How Trump's Strange Affinity for Mike Flynn Makes Him Guilty as Hell
Under the circumstances, as they unfolded, Trump should have been the first person “out to get” Flynn. He should have felt a sense of personal betrayal.
But he clearly doesn’t feel that way. Instead, his first instinct was to try to protect Flynn.
Most notably, after an Oval Office meeting with national security officials on the terrorism threat, “Trump asked everyone to leave except [FBI Director James] Comey,” and then he made a personal appeal for Comey to cut Flynn some slack. Even after this exchange became public, Trump made sure that official White House statements were crafted to defend Flynn: “While the President has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the President has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn.”
Of course, the investigation of Flynn is not just or even primarily about Turkey, but on the Raqqa question alone Trump should be outraged. And he’s not.
Now, read the following and ask yourself how you would react in Trump’s place: Russian officials bragged in conversations during the presidential campaign that they had cultivated a strong relationship with former Trump adviser retired Gen. Michael Flynn and believed they could use him to influence Donald Trump and his team, sources told CNN. The conversations deeply concerned US intelligence officials, some of whom acted on their own to limit how much sensitive information they shared with Flynn, who was tapped to become Trump’s national security adviser, current and former governments officials said. “This was a five-alarm fire from early on,” one former Obama administration official said, “the way the Russians were talking about him.” Another former administration official said Flynn was viewed as a potential national security problem. The conversations picked up by US intelligence officials indicated the Russians regarded Flynn as an ally, sources said.
If it were me, I’d be suspicious that Flynn had been working for the Russians all along and had been dishonest in his dealings with me and in the advice he had provided me on foreign policy. Maybe I wouldn’t want to admit as much publicly, but I also wouldn’t be inclined to say he was “a decent man who served and protected our country.”
I know it’s difficult to put yourself in Trump’s shoes because he’s a very unusual personality type. But it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Trump is doing one of two things.
The first possibility is that Trump knows full-well that Flynn was working for the Russians because he was working for them, too.
The second possibility is that, for whatever reasons, he can’t allow Flynn to talk to investigators because it would expose misdeeds of his own.
These two possibilities aren’t mutually exclusive, but at least one of them must be true.
Most people are going to gravitate to the second possibility because it’s less grave in its consequences. Perhaps the misdeeds Trump is hiding are not so serious. Maybe he doesn’t want to admit that he didn’t properly vet Flynn or he is trying to hide that he asked Flynn to interact with Ambassador Kislyak because he wanted to start his relations with Russia with a clean slate. Perhaps he’s acting loyally to Flynn in part because Flynn only did what he was told to do and in part because the truth would expose that he’s told some rather extraordinary lies.
Even if we allow for this more innocent explanation, however, it’s really very damning. Trump has repeatedly acted to stymie and shut down an investigation of Flynn, committing clear acts of obstruction of justice that would result in imprisonment for anyone not shielded by the Office of the Presidency’s protections against prosecution.
If he did all this to avoid mere embarrassment and survivable political headaches, that’s kind of incredible. And consider that Trump would in this more innocuous scenario still have plenty of reasons to be furious with Flynn. He’d be hiding that perfectly normal and understandable human emotion and presenting public support for him for purely self-serving reasons. Basically, he’d be saying nice things about Flynn and sending him text messages to “stay strong” and firing the FBI director not because he’s pleased with Flynn but because he’s desperate to keep him from talking.
There’s a narrative that follows somewhat along these lines without quite fleshing out all the implications. The narrative basically says that Trump simply doesn’t understand that he’s obstructing justice.
He doesn’t realize that he’s not supposed to ask the Director of National Intelligence and the head of the National Security Agency to lie on his behalf or to ask the FBI director to quash a counterintelligence investigation and then fire him when he does not. The evidence for this is that he freely admits to (some of) his crimes, which a normal person would not do. And it’s true. There’s something inexplicable about Trump’s behavior because it mixes such a clear consciousness of guilt with actions that would only be taken rationally by a person who feels innocent.
More and more, his only defense is a kind of bottomless cluelessness that caroms off in every direction. He’s a dupe of the Russians rather than a witting participant. He doesn’t understand when he’s been used and betrayed even when it’s staring him squarely in the face. He has no clue what was done by his operatives, so his sense of innocence is real.
He thinks the people who he asks to clear him can do so truthfully because he’s got no attachment to anything approximating reality. He erroneously thinks the president can do whatever he wants because he has a misimpression of how the Constitution and our system of checks and balances are designed to work.
Some people think these hypotheses are both plausible and a defense against removal from office. The truth is, the more plausible these theories are, the more urgently they argue for his removal from office.
TRUMP NEEDS TO BE IMPEACHED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.