Late in the evening on February 13, 2017, one of the innumerable controversial appointments of the Trump administration finally had a spark of ethical conduct and resigned. Michael Flynn, the retired Lieutenant General with a history of consorting with national adversaries like Russia, is the first public defection from an administration that in just three weeks managed to alienate allies, damage trade relations, and risk turning back the clock in limiting the creation and storage of nuclear weapons.
Early Signs of Ethical Qualms
As a member of the Army, Flynn has purportedly spent a lifetime striving to protect the United States in accordance with his oath and military ethics. After 33 years, he was forced to retire from one of the most highly regarded and sought after positions in the military intelligence apparatus back in 2014. The reasons for this, according to the Washington Post, included the inability to maintain a stable work environment free from rancor and dissent. This culminated in a damaging leak of classified material that gave his opponents in the DIA the ammunition needed to have him removed.
Considering his inability to work with others in his field, and his superiors, the question one should ask if he should have been allowed to work as a town dog catcher, let alone as chief national security adviser.
I’ll also note that National Security Advisor requires no Senate Confirmation, a process he probably wouldn’t have passed, nuclear option or not.
Ties to Russia
One of the greatest requirements any member of the national security apparatus must adhere to includes a total disconnect with the machinations of foreign states. Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn broke this with aplomb on many occasions, consorting with Russian officials in ways that the FBI has determined to be potentially illegal.
Why is it a problem for someone in this position of trust to be compromised in such a manner? Simple – the more leverage a foreign state has the better deal it will be able to strike. For instance, Russia has many outstanding diplomatic issues with the United States ranging from Ukraine to Iran to internal dissent and the restrictions of civil liberties striking the country. Having the ability to force a high ranking member of the Federal government to take certain options off the table when it comes time to make a hard decision can only improve the enemy state’s position diplomatically, economically and militarily.
The FBI’s Concern
The FBI has had its hand’s full vetting members of the incoming administration. This is par for the course, considering the number of new hands required to keep the ship of state stable at any given moment. One key background investigation kept cropping back up with more and more troubling results. And no, the background wasn’t on famed bigot, anti-Semite, and all around despicable white supremacist Steve Bannon (the paperwork on that one has already gained enough mass to form a black hole) – it was on our favorite retired general.
The investigation has centered around Flynn’s relationship with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyk, specifically, a series of phone calls the two old acquaintances had on December 29th, 2016. The calls were recorded by and reviewed by numerous investigators who discovered a possible violation of the Logan Act. For those that are unaware, the Logan Act is one of those laws you have to really go out of your way to violate. It prohibits private citizens from engaging in negotiations with foreign governments on behalf of the United States. In simple terms – the man was discussing policy in a capacity he had neither the clearance nor the job title required to handle.
The topic? The economic sanctions pushed onto Russia after they stoked internal unrest in the Ukraine and invaded with soldiers that had been stripped of their identification.
He lied about the calls when they came to light, saying that he was arranging a phone call between the then-President Elect. The FBI refuted this directly the President shortly after the inauguration. For the next month, Trump supported this charlatan posing as a man of valor and decency.
His resignation contains a half-admission of the truth. He stated that he made false statements, but did not include the entirety of lies he has uttered to get into the position he just vacated. This individual stands as a testament to the quality required of public officials in the Trump administration, and as such serves as a siren call for those seeking truth and transparency in government. Use his failure as a springboard to demand good governance from those that remain.