Time Machine: Back On Russia


As you may have seen, there was a bit more news about the various investigations into the Trump Administration. I would say they were into the Trump-Russia-Election Meddling connection, but it seems clear that the findings of the investigation would cause the scope to widen. Which you would expect when a core-corrupt organization is put under the spotlight.

 

The global press is unable to keep up with the scope of the investigation as it continues to widen. Major events – the kind that would have created political tsunamis not two years ago – receive little scrutiny, at least for now. I’m in no place to do better than large organizations in investigative reporting. But I also want to try to think about the topic from angles not being covered, maybe I pick up on something small that others have missed.

You probably don’t remember, but three months ago I put out a list of questions resulting from the departure of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. I thought it would be a good exercise to go through them again, see what has been answered and what no; what is still relevant and what not. The news has been so momentous, this might be a way to think about the high-level progress (as well as to check my prescience as to what would prove critical).

Michael Flynn:

Q1: Did Flynn talk to the Russian ambassador before the election?

A1: We know that the Trump Campaign (i.e., before the election) had at least 18 undisclosed calls with Russians. Safe to say at least some of these were with Mr. Flynn. Now – nothing so strange about a campaign talking to a foreign government. But eighteen times? To a hostile government? And then not disclosing them despite the investigation? What happened on these calls?

Q2: For the talks during the transition, did he have permission to have these talks? Was he ordered to have them?

A2: Given the large volume of calls, it seems clear that contact with the Russians was “part of the campaign” rather than the actions of a rogue operative. We don’t know yet where the strategy vis-à-vis Russian interaction was coming from – this remains a key question.

Q3: If so, did he have permission to discuss sanctions?

A3: I have not seen any reporting on this either way. I am not aware of what the Trump Campaign says it needed to discuss on this large volume of calls with our chief global adversary.

Q4: Did he report the results of the calls to Trump (or write a memo etc)?

A4: Again, I haven’t seen anything on this topic. We don’t know what Trump knew and when he knew it about these conversations.

Q5: What was Flynn's testimony to the FBI in the immediate aftermath of the call?

A5: We had the answer to this several months ago: seems his FBI testimony was far from truthful.

Flynn cover-up and dismissal:

Q6: Did Flynn resign, was he asked to resign, or was he fired?

A6: Amazingly, this still isn’t 100% clear to me. The administration has not been consistent (to put it mildly) about why Flynn is no longer our President’s top White House security advisor.

Q7: During the period when the WH was aware that he was a security risk, was Flynn's access to Trump/confidential material/meetings etc curtailed?

A7: A resounding No. Well after the WH was aware of Flynn’s Russia and Turkey ties, he was still central to the decision-making process. He took specific action to veto a plan that Turkey was against, while he was on Turkey’s payroll, while he was National Security Advisor. Let that one sink in.

Q8a: What was the decision-making process behind such curtailment/lack thereof?

Q8b: If Flynn's firing/resignation was due to steady loss of confidence, why was he on the Mar-a-Lago trip less than 48 hours previous?

A8: There is no evidence that the WH had any issue with their National Security Advisor being a foreign agent. Only with him getting caught. We know that the White House was warned about Flynn by at least: