Why Michael Flynn?

Trump Maladministration

As I was writing this I got a news flash that James Comey has been dismissed as FBI Director. I’m not sorry, but I am surprised. I’ll come back to this in a bit.

I’ve been really busy and only partly following yesterday’s hearings on Michael Flynn.  After reading about the testimony, however, I have three questions.

One: After all the warnings he received about Flynn, including one from President Obama himself, why did Trump go ahead and appoint Flynn?

This comment is from March:

On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked whether the Trump administration was aware of Flynn’s lobbying when he was selected to be national security adviser. “I don’t believe that that was known,” he said. On Friday, however, the Associated Press reported that the White House had confirmed that the Trump transition team knew before Inauguration Day that Flynn might be required to register as a foreign agent. In fact, on November  18, mere days after the 2016 election, Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, wrote a letter to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence inquiring about Flynn’s ties to the Turkish government.

In fact, it would be laughable if Trump officials had not known, since a simple Google search could have tipped them off. On Election Day, Flynn published an op-ed in The Hill floridly praising Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a crucial ally against ISIS and calling for the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish religious leader and former Erdogan ally who lives in the U.S., and whom Erdogan blamed for instigating a failed 2016 coup. Flynn complained that Barack Obama had kept Erdogan at arm’s length.

So it was well and widely suspected in Washington that Flynn was working for Turkey before he was appointed. Just as an aside, whether Turkey will remain a crucial ally is now questionable, since Trump is arming Syrian Kurds. But let’s go on …

Two: Why did Trump not fire Flynn sooner?

The former head of the US Department of Justice told Congress that she had warned the White House twice in January that Michael Flynn, the first national security adviser appointed by Donald Trump, could be blackmailed by Russia. …

… Mr Trump eventually fired Mr Flynn, a retired general who had previously been ousted as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, but allowed him to stay in his post for two weeks following Ms Yates’ initial warning. During those two weeks, Mr Flynn participated in sensitive discussions on Russia policy.

“Integrity” is an alien concept to Trump, so it’s possible he didn’t see Flynn’s compromised position as a big bleeping deal. Of course, it’s also possible there was more to Flynn’s role in the Trump campaign and administration than we know about yet.

And Three: Does anybody really believe Mike Pence didn’t know anything about Flynn’s, um, issues? Or, as Joy Reid put it, was Pence lying or is he incompetent? Seriously.

Getting back to Why Flynn — my Facebook friend Jeff Feldman wrote that the Trump administration was “without any interest in or awareness that law limits action in government. Instead, they seem to be acting with the assumption that they were free to do whatever they wanted.” And if anyone objected, they could just engage in endless litigation to keep consequences at bay. What Trump has always done, in other words.

And this may or may not mean that the Trumpettes are hiding anything in particular. “Rather than learn the rules and live by them, they identify the rules and seek to skirt them. Such an easy matter to just not hire Flynn. But no. You hire him and then climb aboard the good ship chicanery all the way to crazy bay,” Jeff F. wrote. Rules are for losers.

But now Comey is gone. WaPo says,

Earlier in the day, the FBI notified Congress that Comey misstated key findings involving the Hillary Clinton email investigation during testimony last week, saying that only a “small number’’ of emails had been forwarded to disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, not the “hundreds and thousands’’ he’d claimed in his testimony.

The letter was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, more than a week after Comey testified for hours in defense of his handling of the Clinton probe.

Of all things that might have pushed Trump’s buttons, I would not have thought that would do it. But this may be a sign that he’s realizing that his administration is absolutely bogged down in stupid scandals and unforced errors. Or, maybe there’s something else going on we don’t know about.

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  1. Doug  •  May 9, 2017 @7:40 pm

    The FBI is investigating Trump and the Russia connection. If Comey has been uncooperative with the administration – either by refusing to disclose the status of the investigation or hiding evidence of collusion, Trump may well want to install an FBI director who is more cooperative.

    I will watch to see how a replacement is selected and vetted – my gut feeling is that if Trump and/or the GOP control the choice, then an independent counsel to continue the Russia investigation is essential.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  May 9, 2017 @8:14 pm

    First off, Pence is perfectly capable of lying AND being incompetent!
    And at the same time, no less.
    As evidence, I present this putz’s entire political career.

    My bet is that we’re just starting to sift through the top-most layer of scum, on the swamp that is t-RUMPLE-thin-sKKKin’s decades long financial wheelings and dealings with the Russians – and what he owes them, and what they expect in return.

    The only bad things about Comey getting the boot, is that Obama didn’t kick his ass out of offIce on October 27th, and that t-RUMP will now get to pick some sycophantic and even more encompetent boob to head the FBI.

  3. c u n d gulag  •  May 9, 2017 @8:58 pm

    I had an odd thought last night – and no, I’m no stranger to those, as you should know:
    What if, as a result of the downright criminal and draconian t-RUMP-don’t-CARE cuts to heathcare – including Medicaid – all to give YUUUUGE-GIIINORMOUS tax cuts for those with too much money already, citizens finally started to take economic justice into their own hands(guns), and we get REAL gun control laws for the first time in eons?
    Followed shortly by single-payer?

    Yeah, I know.
    Republicans will be happy to call out the military to shoot anyone who isn’t smiling and cheering at them as they ride by in up-armored vehicles, with tanks as escorts.

    So, never mind…

  4. c u n d gulag  •  May 9, 2017 @9:00 pm

    Two comments in moderation?
    Pork-WAAAAAAAAAAAH!?!? :’-(

  5. uncledad  •  May 9, 2017 @9:11 pm

    “I’ve been really busy and only partly following yesterday’s hearings on Michael Flynn”

    Hopefully your busy with something productive, non-political? This white house seems to be running every journalist into the ground, not sure if its a plan or just plain chaos? I believe its called the upside down plane theory? Today I was thinking I would post something on the mahablog about how the T-rumpers have stirred up so much shit that no-one can keep it all straight? To me the best story of the year so far is the apparent imploding of FAUX and the firing of the most dangerous man in cable news Bill O’Reilly. But against the backdrop of this total shit storm known as the Trump white house its hard to even consider? And now he’s fired the FBI director who publically acknowledged his administration is under investigation. This is corrupt 3rd world shit!

  6. paradoctor  •  May 9, 2017 @10:16 pm

    Dear Mr. Comey: See how he repays you? If you had kept your mouth shut around election time, then you’d still have a job.
    Dear All Other Federal Employees: See how he repaid him? Consider this and act accordingly.

  7. Swami  •  May 9, 2017 @10:38 pm

    Well, I suppose they can always have Jared Kushner fill in as the interim FBI director while they search for a replacement for Comey.

    My gut feeling is that Sessions is orchestrating a scheme to derail the Trump/Russia investigation. I keep coming back to that one bit of information where I think it was Carter Page who had advanced knowledge of the Wikileaks dump of Hillary Clinton’s emails. To my mind you can’t have that kind of knowledge without being in collusion.

  8. paradoctor  •  May 9, 2017 @10:46 pm

    Joy Reid’s question about Pence – lying or incompetent – is an example of what I call the “crook-or-fool dilemma”. Are the scoundrels in power lying crooks, or are they incompetent fools?
    I say that the two theories are equally valid. Everyone lies to a crook. so they become fools; and fools lie to themselves, so they become crooks.
    Plato said that the truly wise have no choice but to become virtuous. To this I add that the truly virtuous have no choice but to get wise.

  9. csm  •  May 9, 2017 @10:55 pm

    “One: After all the warnings he received about Flynn, including one from President Obama himself, why did Trump go ahead and appoint Flynn?”

    Flynn had the one attribute that made him perfect for the job: a personal hatred for Obama and Clinton. That’s the only qualification anyone Trump appoints needs to have that matters.

    As for Comey, he got what he deserved, but for all the wrong reasons.

    Bottom line here is, Trump is starting to feel the heat, and pulled a Nixonian “massacre” and just made it worst for himself.

  10. Waspuppet  •  May 10, 2017 @8:55 am

    Exactly. He was out there screaming “Lock her up.” That’s what counts. Although he probably knows enough about Trump and Russia too.

    But it’s important not to get bogged down in trying to figure out why Trump does what he does. Like Martin O’Malley (!) said, he’s a monkey with a machine gun. And as someone else said, when it comes to Trump, don’t tell people “Don’t focus on X; it’s a distraction from Y.” Trump doesn’t think that much. It’s all one one speedball of privilege, ego, temper and fail, all turned up to 11 all the time. Some of us have been married to this type; trust us.

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