As Donald Trump’s designated National Security Adviser, former three-star Army General Mike Flynn will be in one of the most sensitive and influential posts within the new Administration. But his job title is not Cabinet-level and confirmation by the Senate is not required.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Democrats from attacking the president-elect’s choice and even suggesting that Flynn should step aside, saying he “doesn't have the judgment for the job."
Last Thursday, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, told CNN, "Gen. Flynn's trafficking in conspiracy stories that a fourth grader would find incredible suggests either that he's highly gullible or that he's so consumed with malice that he loses his ability to judge what's fact and what's fiction.”
Kaine was referring to the dissemination by Flynn and his son Michael, then the general’s chief of staff, of fake news stories during the election – especially disturbing tweets (#PizzaGate) that linked Clinton and campaign chief John Podesta to a supposed ring of child-sex traffickers run out of the basement of a popular pizza restaurant in Washington.
As reported in a Fiscal Times column early last month calling for Flynn to step aside, scurrilous social media posts about Comet Ping Pong led an armed avenger from North Carolina to invade the restaurant on Dec. 4, assault weapon in hand, to free the young sex slaves. No captives were found. The “white knight” was arrested. And the Comet’s owner pointed out that the restaurant doesn’t even have a basement.
Michael Flynn -- whom Mike Pence said was never part of the transition team until he was contradicted by a transition team spokesperson -- was summarily dispatched, but the General remains by the President-elect’s side.
On Monday, 53 nonprofits signed a letter calling Flynn “unfit for serving in this critical post” because of his “deeply troubling history of bigoted and deceitful statements and his alarming ties to foreign governments….”
Other than J Street, the liberal Jewish organization, and MoveOn.org, a progressive organizing group, you probably never heard of most of the organizations, many of which are religious and/or peaceniks.
But given U.S. intelligence revelations about Russia’s attempts to disrupt the American presidential election process, discredit Clinton and elect Trump through hacking, fake news, and state-controlled media, they have a point about Flynn’s “alarming ties.”
The declassified report on Russian hacking released on Friday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and presented to Trump said in part, “Russia’s state-run propaganda machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.”
“RT” refers to Russia Today, the 24-hour, English-language TV news channel funded by the Russian government. In December 2015, Flynn traveled to Moscow for RT’s 10th anniversary, collected a speaker’s fee that he has declined to disclose, and attended a gala dinner at which he was seated at the right hand of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom the U.S. intelligence report says “ordered the influence campaign” aimed at the U.S. election.
In addition, as Yahoo News investigative reporter Mike Isikoff revealed in November, Flynn “began receiving classified national security briefings last summer while he was also running a private consulting firm that offered ‘all-source intelligence support’ to international clients.”
Beyond that, the Flynn Intel Group, which the general launched after he was first appointed and then ousted as chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency by President Obama, registered to lobby for a wealthy associate of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey while Flynn was advising candidate Trump.
In a New York Times op-ed on Sunday, William J. Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former ambassador to Russia under President George W. Bush, wrote, “The reality is that our relationship with Russia will remain competitive, and often adversarial, for the foreseeable future. At its core is a fundamental disconnect in outlook and about each other’s role in the world. It is tempting to think that personal rapport can bridge this disconnect and that the art of the deal can unlock a grand bargain. That is a foolish starting point for sensible policy. It would be especially foolish to think that Russia’s deeply troubling interference in our election can or should be played down, however inconvenient.”
Thus far, Flynn has been mum about Russian interference in the election, though his boss’s skepticism until a day or two ago may be a reflection of the general’s influence.
Given the fake news, the ties to RT and Putin and possible conflicts of interest not fully explored but troubling on their face, can Flynn be trusted to be a credible counselor to the incoming president on issues affecting the sanctity and safety of the republic?
Just as important, can a critical adviser already compromised be trusted by other members of the intelligence community?
The answers are simple: no and no. And that is why Flynn must go.