More Asking: How Can Trump & Pence Not Know Risk of Flynn Compromised by Russian Officials?

More news reports is beginning to ask the question: “How did Trump as President who is close to Flynn to the point of considered Flynn for Vice President post and Pence, as head of the White House transition team, did not know Flynn could have been compromised by Russian officials?”

These reports includes, from MSNBC’s Racial Maddow & journalist at the Palmer Reports. The general narrative of the media is that Pence was lied to by Flynn.

On her show Monday evening, Rachel Maddow began connecting the dots regarding Pence and the Flynn affair:

“Vice President Mike Pence, he was the head of the transition when the transition was notified multiple times, including in person twice by Flynn’s lawyers, and in writing by Congress, that Mike Flynn had taken foreign payments. 

“Foreign payments were also the subject of multiple contemporaneous press reports. NBC News reports that the Trump transition had direct knowledge of Mike Flynn’s payments from foreign sources, but nevertheless, Vice President Mike Pence, head of the transition, he proclaims he was perfectly ignorant of that fact until weeks after Mike Flynn was fired.”

The Palmer Report reports: It’s already well established that Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings sent a letter to the office of then vice president-elect Mike Pence back in mid November, spelling out how Michael Flynn was on the take from a foreign government (source: U.S. House website). That’s led us to postulate that the Democrats may have been trying to set up Pence so that if he ignored the letter, it could later be demonstrated that Pence was as knee deep in the Russia scandal as anyone else on Trump’s team (link).

Meanwhile, from the news archive, from several news units, including, CNN and Washington Post, indicates Trump and Flynn has a close and high level friendship. This closeness & friendship, raises the question, what did Trump know about Flynn’s risk of being compromised by the Russians and when.

Michael Flynn did not fare well in the testimony from former DNI Director Clapper and Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Yates confirmed that she reached out to the White House counsel regarding General Flynn after it appeared, based on comments made in the media by the Vice President, that he had lied to VP Pence about his past interactions with Russian officials. Later, in an exchange with Senator Blumenthal, Yates went one step further to suggest that if Flynn told the same lies to the FBI during his sworn testimony that he “could face criminal prosecution.”  That said she declined to comment on testimony offered by Flynn to the FBI. Therefore, VP Pence and other “Top White House officials” could be potentially called as witnesses to the extent that General Flynn is put on trial.

Yates appeared before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Monday in highly anticipated testimony, where she was queried about her Jan. 26 warnings to White House Counsel Don McGahn that what Flynn was telling Pence and others was not accurate. The Russians, she said, were aware of what Flynn was saying, presenting a potential blackmail opportunity. “We believed that General Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians,” Yates said. She declined to provide many details of what was said, citing classified information. She added, “Logic would tell you that you don’t want the national security advisor to be in a situation where the Russians have leverage over him.” But she said that it was not just Flynn’s misleading of the White House that posed problems. “The underlying conduct that General Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself,” she said.

Flynn resigned after the Washington Post reported that intelligence officials had intercepted calls between Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

Donald Trump is facing mounting pressure to explain his ties with Russia after it emerged that he knew weeks ago his national security adviser had misled officials about secret communications with Russian officials but did not fire him. The retired general Michael Flynn was forced to quit after reports that he could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow. Democrats demanded an independent investigation into Flynn’s phone calls with the Russian ambassador, what Trump knew about them and when. A senior Republican promised to examine the matter “exhaustively”, but others in the party were reluctant.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters how the resignation, on 13 February, had happened: “The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable incidents is what led the president to ask Gen Flynn for his resignation.”

He added: “There’s nothing that the general did that was a violation of any sort. What this came down to was a matter of trust.” Flynn stepped down after just 24 days when it emerged that he had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador to Washington before Trump took office, then misled vice-president Mike Pence and others about the conversations. FBI agents interviewed Flynn soon after the inauguration, the New York Times reported. White House officials were reeling from the scandal less than a month after Trump became president amid reports of disarray and dysfunction. They also faced questions over why they had not acted more than two weeks ago when first warned by the Department of Justice that the retired general might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

Spicer claimed that Trump was first made aware that Flynn had potentially misled the vice-president on 26 January and that the White House legal counsel, Donald McGahn, had been investigating the situation since in what Spicer called “a very deliberative process”, determining within several days that Flynn had not broken the law. Spicer flatly denied that Trump had asked Flynn to bring up the issue of sanctions in his conversations with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Asked whether the president had been aware that Flynn might have planned to discuss sanctions with the Russian envoy, the press secretary replied: “No, absolutely not.”

Until 13 February, Flynn continued to have access to top-level information.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, called for an investigation into the “potential criminal violations” surrounding the communications between Flynn and Russia. “The White House knew for weeks that Gen Flynn misled the vice-president and that his discussion about sanctions with the Russian government could potentially compromise our national security because he was subject to blackmail,” Schumer said at a press conference.

Leading members of the House Oversight Committee announced on 25 April 2017 that they believe former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn not only violated the law by failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars he received from Russia and Turkey, but that the Trump White House had refused their now month-old request to release documents related to the Flynn investigation.

Flynn, who served as President Trump’s National Security Advisor for 24 days before being fired in February 2017 for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials, has been under scrutiny for financial ties to both Russia and Turkey. Those ties included a $530,000 pay-out for lobbying work for the Turkish government and $45,000 for an appearance at an RT event. (RT, formerly Russia Today, is an international television station funded by the Kremlin.)

After viewing classified documents on 25 April 2017, House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told reporters:  “Personally I see no information or no data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law, in that he was supposed to seek permission and receive permission from both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Army prior to traveling to Russia to not only accept that payment but to engage in that activity. I see no evidence that he actually did that.”

Chaffetz and the Committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), both signed a 22 March 2017 letter asking for information including security clearances, documents relating to Flynn’s contacts with foreign nationals and government officials, and payments received by Flynn from foreign sources. In the letter, the committee asked for the documents by 3 April 2017. Instead of producing them in the specified time frame, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short sent a response on 19 April 2017 saying none of the documents requested would be released. He cited a number reasons, including that the White House did not have them or that the documents may contain classified information. Cummings told reporters the decision left the committee with no internal White House documents to review.

Some report suggests the Trump’s White House, kept Pence in the dark, when it came to Flynn. Just six days in office, Donald Trump was informed his national security adviser had misled Vice President Mike Pence about contacts with Russia. Trump waited nearly three weeks before ousting Michael Flynn, officials said (source). http://www.startribune.com/trump-national-security-adviser-michael-flynn-resigns/413676083/

In Pence, Republicans see an ally and experienced lawmaker — someone who speaks their language and can serve as a megaphone for their agenda in the White House, CNN reports (source). But, members wonder, if Pence isn’t the main force influencing Trump, how valuable of a messenger will he be? Despite the Flynn upheaval, there has been no falling out between Trump and Pence, according to the administration source. In the White House, Trump and Pence are still seen as having one another’s backs. But there is still deep concern that Pence was given different information than Trump was when it came to Flynn.

It’s confounding, according to the White House source, that Pence was given incorrect information ahead of his January 15 Sunday show interviews where he was set up to speak on behalf of the White House.

One Republican senator acknowledged that reality. “I don’t think he’s quite as close to the inner circle as the inner circle is,” the senator said. “The vice president, really, historically, hasn’t played a central role in things.”In a White House that appears to have several spheres of influence, figuring out where Pence fits in is vital for lawmakers. “Clearly, there are people other than you saying that there are centers of influence that need to be resolved,” said another Republican senator on background.

The relationship between presidents and vice presidents have varied greatly throughout the years. Former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden had an unusually close relationship, as did George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, but that hasn’t always been the norm. Former Biden spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff Lamy tweeted: “Again to state the obvious- anyone think Obama would keep Biden in dark for TWO WEEKS about info directly related to VPs credibility? Nope.”

Some journalist, again, such as MSNBC Maddow, say there is more to the story than the about, raising question how much did Pence know and when, and asking, how is it possible, that Pence, as head of the White House “Transitional Team” did not know about Flynn various compromising behavior. Obama, during his meeting with Trump, after Trump won, also raised questions about Flynn. The nature of these questions and warning to Trump is un-known at the moment.

Again Rachel Maddow (source)asks: How Could Pence Lead The Transition And Not Know Flynn Had Been Compromised?

While the Trump administration tries to downplay Monday’s testimony from former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates as “old news,” several things Yates said gave us further insight into how the so-called head of state dithered for days after he was told that former National Security Adviser was working as a paid foreign agent. And perhaps more damning, Yates also helped prove that pretend Christian VP Mike Pence is almost as big of a liar as his boss.

On her show Monday evening, Rachel Maddow began connecting the dots regarding Pence and the Flynn affair:

“Vice President Mike Pence, he was the head of the transition when the transition was notified multiple times, including in person twice by Flynn’s lawyers, and in writing by Congress, that Mike Flynn had taken foreign payments. 

“Foreign payments were also the subject of multiple contemporaneous press reports. NBC News reports that the Trump transition had direct knowledge of Mike Flynn’s payments from foreign sources, but nevertheless, Vice President Mike Pence, head of the transition, he proclaims he was perfectly ignorant of that fact until weeks after Mike Flynn was fired.”

The Trump team has long maintained that Flynn was let go because he lied to Pence about whether or not he had ever met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But as Maddow noted, that explanation doesn’t make a bit of logical sense:

“Whether or not you care about what the vice president knew about Mike Flynn, whether you care about that subject itself or not, the bigger question is why are they telling this lie about it?. Why are they lying about this stuff? They are telling stories about Mike Flynn that make no sense given we now know about the facts.”

So, Maddow concluded, what Sally Yates said Monday shows us yet again that the administration has been and continues to lie when it comes to the matter of Michael Flynn:

“It is not good for the White House that they cannot come up with a story about Mike Flynn that has the benefit of being true. That was a problem for them before (Monday), it became a much bigger problem for them after (Monday’s hearing). Before (Monday), we knew that he had inexplicably waited 18 days after being warned about Mike Flynn before they fired him. (Monday), that delay became all the more inexplicable and even a little bit scary.”

The Palmer Report reports (source) during her congressional testimony today, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates went out of her way to make clear that she had been giving vice president Mike Pence the benefit of the doubt all along. She stated that she warned the Trump White House about Michael Flynn’s Russian connections in part because she wanted to prevent Pence from unwittingly repeating Flynn’s lies in public. But read deeper into it.

It’s already well established that Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings sent a letter to the office of then vice president-elect Mike Pence back in mid November, spelling out how Michael Flynn was on the take from a foreign government (source: U.S. House website). That’s led us to postulate that the Democrats may have been trying to set up Pence so that if he ignored the letter, it could later be demonstrated that Pence was as knee deep in the Russia scandal as anyone else on Trump’s team (link). Let’s say Trump resigns under pressure of scandal. Then the Democrats would have an instant scandal on Pence.

For her part, Sally Yates had to have already been aware of Cummings’ November letter to Pence by the time she came across separate evidence in January that Flynn was dirty on Russia. So even tough Yates says she warned the White House about Flynn in order to protect Pence from any further unwitting culpability, she had to have already known that Pence was willfully complicit.

So why would Yates have gone to the Trump White House to warn them about Flynn in order to protect Pence, if she already knew Pence was in on it? It may have been a way of helping further demonstrate Pence’s culpability. Pence failed to fire Flynn after learning of what Yates had to say, demonstrating that Pence hadn’t actually been lied to by Flynn; he wasn’t nudged out until after it all leaked to the media. So was Sally Yates helping the Democrats set up Mike Pence for a fall all along? We may never know for sure.

Flynn started getting classified national security briefings in the summer of 2015 while he was still consulting international clients on intelligence matters, according to Yahoo News. Flynn Intel Group also appears to be lobbying for the Turkish government and has reportedly been paid thousands of dollars for it. Flynn is also an ally of Palantir, the data analysis company co-founded by Peter Thiel, the Republican billionaire who took down Gawker and gave $1.25 million to the Trump campaign. Flynn said that he had spoken to Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Trump but was ultimately most impressed with Trump, someone who, like himself, he sees as an outsider who speaks bluntly. “This is a guy that provides a different vision, a different way to solve problems, a different leadership style, and a sense of change that I believe that a majority of people in this country are really starting to look at,” he told CNN. He was ousted from his role as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014.

Flynn was forced to resign after two years in his post, pushed out by the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and the director of national intelligence. He wrote in the New York Post that he had been trying to “change the culture of DIA.” Flynn added, “After being fired, I left the meeting thinking, ‘Here we are in the middle of a war, I had a significant amount of combat experience (nearly five years) against this determined enemy on the battlefield and served at senior levels, and here it was, the bureaucracy was letting me go.’ Amazing.” Meanwhile, leaked emails revealed that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had asked why the “right-wing nutty” Flynn was fired. Powell said he was told “[Flynn was’ abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc.” Shortly after leaving the DIA, Flynn became a vocal critic of Obama. This was looked upon with disapproval by former colleagues. According to Vox, there is a direct connection between his “enmity towards Obama and Clinton” and “his abrupt dismissal from the DIA.” He told Foreign Policy, “I’m not going to be a general that just fades away.”

Like Trump, Flynn has been highly critical of Hillary Clinton’s emails. “I have called on Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race because she — she — put our nation’s security at extremely high risk with her careless use of a private email server,” he said. “Lock her up. Lock her up! Damn right. Exactly right. There’s nothing wrong with that!” Adm. Michael Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Washington Post in a statement that Flynn’s behavior in the election broke code (Mullen was equally critical of Clinton supporter retired Marine Corps General John Allen). “For retired senior officers to take leading and vocal roles as clearly partisan figures is a violation of the ethos and professionalism of apolitical military service.” Two retired officers told Vox that they found Flynn to be “unhinged.”

In an interview with Al Jazeera in May, Flynn did not denounce Trump’s Muslim ban, but he did say that “There must be more precision in the use of the language that he uses as the potential leader of the free world.”

For his part, Flynn has broadly painted Islam as “a cancer” and has said that “Islam is a political ideology masked behind a religion,” shoehorning the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims together in language that The Intercept described as showing a “lack of precision,” the very critique Flynn had of Trump.

Flynn strongly believes that “radical Islamic terrorism” is the single biggest threat to Americans. He is the co-author of a book called The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies. In another Al Jazeera interview, Flynn said, “I’ve been at war with Islam, or a, or a component of Islam, for the last decade.” He tweeted in February that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” and though the tweet has been repeatedly criticized, Flynn has not backtracked or taken it down. Flynn was once against waterboarding but has softened his stance since aligning with Trump, who has said that he would allow waterboarding and that “torture works, OK, folks?” Flynn claims that as an intelligence officer in Iraq, he helped end abusive interrogation practices. “We were going by the book,” he told The Intercept.

Instead of renouncing the use of torture or the committing of war crimes, Flynn said this about Trump’s statements: “Here’s what a guy like Donald Trump is doing: He’s basically saying, ‘Hey, look, all options are on the table,’ and being very unpredictable in the face of a very determined enemy.” Human Rights Watch says that Flynn shows “a stunning contempt for the Geneva Conventions and other laws prohibiting torture.”

Washington Post reported (source) Trump was considering Flynn for Vice President position, indicating close relationship between Trump and Flynn.

After weeks of focusing on a group of current and former elected officials in his search for a running mate, Donald Trump is increasingly intrigued by the idea of tapping retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn to project strength and know-how on national security, according to four people familiar with the vetting process. Flynn, a registered Democrat but fierce critic of President Obama, previously ran the Defense Intelligence Agency. The people who spoke with The Washington Post on Saturday did so on the condition of anonymity to discuss their private conversations in recent days with Trump’s confidants and campaign aides.

The turn toward a military figure is being driven by Trump himself rather than by his advisers, the people said, and comes as the real estate mogul is telling his friends that national unrest may demand a “tough and steady” presence alongside him on the ticket. In Flynn, they added, Trump thinks he would have a partner whom he trusts, based on their close working relationship over the course of the campaign on policy. And he likes the image of a businessman and a general coming to Washington as outsiders.

The shift in how Trump is evaluating his short list has also been spurred by his growing sense that he does not necessarily want or need a running mate who will satisfy Republican insiders, in spite of long saying that he would probably go that direction. Instead, and after some testy exchanges with GOP lawmakers during his visit Thursday to Capitol Hill, Trump is more open than ever to a non-politician. As multiple people explained, Trump is eager to rally the party around him but sees the convention and other parts of the campaign as integral to that goal, with the vice-presidential nod potentially more important in terms of what it broadly symbolizes to voters.

“Trump-Flynn. I’ve heard him say that, kind of test out the sound of it,” one person said of how Trump is mulling the possibility. “I think it’s a brand he finds appealing.” A Trump campaign spokeswoman declined to comment. A spokesman for Flynn was unavailable. Flynn’s formal vetting by the Trump campaign was first reported by the New York Post. In an interview with the newspaper, Flynn did not deny that he was under consideration.

“All I would say is that I have been honored to serve my country for the past three decades and look forward to serving in other ways now that I am retired from the U.S. Army,” Flynn said. “I’ve been a soldier too long to refuse to entertain any request from a potential commander in chief.” Still, Trump remains undecided on his vice-presidential pick, the people said. While warming toward Flynn, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, among several others, are being vetted, and many of his associates are urging him to go with a seasoned governor or senator who could help to unite the party.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s