flynn did anything wrong here. I don't see how the WH can say (on the one hand) that they are confident Flynn didn't break the law, and on the other that he discussed sanctions. Either he did, or he didn't. Sanctions could have been raised as a topic, but not discussed (as in, the Russians raised the issue, Flynn didn't engage with them).

The whole business with Sally Yates makes the WH look bad. Supposedly they knew about this for weeks and did nothing, issued no corrections, and then all of a sudden this comes out in the press and they fire Flynn for doing something they knew about weeks ago?

That doesn't rise to the level of a firing offense. So there's got to be more to this story, or he was just thrown under the bus.

Texan99 said...

I admit to not having delved into the details. Somehow or other the President became convinced Flynn had lied; I hope he didn't get that wrong, and I hope the offense Flynn was fired for was lying (and especially for setting up his superiors to vouch for his lie publicly) rather than some obscure Logan-Act nonsense that his enemies cooked up that doesn't hold water.

I don't see the situation as parallel to that of Yates, whose offense was immediately unmistakable. I can imagine that it took the President a while to sift through the fog in Flynn's case and try to do the fair and prudent thing.

Cassandra said...

Yates is the one who supposedly told the WH about the transcripts of the call.

On the Logan Act thing, I find it fascinating that I haven't seen a single mention of Obama bragging in the NY Times about his attempts to scuttle the Bush administration's negotiations to secure Status of Forces/Strategic Framework agreements.... a good 5 months before the 2008 election.

Apparently, a candidate meddling in ongoing negotiations was not problematic at all. Sure sheds some interesting light on the previous administration's "we have one president at a time" rule :p

E Hines said...

Now I hope the President will turn to cleaning house in the intelligence community.

He's got to clean house in the White House, too. The rank and file of that staff also are holdovers.

More on the "transcript" leaks: it's not only the intelligence community per se (of whom I'm inclined to hold Clapper, et al., responsible for any leaking--he's been openly feuding with Trump from the beginning--after the enthusiastic response he got from the CIA's rank and file in that speech). There were translators who were privy to any conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador (I'd look up the name, but I'm too lazy). They could be in on the leaks, too.

Somehow or other the President became convinced Flynn had lied....

I've seen no evidence of that. Flynn was asked to resign because Trump had lost confidence in him. Losing confidence can come from a broad variety of causes. Guys have been fired or resigned because that confidence was lost over things as trivial as the guy's continued presence has become a distraction.

Flynn could be as pure as the new-fallen snow, or he could be a Russian plant reporting directly to Putin. We can't know from the mendacious, bad send-up being masqueraded as reporting.

Eric Hines

Ymar Sakar said...

No wonder Mitt Romney bailed.