Friedman on Flynn

At RealClearWorld George Friedman remarks on l’affaire Flynn:

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser resigned late Monday night. Michael Flynn admitted in his resignation letter to having conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States and providing then Vice President-elect Mike Pence with an incomplete account of those calls. There is speculation that Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador to the United States concerning U.S. sanctions against Russia before Trump’s inauguration. The Washington Post reported that the acting attorney general told Trump last month about the calls and suggested that Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

I am missing something here. This isn’t meant to defend Flynn. It just means that I am missing something. There are two things that do not make sense. The first is that Flynn was an intelligence officer in Afghanistan and Iraq and at one point was the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn knows intelligence. It is a stretch to believe that Flynn could have placed himself in a position to be blackmailed by the Russians. This is because there is no way Flynn didn’t himself know that phone calls he had with representatives of Russia or another foreign government were monitored. There is something mysterious in this; we still do not have clarity over precisely what happened.

Those are precisely the reasons that an independent investigation makes sense. He continues:

The second reason this doesn’t make sense is that talking to the Russian ambassador by itself would not have been grounds for dismissal or resignation. Under the Logan Act, which dates to 1799, it is illegal for someone not in the U.S. government to conduct foreign policy negotiations with a foreign power on behalf of the United States. However, no one has ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act. Logan Act or not, private citizens are constantly engaged in conversations with foreign officials.

The most likely consequence of Gen. Flynn’s being prosecuted under the Logan Act would be for the Logan Act to be struck down as being too vague. And onwards:

Consider this. Anyone named to the post of national security adviser knows numerous officials from foreign governments. It is a job requirement. Before an election, he is simply a private citizen, as free as anyone else to speak to foreign officials within the limits of the Logan Act, which is never enforced but widely violated.

After an election, the president-elect is not yet the president and cannot speak for the U.S. government, nor can anyone he may have announced who will be a government official. But there is a difference between negotiating on behalf of the government and opening channels with foreign countries in anticipation of becoming part of the government. The idea that there should be no contacts whatsoever would mean that the new president would be starting from square one rather than hitting the ground running.

None of this will convince anyone, either those who hate Trump or those who support him unquestioningly.

As I’ve said before, I’m not sorry to see Flynn go. I think he was too gullible about Russia and too antagonistic with respect to Iran. His skills and personality weren’t right for NSC. However, we really need to know if anything improper was going on and the precise events and circumstances that have taken place.

27 comments… add one
  • Guarneri

    “However, we really need to know if anything improper was going on and the precise events and circumstances that have taken place.”

    As usual, you choose your words with care. In this case precision is a noble goal. However, I found a recent review of recent articles and statements to be striking in just how carefully crafted and imprecise the allegations are. I don’t expect this to change, as this is by design in a political dirtying up operation. I propose a gentlemens bet that at the end of any such investigation the degree of precision will be the same as it is today. I wonder if under the stated motivation of national security the relevant parties could be summoned to the White House and told to put their cards on the table – with precision – the allegations might be, um, “tempered.”

  • TastyBits

    How many times will the Trump haters be holding the football for Trump, and as soon as they pull it away, it is they who are on their backs. Could this be it? Sure, but if I were a progressive, I would be thinking about which presidential candidate not wearing Depends to run against him.

    I forgot: man-baby, little nuts, racist, meanie, poopie-head, blah, blah, blah.

  • michael reynolds

    If this was Hillary she’d already be impeached.

    If it was Obama he’d have been lynched.

    Flynn was obviously under orders from Trump to co-operate with Putin in an effort to subvert the US election. Trump is under Putin’s thumb, there is no other explanation that comes close to adding up.

    The hypocrisy and dishonesty of Trump supporters is nauseating. But I expect nothing more. I’ve always known these people were hypocrites and liars motivated by nothing but greed, aggrieved whiteness and spite. If Trump raped a child on the White House lawn Drew and Tasty and Jan would rationalize it.

    Three weeks for the imbecile to plunge us into the biggest political scandal in American history, and the Trumpies will be just fine so long as they’re paid off with tax cuts. American diplomacy? Destroyed. American standing in the world? Destroyed. Three weeks to inflict long-lasting damage on American national security, and the same clowns who screamed “Benghazi!” every five minutes are just fine with it.

    Vichy Americans. Whores for Putin, paid off with tax cuts and the destruction of the black president’s health care system. Like I said the other day, it wasn’t Trump per se that was frightening but the cowardice, stupidity, weakness and utter dishonesty of the 46%.

  • CStanley

    Flynn was obviously under orders from Trump to co-operate with Putin in an effort to subvert the US election.
    Hmm, can you please show your work here? Everything I’ve read says that they have looked for evidence of that and come up empty.

    I’ve stated here before that I’m very distrustful of Russia and that all of the ties between Trump’s advisors and Russia are troubling to me, but I remain much more troubled by the behavior of NATSEC:

  • michael reynolds

    Ah, another Vichy American dutifully regurgitating the traitor’s line. Yeah, that’s the problem: leaks. Not that the President of the United States is the servant of an enemy power, or even that the entire executive branch is in a meltdown.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    … If Trump raped a child on the White House lawn Drew and Tasty and Jan would rationalize it.

    Surely, a famous fiction writer could come up with something more artistic. You must be trying to piss-off @Icepick and a few others.

    You live in the Land of the Gated Community and Cul-de-Sac. My street is open for the public, and while there are not very many black and few brown people in my immediate area, I do get an unusually high number of black and brown children selling candy and trick-or-treating. Being a good citizen, I try to purchase as much candy as I can (cash and wife being the limiting factors). They are clearly not from my neighborhood, but nobody calls the police reporting black children or their parents.

    As to Benghazi, you need to take that up with Republicans, Right wingers, conservatives, etc., but I suspect you will find a lot of them on the Hate Trump Train. Regarding then President Obama’s foreign policy, I was mostly out of step with them anyway.

    I guess President Obama being impeached would not be racist because we already had a white president impeached over a blowjob. I would fully expect a President Clinton to be impeached on any charges the Republicans could drum up, and I will expect every one of them to vehemently deny this.

    The only reason that it would not happen is because she is female. Otherwise, I have no doubt that they would want a matching pair of Clinton presidents.

    As to everything you write, you really should take a break, and I would suggest creating a storyline (story arc?) or whatever you all call it. You are trying to hit a moving target, but your style depends upon a fixed or slowly moving target. You need to stop flailing around like a wild-eyed Republican during the Obama years and focus.

  • michael reynolds

    As ramblingly incoherent as ever. Do you actually try to think with that brain?

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    … the entire executive branch is in a meltdown.

    I am not sure that you have correctly identified the person or group in “a meltdown”, but from the inside, it might look a little different.

    We are now Vichy Americans, if not, traitors. Nonetheless, whatever. Personally, there is little to nothing that comes from the Left or any of the other Trump haters that means anything to me. I got tired of it a long time ago.

    You all have nothing to add, and nothing you add can be taken without being parsed or fully unraveled. It takes too much time and effort to take anything that you have to say seriously, and by the time the sliver of applicability is obtained, you all have thrown ten more allegations.

    (I do the same with the healthcare debate and the Right, and I got tired of them on Iraq and Syria.)

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    As ramblingly incoherent as ever. Do you actually try to think with that brain?

    Nope. I am nowhere as clear headed and coherent as you. Please teach me, Master of all that is good and wise. I first want to live in a Gated Community or Cul-de-Sac. I have heard that only the most exalted ones can obtain this status.

    Do I have to move to the land of the exalted ones, or could I use old tires to erect barriers. Once I have the barriers, should I call the police on all outsiders or just the easily identifiable ones.

    Oh Master, You cannot fathom what a horror it is to live among so many racists without the Gates of a Community to protect one from those who are not like us, and I want to be one of the you (not the exalted You) who is us.

    Unlike The Master, I must be rambling. I will focus. Vichy Americans, traitors, deplorables, racists, homophobes, Islamophobes, no blah, no blah, no blah. How was that Master? I bet @Icepick will be ready to repent and accept the wisdom of The Master.

  • CStanley

    Michael, I’m awaiting your proof that “the President of the United States is the servant of an enemy power”. I know you think this should be obvious but when asked to state your case you repeatedly go on an emotional, overheated rant instead of listing facts that lead to that conclusion.

    I don’t see all of these things (potentially nefarious ties to Putin’s regime, turmoil in Trump’s administration, and politically motivated weaponization of the national security agencies) as mutually exclusive, but as we get more clarity the hierarchy of concerns will become obvious. You obviously feel you know that the first is bad enough to warrant extraordinary measures. I’m not convinced but would like to hear the evidence on which you base your conviction.

  • Jan

    Constructive criticism, aimed at improving a situation, is a positive component of free speech and partisan checks and balances. What is going on with the Trump push back, however, is destructive and ultimately harmful to our democracy.

    When a president is barraged with anonymous charges, leaked by unaccounted-for agents/sources, that is instantly transmitted by an incurious press, and embraced by a rabit opposition, one can only speculate what kind of banana republic awaits us down the road.

  • Andy


    I think you are, to put it charitably, jumping to conclusions based on incomplete, ambiguous, selectively leaked information, but we’ll know soon enough what the real truth is.

  • CStanley

    I agree with the first part of your comment, Andy, but I’m not sure that I believe that we will “know soon enough.” I hope that’s so, but I’m not confident that truth can get out without spin anymore. We still don’t know the whole truth about Watergate, and it took a very long time before it became known that there was considerable CIA involvement. Then, as I suspect now, there was wrongdoing in the White House (currently I’m not sure it is wrongdoing as much as incompetence and wrongheadedness, but all are within the range of possibility) but also wrongdoing in the security agencies. I’m not knowledgeable about Congress in the 70s so don’t know if a similar situation existed, but I agree with the article I linked to above that the current weakness of Congress is aiding and abetting the CIA/FBI to go rogue, and that’s a dangerous situation.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    Whatever happened to New Zealand? They are not letting in any riff-raff, and New Zealanders being overwhelmingly of European descent is just a convenient coincidence. I am sure that you will take up residence among the Māori people.

    Did the Europeans steal the land from them, or did they obtain it fair and square – “worst deal ever”? So, you will move from one place the white man stole from the brown man (who stole it from the browner man, but what does the whole truth matter among Social Justice Warriors) to another the white man stole from the brownish man.

    Help me out. Does your “white privilege” restart in New Zealand, or does it add to your US “white privilege”? I think you would be a double “white privilege” abuser, but I am not a Social Justice Warrior. In any case, “white privilege” means the non-white folks need to keep seated while the white folks take care of them.

    It is a thankless job, but what is a Social Justice Warrior to do?

    (You should consider moving to Australia. They are really your type of people. Australia is a Gated Continent. They do not even let the Muslim refugees get onto their precious soil. They keep them out on an island. That would be perfect for you.)

  • steve

    Republicans control everything now. If there are leaks it is coming from them. While it is likely Flynn should have known he would be monitored, this would hardly be the first time someone thought they could get away with something, that they wouldn’t get caught, or that they would get support from the boss.

    Never been a prosecution for the Logan Act? Hmmm, no one was ever prosecuted for transmitting classified info for only one email or if it was not a deliberate leak. Still had conservatives wanting to lock her up. Why don’t we just let the investigators/AG decide if it merits prosecution.

    Bottom line is he hired Flynn because he was a conspiracy nut who believed in the same conspiracies as Trump. He was not a good fit for the actual job. We are better off with him gone.


  • Ken Hoop

    I guess the big mystery will be, did Flynn believe he had something to offer Putin which would cause him to sell out Iran? He didn’t.

  • IMO the harmony among Russia, China, and Iran is greatly overstated. Russia and China aren’t natural allies; they’re natural enemies like cobras and mongooses. The Soviets occupied big chunks of Iran during WWII and the Soviet-supported Tudeh was instrumental in rooting out Islamists in Iran 70 years ago. The present revolutionary government hasn’t forgotten that.

    What could they possibly have in common?

  • michael reynolds


    I was told I was ‘jumping to conclusions’ many months ago when I said Trump would not/could not mature in office. Ditto when I said he was stupid. Ditto when I said he was dyslexic bordering on being illiterate. Ditto when I said he would not/could not stop lying. Ditto when I said he would not/could not attract talent above the D list. Ditto when I said he would not/could not appeal beyond his base. Ditto when I said his regime would be chaotic and riven by faction. Ditto when I said he would be rejected by the broader culture like a bad organ transplant.

    It’s a long list. I’ve been dead right about this guy from the start. People keep telling me I’m jumping to conclusions, and yet I seem to be sticking the landings.

    He’s owned by Putin and he conspired with Putin and Assange to manipulate the election. There is no other explanation that fits the facts.

  • michael reynolds

    Oh, and let’s not forget being right that the GOP would grovel, and right that Republicans would abandon all their alleged beliefs in favor of spite, racism and misogyny.

  • michael reynolds

    And now, for your entertainment, the ‘fake news’ Wall Street Journal reports:

    U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter.
    Intelligence officials have in the past not told a president or members of Congress about the ins and outs of how they ply their trade. At times, they have decided that secrecy is essential for protecting a source, and that all a president needs to know is what that source revealed and what the intelligence community thinks is important about it.

    But in these previous cases in which information was withheld, the decision wasn’t motivated by a concern about a president’s trustworthiness or discretion, the current and former officials said.

    How delicious is that last paragraph? The Mango Mussolini promising to save us from ISIS is being cut off from intel because he’s a Soviet. . . er, sorry. . . Russian mole.

    Nice work, Trumpies. Another ‘first’ for the Great Businessman. First president to basically be denied a security clearance.

  • Guarneri

    If you have something, Michael, produce it. Iif The NY Times has something, produce it. Names and full transcripts, unedited. All they did was recycle the October story.

    You all have nothing. Nothing. The NYT admitted it, if you cared to get past the headline. A better question is when a grand jury is convened to find out if the taps were authorized; we already know leaking them is illegal. The only question is who did it.

    You’ve been reduced to a conspiracy spouting stooge, Michael. Not pretty.

  • TastyBits

    It looks like the swamp is a lot bigger than anticipated. Not to worry, there are 3 years, 11 months, and a few days to drain it.

    From what is happening around the world, it looks like somebody is on the wrong side of history, but I am sure the xenophobic Australians, the racist New Zealanders, or the nationalistic Europeans are better than the poopie-heads in the US.

    Just don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

  • michael reynolds

    Aww, poor Drew, poor Tasty. You thought it was going to be all happy dance for the next 4 years, didn’t you? You’d plagiarize unfunny quips about snowflakes and being butthurt. You’d say, ‘bwahahaha’ and have a swell time.

    And now you’ve got Reynolds pointing out what a catastrophically stupid choice you made and what’s so painful is you know it’s true. Laughing at you and your pathetic president. Your president hiding from questions just 4 weeks in. Your president under investigation by the FBI. Your president being frozen out by the CIA as a security risk. Your president’s very sanity being questioned by allied as well as enemy intelligence agencies. Your president snickered at by every head of state, the international laughingstock.

    I told you so. I told you so. I told you so.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    I hate to let reality intrude into the wonderful fantasy you have created, but you are the one who is doing the unhappy dance. I am having a ball seeing you and every Leftist lose their minds. You all have 3 years, 11 months, and a day or so left. If you cannot sink the SS Trump, you all are done.

    Actually, you all are sending out your best and brightest in the hopes that you will sink the SS Trump. It might work, but so far, every time you think you have gotten Trump in an inescapable trap, he escapes.

    The Left’s continued failures are a sign of weakness. Today’s snowflakes have no idea of how power works, but you do.

    I am ROTFLMAO. You all have nowhere to run. The Europeans are becoming worse than any Deep South redneck (racist or not). Australia is a bunch of xenophobes, and New Zealand has a higher proportion of European descendents than the racist US.

    I you and your worthless ilk had any integrity, you would be calling for the secession of California and for its reunification with Mexico, but of course, you all are full of sh*t.

    By the way, I have no intention of defending Trump. Whatever he comes up with will be better than anything I could. You all are like housecats. He uses his laser pointer to get you all focused on one thing while he is maneuvering behind your backs.

    There is no telling what sort of dumb assed-shit he is going to pull out tomorrow to get you all out marching again. It is a hoot and a half.

  • michael reynolds

    You all are like housecats. He uses his laser pointer to get you all focused on one thing while he is maneuvering behind your backs.

    I’m going to treasure that, Tasty.

    Yes, Trump is burning down his own regime to distract us from the fact that he’s burning down his own regime. Perfect.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    You keep after that “wascally wabbit”. A clock is right twice a day, and you might get something to stick. You fail to grasp that people like you losing their minds is worth the show. I did not vote. So, you could say I snuck in the back door.

    Within a few months or weeks, you all will have burned yourselves out (literally and figuratively), and it will be back to the same old partisan bickering. A few of you all will try to make a valiant last stand, but honestly, the snowflakes that melt upon seeing a name written in chalk on a sidewalk are probably not “The 300”.

    These first almost four weeks have been priceless, and once it dawns on you all that there are 3 years, 11 months, and a day or so, the fun will begin all over.

    The more the government is fighting with itself leaves less time for it to bother me. I am really not seeing the downside.

  • Jan

    I recall, Michael, that on every leg of Trump’s journey to the WH, you and many others predicted doom, gloom and failure. You were collectively all wrong.

    Now, you are creating all kinds of inflammatory/hateful dramas, unsubstantiated accusations, and noisy agitation to accompany extended predictions of resignation, impeachment and the like. I have to hand it to you and yours, as you are definitely giving it your all – no matter how dirty the tactics are, nor what kind of unnecesary jeopardy is placed on this country by national security leaks, congressional foot-dragging, encouraging spiteful protests leading to more social/public meaningless unrest. In other words the intention being to stir the pot in order to create chaos. It’s enacted perfectly from the Alinsky Rules For Radicals play book.

    Maybe, you will be able to get the job done by blowing up the Trump presidency. But, at what cost will such a brutal attack on our civility be? Furthermore, Michael, if the country suffers too much from the hostile measures you support, all you have to do is give notice on your high-priced rented digs, pack your bags and move to Europe, leaving the left-generated shambles far behind. The rest of us, however, with deeper roots having invested life-long time and assets into homes and businesses, will be left behind picking up the pieces

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