It looks like the intelligence community isn’t going to let us forget about Trump’s ties to Russia

As I suspect all of you know, it’s the opinion of our intelligence community that the Russian government played a role in helping Donal Trump win the presidency. That isn’t fake news. That isn’t a conspiracy theory. That’s the opinion of not one, but 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. And, toward the end of his tenure in office, President Obama, confronted by this evidence, took action against the Russians, ordering, among other things, that 35 Russian diplomats be expelled from the country and two Russian compounds in the United States be closed. Surprisingly, though, the Russians did not retaliate. And now we have a pretty good idea why…

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had been in direct contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, discussing the sanctions, just hours after they were announced. We know this, according to the Washington Post, because our security agencies are in the practice of intercepting the communications of Russian diplomats in the country, and, from what we’re told, they have recordings of Flynn’s calls and text messages. This is troubling for a number of reasons. First, it would appear that Flynn, the man who now heads our National Security Council, had no idea that our national security people listened in on calls made to the Russian embassy. [If he had known, he wouldn’t have denied up until this point that he’d been in communication with the Russians about these sanctions prior to Trump having been sworn in.] Second, it would appear as though Flynn, likely working on behalf of Trump, undermined the sitting President of the United States, Barack Obama, by giving the Russians the impression that the sanctions would be lifted as soon as Obama left the White House. And, third… and most importantly… it would appear as though these conversations between Kislyak and Flynn didn’t just start after Trump won the general election. No, according to the Washington Post, sources inside our intelligence agencies have confirmed that we have records of conversations taking place between the two men during the campaign, when we know that the Russians were actively working against Secretary Clinton. The only question now seems to be to what extent Trump and his team were orchestrating things. [Flynn has stopped denying that he spoke with the Russians concerning sanctions, and now just says that he doesn’t remember.]

The following comes from the Washington Post.

..The emerging details contradict public statements by incoming senior administration officials including Mike Pence, then the vice president-elect. They acknowledged only a handful of text messages and calls exchanged between Flynn and Kislyak late last year and denied that either ever raised the subject of sanctions.

“They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,” Pence said in an interview with CBS News last month, noting that he had spoken with Flynn about the matter. Pence also made a more sweeping assertion, saying there had been no contact between members of Trump’s team and Russia during the campaign. To suggest otherwise, he said, “is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy”…

So, where do we go now that credence has been given to these “bizarre rumors”? How do we respond now that we know for certain not only that Flynn was in direct contact with the Russians prior to the election, but that he actively worked against the security interests of the U.S. government?

Well, Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York has an idea. As the second ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Nadler just filed what is called a “resolution of inquiry”, a seldom used parliamentary tactic, which, if successful, would force the Trump administration to share records with Congress. According to Nadler, it would also “force (a) GOP Vote on Trump’s conflicts, ethics violations, and Russia ties.”

At this point, though, I’m not even sure we need for Nadler to be successful. It seems to me that the intelligence community has decided to turn on the spigot and leak everything they know to the media before the administration can do further damage to the United States. [The Washington Post article noted above had nine sources within the intelligence community. They clearly want this out.] The following, by way of background, comes from an article in The Observer titled “Intelligence Community pushes back against a White House it considers leaky, untruthful and penetrated by the Kremlin.”

…(F)ears that the White House is too friendly to Moscow are causing close allies to curtail some of their espionage relationships with Washington—a development with grave implications for international security, particularly in the all-important realm of counterterrorism.

Now those concerns are causing problems much closer to home—in fact, inside the Beltway itself. Our Intelligence Community is so worried by the unprecedented problems of the Trump administration—not only do senior officials possess troubling ties to the Kremlin, there are nagging questions about basic competence regarding Team Trump—that it is beginning to withhold intelligence from a White House which our spies do not trust…

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that career intelligence officers are coming out against Flynn, who was fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency for managerial incompetence, called for Clinton to be “locked up” during the election, and tweeted that the former Secretary of State was likely involved in a child sex ring.

And, as all of this is happening, CNN is reporting that they’ve confirmed several aspects of the 35-page intelligence dossier written by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele about Trump’s ties to Russia. When asked earlier today to comment, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer refused to engage, saying only, “We continue to be disgusted by CNN’s fake news reporting.”

I suspect this is going to be an eventful week.

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5 Comments

  1. anonymous
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Can you imagine what the response would have been if this had happened under the Obama administration? If using an unsecured email server was a jailable offense, I suspect the right would be calling for executions.

  2. Jean Henry
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    We are living in a reality where bureaucrats and intelligence officers are offering the most substantive resistance to totalitarianism and excess use of power. The people are emboldening them subversive actions inside via protest and retweets. But all the heroes so far are inside the system.

    We should all take a moment to absorb that twist into our standard political narrative.

    BBC just referred to white house press policy director on the Sunday morning shows are ‘tongue-tied” about Flynn. They are in trouble. Flynn will likely be sacrificed. Ideally a scape goat will not slow down the pursuit of the truth on this.

  3. Eek
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    If you didn’t see Stephen Miller talking to the media from the White House this weekend, watch this immediately. this is exactly why the intelligence community is losing its shit. It’s truly horrifying.

    http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/-what-stephen-miller-said-should-worry-everyone-875968067895

  4. Citywatch
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Yes, someone will be scapegoated and they hope that will be the end of it. Everything true will be called “fake news” after that, and the Trump administration will issue a bunch of new shiny objects to try to distract everyone. Unless we the people make sure the investigation continues, it will get lost I fear. The good news is that we are starting to identify and understand the techniques they use to obstruct information and obfuscate issues like this. By the way, I saw the male version of Kelly Ann Conway on Meet The Press yesterday. The devil in a good suit. Resist and persist.

  5. M
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    More on Stephan Miller’s performance this weekend.

    “Trump powers ‘will not be questioned’ on immigration, senior official says”

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/12/trump-administration-considering-narrower-travel-ban

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] yeah, it’s being reported by the Washington Post that Trump’s embattled National Security Advisor, Michale Flynn, has […]

  2. […] only did Trump not fire Flynn, but his team continued to make plans. [Eventually, as we now know, members of the intelligence community went to the press with what they knew, thereby forcing Trump t…, and, it would appear, others have now picked up the baton, sharing details about these plans to […]

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