Flynn is an Albatross around Trump's Neck

 

Trump, Bannon Said To Weigh Firing Mike Flynn Over Russian Phone Calls Scandal

Via Anti-Media News Desk

(Zerohedge) Top White House aide and policy adviser, Stephen Miller, sidestepped repeated chances during Sunday news shows to publicly defend embattled National Security Adviser Michael Flynn following reports that he engaged in conversations with Russian diplomat(s) about U.S. sanctions before Trump’s inauguration. The uncertainty came as Trump was dealing with North Korea’s apparent first missile launch of the year and his presidency, along with visits this week from the leaders of Israel and Canada.

Pressed repeatedly, Stephen Miller said it wasn’t up to him to say whether the president retains confidence in Flynn. “It’s not for me to tell you what’s in the president’s mind,” he said on NBC. “That’s a question for the president.”

While Trump has yet to comment on the allegations against Flynn, the White House said in an anonymous statement Friday the president had full confidence in Flynn. But officials have been mum since then amid fallout from reports that Flynn addressed U.S. sanctions against Russia in a phone call late last year. The report, which first appeared in The Washington Post, contradicted both Flynn’s previous denials, as well as those made by Vice President Mike Pence in a televised interview.

Now we know why the administration has been so quiet about the fate of Flynn. As the WSJ reports, the White House is reviewing “whether to retain Flynn amid a furor over his contacts with Russian officials before President Donald Trump took office, an administration official said Sunday.” Flynn has apologized to White House colleagues over the episode, which has created a rift with Vice President Mike Pence and diverted attention from the administration’s message to his own dealings, the official said.

“He’s apologized to everyone,” the official said of Mr. Flynn.

Still, the WSJ concedes that Trump’s views toward the matter aren’t clear. In recent days, he has privately told people the controversy surrounding Mr. Flynn is unwelcome, after he told reporters on Friday he would “look into” the disclosures.  At the same time, Trump also has said he has confidence in Mr. Flynn and wants to “keep moving forward,” a person familiar with his thinking said. Close Trump adviser Steve Bannon had dinner with Mr. Flynn over the weekend, according to another senior administration official, and Bannon’s view is to keep him in the position but “be ready” to let him go, the first administration official said.

The paper also adds that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, hadn’t yet weighed in on Flynn’s future yet as of Sunday evening.

For those who may not have followed the story, Flynn initially said that in a conversation Dec. 29 with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, he didn’t discuss sanctions imposed that day by the outgoing Obama administration, which were levied in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Flynn now concedes that he did, administration officials said, after transcripts of his phone calls show as much. He also admits he spoke with the ambassador more than once on Dec. 29, despite weeks of the Trump team’s insisting it was just one phone call, officials said.

If Flynn had promised any easing of sanctions once Mr. Trump took office, he may have violated a law that prohibits private citizens from engaging in foreign policy, legal experts have said. That would mark the first instance of a person close to Mr. Trump found to have inappropriate links to Russia, a subject U.S. officials have been investigating for months.

U.S. intelligence services routinely intercept and monitor conversations with Russian diplomats, officials have said. While the transcripts of the conversations don’t show Mr. Flynn made any sort of promise to lift the sanctions once Mr. Trump took office, they show Flynn making more general comments about relations between the two countries improving under Mr. Trump, people familiar with them said.

Flynn’s alleged lies have angered VP Mike Pence, who in television interviews vouched for Flynn, administration officials said. Pence and Flynn spoke twice on Friday, one official said quoted by the WSJ.

Reince Priebus is leading the Trump administration’s review of Flynn.

Some administration officials are hopeful Mr. Flynn would resign on his own, a person familiar with the matter said. Some people close to Mr. Trump already are speculating on possible successors, including retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who advised Mr. Trump during the campaign and who is chief of staff of the National Security Council.

Jettisoning Mr. Flynn might end one controversy, but would potentially feed perceptions of a disorganized White House, some people close to Mr. Trump said. That’s one reason the White House might be hesitant to cut ties to Mr. Flynn, they added.

Meanwhile, Democrats smell blood and want Flynn out immediately.

As pressure built on White House officials, Democrats on Sunday pressed for an independent investigation into Mr. Flynn’s conversations with Russia’s ambassador.

“Either he was lying about discussing it or he forgot,” said Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.), speaking Sunday on CNN. ”You don’t want a guy in either of those scenarios to be in that position.”

Franken has also called for an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s and the administration’s ties to Russia, citing allegations of Kremlin interference in the 2016 U.S. election and Mr. Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, as candidates have done since the 1970s. “We don’t know what [Mr. Trump] owes Russia,” Mr. Franken said. “We don’t know how many Russian oligarchs have invested in his business.” At the same time Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.), who lead the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subpanel on crime and terrorism, already have launched an investigation of Russia’s efforts to influence the U.S. election.

While the situation remains liquid, two things are certain: Trump will have a “kneejerk response” tweet momentarily, and the market will interpret this latest tremor inside the White House as even more bullish.

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simian (not verified)

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As I recall, Bush the Dimmer invaded Iraq on a pack of LIES. Objective #1 was to use the tragedy of 9/11as a pretext for the Iraq invasion so that the Bush oil cronies could divvy up the oil fields. It was corporate interests over national security. The same thing is going on here, if you care to look. You have the angry white billionaire, petulant, cry-baby president president tRump who is more concerned with lining his pocket than doing any actual good for the country. His cabinet is the wealthiest, most conflicted in history and nearly every nominee has dedicated their adult lives to undermining the very departments they were nominated to. For you anti-government enthusiasts, who do you think this anti-government, anti-regulation benefits? It's not average Americans, I assure you. They are dismantling your rights and privacy from under your very nose. They are trying to codify corporatocracy into our treaties that government judicial systems can't touch. Hillary is more of a Hawk than Obama but let's never forget the mess GWB left in the Middle East—generations of resentmewnt. Trump and his so-called advisors are pushing him to a war with Islam—a "clash of civilizations" as they call it and they want it. I agree peace is always a better option but when you conflate the self-dealing going on with Russia as diplomacy you are allowing yourself to fall into their perception trap.
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Anonymous (not verified)

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Amen.
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Anonymous (not verified)

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Simian - the name says it all. Why do you advocate for war not peace? How can one find peace without being able to talk? Why did your heroes BO and HC give away the game when they fell over themselves in bowing to Iran and North Korea while failing to support their own red line as well as going silent on Russia's supposed aggression until after losing the election? You, Simian, sound more a loser - a Monday morning complainer - than a fair observer. We are where we are today. What is your suggested course? I am certain you must have one being so certain in your views.
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simian (not verified)

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It shocking that the same voices clamoring "Lock her up!" are not only worse with national security issues, but possibly treasonous, as another commenter suggested. It does not help to be a Trump apologist and try to divert attention to white house leakers as the more important/only issue. That is just a deflection on how corrupt to the core this administration is from the get-go. The Russian connections are vast. Here is an article about some of the Trump Administration Russia links and the fate of some of the Russian sources of the infamous Russian dossier, which gains more credibility daily: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-fates-of-5-men-connected-to-the-trump-russia-dossier_us_589f5472e4b080bf74f03cd6 Particularly interesting (to me) was Carter Page, an early Trump advisor who was both an advocate for Russian [ahem] diplomacy and an early casualty for his connections: "Carter Page. On March 21, 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump told the editorial board of The Washington Post that Carter Page was a key member of his foreign policy team. To be clear, Trump cited Page, unprompted, by name—indeed, Page’s was one of the very first names Mr. Trump could think of in offering up his roster of foreign policy advisers. Four months later, Page travelled to Moscow to give a speech at the Higher Economic School. It was at this point, according to the Steele dossier, that the CEO of Russia’s national oil company, Igor Sechin, offered Page brokerage of a 19 percent stake in the oil company if he would convince Mr. Trump to lift U.S. sanctions on Russian oil. Four days after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Russia sold a 19.5 percent stake in its oil company to an undisclosed buyer." This is not about "leaks". This is about encouragement by Americans for a foreign country to interfere with American politics for personal gain by an incoming president and his associates through high-level international corruption. It might possibly become know to be the lowest point in American presidential politics. It's a disgrace. Terrible. Awful. The worst. Really, really awful stuff here. But go ahead and try to defend the indefensible.
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Stiv R (not verified)

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I'm just surprised that it seems no one else is surprised or concerned that the US security services are still monitoring and recording all digital communications of all Americans (i.e. spying), including top-level administration officials, and then selectively passing along certain transcripts to news-media (Washington Post) where it can do the most damage to the current administration. I thought there is a law prohibiting this kind of internal spying on Americans. Isn't that why Edward Snowden made his revelations? Isn't this one more example of the US security services subverting the political system in the US? It's not the Russians, it's our own people doing this.
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Roger (not verified)

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Trump Is an Albatross around Trump's Neck. Since El Exigente is not forthcoming on issues where his butt is at stake, until proven otherwise there is every reason to suspect that Flynn acted at the behest of his buddy Trump. Unfortunately, there is no political entity in the U.S. capable of pressing that case. It's as if Reagan had no part in delaying the American hostages release until the moment after his inauguration. Casey thought up the whole thing and did it in secret. Note that both acts subverted the policies in force by the government of the United States at the time. There is a word for that.
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Andrew Pillet (not verified)

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The Logan Act needs some updating. It is from circa 1799. That was during the Adams administration and only one transition had ever occurred. There certainly should be exceptions during a "transition" and it just goes to show you that even in the early days of the republic, congress was meddling where it should not have. The Democrats shouldn't be calling for Flynn's head. Instead, they should be offering legislation setting limits as to what the transition team can and cannot do.