What specifically did Michael Flynn do wrong?
These are the three things which I understand about the situation:
- He potentially discussed sanctions with a Russian ambassador
- He misrepresented or lied about his conversations with the Russian ambassador
- He was vulnerable to blackmail
This information has been published by many news organizations, but here's a specific source for the information above.
I have two questions about the current situation:
Was the content of Flynn's discussions with the Russian amabassador illegal? If so, why?
Why did he resign? Was it because of one specific bullet point listed above, or was it the combination of all three and the ensuing bad press?
I don't know that we can answer the second question. At best we could say why they *say* Flynn's leaving. The ultimate answer is going to be "because the president wanted him to leave." Why? That's mostly between them
Re: #2, as they noted back during Watergate, "*It's Not The Crime, It's The Cover-Up*"
Regarding #2, some are theorizing that Flynn wouldn't have made assurances about sanctions on his own accord (that Trump is ultimately responsible here), and that his resignation is therefore an attempt to take the fall and divert attention from Trump's direct role. I find these theories plausible.
Since we can assume that phone calls to the Russian Ambassador in the USA are recorded by the NSA, would a FOI request for the recording of *that* call be possible?
Also look up Keith Olbermann's video on YouTube: _Michael Flynn must now be **arrested**_. In it, he explains very well what happened.
In this case it was apparently the FBI who recorded the call, @MartinSchröder, but you're not likely to get much from an FOI request; they say it's classified, of course.
My real guess is that Trump didn't like him and this was a convenient way to push him out. Lots of people have violated the Logan Act over the years, including Nancy Pelosi, Jimmy Carter (after his presidency, when he had no more authority) and Jesse Jackson. None of these people got much worse than a finger shaken at them. So in reality, what Flynn did was nothing new and no big deal and Trump could have simply ignored this incident. But if you don't like a guy and want to replace him, it's as good of a reason as any.
In addition to the discussion of the sanctions he also accepted money for a TV appearance over there and didn't report it.
This site is hopeless. Once again, a bunch of wildly upvoted answers, all factually incorrect, spouting the liberal narrative. The site is a left wing clique, reinforcing each others' thought bubble. A total waste of time for non-liberal participation.
@JamieB This at least is wrong. Trump liked Flynn. He was probably jettisoned for political reasons.
@fixer1234, The echo chamber is a known issue in internet usage. While you may not feel that your participation is appropriately appreciated, it is essential to help reduce the echo chamber effect. The presence of a dissenting opinion is a critical part of any political discussion.
Flynn was also involved in a kidnapping plot for millions of dollars: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/10/michael-flynn-trump-turkish-dissident-cleric-plot
Update - WH Statement
According to the White House spokesperson Sean Spicer, Trump seemed to have requested the resignation of Flynn due to a "trust issue".
President Donald Trump asked for Michael Flynn's resignation after he lost trust in his national security adviser for misleading Vice President Mike Pence over his calls with Russia's ambassador, the White House said Tuesday.
"The level of trust between the President and Gen. Flynn had eroded to the point where he felt he had to make a change," Spicer told reporters. "The President was very concerned that Gen. Flynn had misled the vice president and others."
Trump therefore felt he could not trust his top foreign policy right-hand and on key national security issues like China and the Middle East, Spicer said.
Basically, he resigned due to violating the Logan Act and causing embarrassment to the Trump administration.
The Logan Act specifically states:
Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
According to this BBC article which includes a timeline of the events, Flynn first spoke to the Russian ambassador in the US on Dec 28:
28 December: Mr Flynn and Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, exchange Christmas text messages by mobile phone
Flynn then spoke to him after Obama introduced sanctions on Russia:
29 December: US President Barack Obama announces sanctions expelling 35 Russian diplomats for the country's alleged interference in the US presidential elections
29 December: Mr Flynn holds a phone call with the Russian ambassador
Flynn took office together with President Trump and his executive team:
20 January 2017: President Trump and his executive team, including Mr Flynn, take office
So, Flynn is still considered a private citizen before he took office on Jan 20. Thus, it's a violation of the Logan Act.
As for prosecution, no one has been prosecuted under this act.
This article by Vox states:
No one has ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act, but Flynn is facing a second and potentially far more dangerous investigation. The FBI is actively probing Flynn’s interactions with Kislyak, and resigning from his White House post won’t shield Flynn from potential future criminal prosecution.
Flynn resigned to avoid embarrassment to the Trump administration since he misled both the public and the Trump administration yet the Trump administration publicly defended him.
As he stated in his resignation letter:
"I inadvertently briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology."
He denied the contact with the Russian ambassador in an interview on Feb 8.
In a Feb. 8 interview with The Washington Post, Flynn categorically denied discussing sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, repeating public assertions made in January by top Trump officials. One day after the interview, Flynn revised his account, telling The Post through a spokesman that he “couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
Even the Vice-President Mike Pence defended him:
Pence said in a Jan. 15 appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Flynn’s conversations with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak 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,” Pence told CBS.
And the White House's Press Secretary:
Pence wasn’t the only administration official to explain away Flynn’s contact with the Russian envoy. Press Secretary Sean Spicer, then a transition official, said Jan. 13 that Flynn’s calls were about scheduling a call for Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin after the swearing in. “That was it,” Spicer said at the time. “Plain and simple.”
So, this caused embarrassment for the Trump administration since they misled the public.
Thanks for the thorough answer! Does the alleged "vulnerability to blackmail" have anything to do with this issue, or it that less important than the two factors you cite as primary reasons for Flynn's resignation?
@arbitrarystringofletters It might, though it's not the officially stated reason as described in this article by the WP. Personally, I would think that the likely reason is to prevent any further embarrassment to the Trump administration.
@arbitrarystringofletters - I'm assuming it's not something more tawdry, and, yes, this issue would give someone material for blackmail. The Russians had first-hand and probably verifiable proof that Flynn broke the law, and then lied about it (since he was breaking the law by talking to them about the matters he did, and they were there), which would give them personal leverage, potentially, over him and possibly the administration. I hope that's all it was about.
“he misled [...] the Trump administration,” okay, yeah, I’m sure. ⌐.⌐ Still, good answer, +1.
@arbitrarystringofletters Yes, the journalist who wrote the Washington Post article has clarified that the nature of the "vulnerability to blackmail" was, in fact, that the Russians knew Flynn discussed sanctions (because they were on the other end of the phone), and then lied about it. So they could potentially threaten to publicly expose his lie in exchange for some concession.
Sorry, I don't buy "causing embarrassment to the Trump Administration" a plausible reason. :D
@blip Lol, anyway, it seems Trump might have requested him to resign instead, according to a WH spokesperson
Since Flynn *must* know that phone calls with the Russian Ambassador are recorded by the NSA/FBI/..., he *lied* either in the interview on the 8th or on the next day. We can assume that Trump et.al. have seen the transcripts.
I don't think a christmas SMS constitutes *influencing the measures or conduct [...] in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States* Normal casual contacts are not forbidden. OTOH a kid shouting at a visiting foreign dignitary "Please don't bomb us!" violates the Logan Act.
@SF.A Christmas SMS is unlikely to be part of the controversy, that's true. But it's not the SMS message that anyone cares about; it's the later (apparently recorded) phone conversation plus the (apparent) statements made by Flynn to Pence (and possibly others) about that conversation. The recording (supposedly) was reviewed after it became clear that there would be no public retaliation by Russia for the latest sanctions, which raised big suspicions about what was really going on.
I think important to add is that there is an ongoing corporate media witch hunt and intentional demonisation of Russia, which causes a climate of fear and distrust, a need to be more careful than necessary. IMO driving a wedge between USA and Russia is indicative of who the media's paymasters are
I think the more important bit of the Logan Act is "or to defeat the measures of the United States".
If what George Logan is supposed to have done in 1798, would violate The Logan Act today, then half of what's on Facebook and Twitter would too.
@Panda As a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General he may also be subject to US Army Regulation 27-10, Military Justice, (which states “Retired members of a regular component of the Armed Forces who are entitled to pay are subject to the provisions of the UCMJ..."). Given his time at the Defense Intelligence Agency, distinguished career, and extensive experience, he knew better. At the moment it seems probable that this play went sideways and he took the hit for the team. If the US Army chooses to open UCMJ charges under 27-10 based on his conduct, this issue may come back into the spotlight.
Flynn did nothing to violate the Logan act. It was his job to talk to the Russian ambassador (as well as counterparts in other countries) in preparation for the new administration. The Russian ambassador mentioned the sanctions, and Flynn said it wasn't appropriate for them to discuss it before the new administration took office. The FBI reviewed the matter and determined that nothing improper took place.
I don't think it's possible for anyone to embarrass Trump more than Trump himself.