In the write-up “Putin’s Endgame”, we followed the Russian connections of Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Richart Burt. In “Follow the Rubles Part 1” and “Part 2”, we followed Donald Trump’s connections to Russian organized crime and, by extension, Vladimir Putin. This write-up aims to cover in depth the career of alleged-traitor-of-the-week LTG Michael Flynn, the current (as of this writing) National Security Advisor to the Trump Regime, who has made news recently for allegedly lying about communicating with the Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak about (the same-day) sanctions on Russia by the Obama Administration and the possibility of rolling back said sanctions under Trump.
But the Post spoke to nine former and current US officials with knowledge of the call, which was actually recorded by US intelligence agencies (as all such high-level calls to the Russian ambassador are).
Just as an aside before we begin, you’d think the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency would know the US Intelligence Community would monitor Kremlin personnel within the US.. if he didn’t know, he should safely assume. The problem with “useful idiots” is that sometimes they aren’t so useful.
Flynn’s Military Career and “Failing Upward”
From Wikipedia: Mike Flynn served as the assistant chief of staff, G2, XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from June 2001 and the director of intelligence, Joint Task Force 180 in Afghanistan until July 2002. He commanded the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade from June 2002 to June 2004. He was the director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command from July 2004 to June 2007, with service in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) and Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom). He served as the director of intelligence, United States Central Command from June 2007 to July 2008, as the director of intelligence, Joint Staff from July 2008 to June 2009, then the director of intelligence, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from June 2009 to October 2010.
Flynn was investigated twice while director of Intelligence for ISAF, once for illegally sharing classified intelligence with British and Australian allies, and once for sharing classified intelligence with Pakistani officials about the Haqqani terrorist network.
It should be noted at this point that it’s long been known, and backed up by the leaked diplomatic cables, that Pakistan Intelligence (ISI) has maintained a “wink and a nod” relationship with the Haqqani network, even going so far as to fund them for suicide bombing attacks against CIA personnel within Afghanistan. In 2011, Mike Mullen, then the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the Haqqani network as a “veritable arm” of Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s main intelligence agency. Probably not the people you want to share US intelligence with. The CIA suicide bombing occurred a few months after Flynn’s alleged actions.
Then-CENTOM Commander GEN James Mattis had Flynn removed from his position for the latter investigation.
This setback inexplicably resulted in a promotion to director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). His tenure there was rocky almost immediately. Former colleagues described how he lurched from one priority to another and had trouble building a loyal team. “He made a lot of changes,” one close observer of Flynn’s time at the D.I.A. said. “Not in a strategic way—A to Z—but back and forth.” His subordinates reportedly started a list of what they called “Flynn facts,” things he would say that weren’t true, like when he asserted that three-quarters of all new cell phones were bought by Africans or, later, that Iran had killed more Americans than Al Qaeda. In private, his staff tried to dissuade him from repeating these untruths.
He also installed a secret, unmonitored, private internet connection in his office within the Pentagon. This rule, among other DIA rules, he knowingly broke because he considered them “stupid”. It is not currently known why this connection was installed, for what purpose, or with whom Flynn communicated.
Soon, according to former associates, a parallel power structure developed within the D.I.A. to fence him in, and to keep the nearly seventeen-thousand-person agency working. “He created massive antibodies in the building,” the former colleague said. Flynn was fired from the position after just 18 months. In leaked private emails, retired GEN Colin Powell called Trump a “national disgrace and an international pariah” and Flynn “right-wing nutty” for empowering him. “Flynn got fired as head of DIA. … I asked why Flynn got fired. Abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc. He has been and was right-wing nutty every [sic] since,” Powell wrote, later wondering “how [Flynn] got that far in the Army?”
Flynn’s Russian Connections and the Ultimate Fail Upward
Following his retirement from the US Army, Flynn did what many retired Generals do: speaking circuits, television appearances, and the like. This included appearances on Russia’s state sponsored television station Russia Today and meetings with Russian Intelligence Agency GRU and Vladimir Putin less than 18 months after his removal as Director of the DIA. He openly brags that he is the first US Military Officer to have been inside the GRU Headquarters.
Flynn as a private citizen has also, like his current boss, been particularly active on Twitter. Flynn’s meetings with Russia occur around the same time Flynn was tweeting about the Clinton Pizzagate conspiracy theory. This non-story is one of many allegedly linked to the Russian propaganda campaign surrounding the 2016 US Presidential Election.
He also tweeted, and then deleted, an anti-Semitic tweet that infamous white nationalist David Duke later called him out on and subsequently celebrated him for it. Here are some of the other conspiracy theories Flynn liked to peddle, including the spread of Sharia law within the United States, Hilary Clinton’s War against the Catholic Church, and that Obama laundered money to terrorists. Flynn Facts.
Trump named Flynn his National Security Advisor in November 2016. Failing upwards.
Russia and the Trump Regime
Conceding that this is circumstantial at best, it should be noted that Mike Flynn, a man caught twice illegally leaking classified information, and ran a private internet connection out of the Pentagon, is now the United States’ National Security Advisor to the President, that in January Russia arrested and charged with treason 4 alleged spies for the US, and that Trump’s current senior staff utilize private email servers to do business. But suggesting there is a connection there would be crazy, right?
But we digress. The meat of the matter currently lies in Flynn’s recorded conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak, if he talked about Russian sanctions before they happened and prior to Trump taking office, and the fact that he lied about it to investigators. On Christmas Day, before Obama announced his punitive measures against Russia, Flynn communicated with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. That they talked is not in dispute. The issue is what they said. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that their discussions included, if not a warning by Flynn about the pending new sanctions, a promise that whatever Obama did, Trump could undo once he was in office.
If Flynn was negotiating with the Russians on behalf of an administration not yet in power, that could technically be against the law — though it’s a law no one has ever been prosecuted for breaking, the Logan Act. The conversations also expose the Trump administration to more charges about secret collusion with Moscow. Flynn denied he discussed the sanctions, then the following day his spokesman stated that Flynn “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.” In January, Vice President Mike Pence defended Flynn, stating that the talks were “strictly coincidental” and had nothing to do with the Obama administration’s decision to punish Russia for meddling in the November election, which U.S. intelligence agencies agree was intended to help boost Trump’s prospects. “They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”
Evidently this is not the first time that Flynn and Kislyak communicated. In fact, the talks were part of a series of contacts between Flynn and Kislyak that began before the Nov. 8 election and continued during the transition, officials said. In a recent interview, Kislyak confirmed that he had communicated with Flynn by text message, by phone and in person, but declined to say whether they had discussed sanctions.
At this point, what currently remains unknown is what hard evidence exists of this conversation, if Flynn lied about the conversation to investigators, and whether Vice President Pence was lying on behalf of Flynn when he went to bat for him, or if he was just trusting Flynn’s word.
In any case, expect (at least) Flynn to fall. Even Icarus had his limits.