Politics in the United States seem to always have an element of unconventionality about it and Trump’s first year in office has pushed such elements to the limit. At the center of the media zoo is Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser and his involvement with Russia. It’s ironic that Trump built his campaign on the foundation of the “Crooked Hillary” mentality when his own camp has recently begun to reveal its own shady agenda. Here is what we currently know about Flynn’s dealings with Russia and what implications they have for Trump’s inner circle.
What We Know: Three Lies
Under the investigative efforts of Robert S. Mueller III, Flynn recently entered a guilty plea regarding his involvement with Russia and, more specifically, his relationship with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The investigation of the former national security advisor revealed that he told three lies to the FBI, which has now taken center stage in the realm of politics. Flynn originally lied to the FBI about his efforts to dissuade Russia from responding to sanctions brought against the country by former president Barack Obama; the sanctions Obama imposed were in reference to the Russian interference during the most recent presidential election. This is obviously problematic considering high-ranking officials, such as VP Mike Pence, had sworn that there had never been any exchange between the U.S. and Russian officials during Trump’s campaign. As Mueller’s investigation gained speed, it became clear that such an assertion was completely untrue.
Flynn also lied about his attempts to persuade Russia to “delay the vote on or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution,” according to a document that outlines the official charges being brought against Flynn. The UN resolution in question was about the illegal housing that was set to be constructed in Israel. This instance is yet another example of Flynn’s communication with Russia and begs the question of whether Flynn acted alone or if other officials participated in the various exchanges.
The final lie that Flynn told the FBI was that he was unaware of his lobbying efforts benefitting Turkey. Flynn’s company, Flynn Intel Group, had registered to lobby before the election but did not register as a “foreign agent,” but then later registered with the Department of Justice in an attempt to cover their tracks. The three lies told by Flynn are pivotal for Mueller’s inquiry of the former national security adviser and serve as the catalyst for the charges brought against him.
What Does It Mean for Trump et al?
Flynn’s willingness to fully cooperate with Mueller’s investigation might allow him to avoid jail time, but what are the implications for the rest of Trump’s camp? As a former top adviser to Trump’s campaign, Flynn, with the potential promise of immunity, holds the power the implicate other officials close to the president for any potentially shady dealings they might have had with other Russian officials. A “USA Today” article explains that Flynn is the “fourth former Trump aide to face criminal charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election,” a number that makes Trump’s newfound presidency appear to be shrouded in deceitful dealings.
The most recent news that has come to light continues to cast a very dark shadow over Flynn, and subsequently Trump’s first year in office. A whistle blower, who remains anonymous, came forward with information that Rep. Elijah Cummings penned a letter that detailed Flynn’s problematic communications with Russian officials. Flynn claimed that one of the first orders of business for the Trump administration would be “ripping up” sanctions that were brought against Russia last December. There is now speculation that the removal of such sanctions might have reaped economic benefits for the former national security advisor.
In a New York Times article, it became known that ending such sanctions would “allow a business project he [Flynn] had once participated in the move forward.” The specific business project Flynn was involved in was a partnered endeavor involving Russia and focused on constructing nuclear power plants in the Middle East. Literal minutes after Trump was sworn into office, the whistle blower claims that Flynn was texting his business partner claiming that their business project was “good to go.” The removal of the economic sanctions would mean that business could resume for Flynn and his business partners and consequently allow for a large cash flow to begin.
Claims of Russian interference is a topic that permeated Trump’s campaign and is also something that the current president has vehemently denied. Trump, in the past, was accused by Comey of asking the FBI to halt their probe of Flynn and, to this day, deems such an accusation as “Fake News.” The Flynn debacle gives credence to the claims of wrongful communication with Russia during the election and portrays the president and the rest of his camp in a very bad light. In typical Trump fashion, the president took to Twitter to address the firing of Flynn last February, explaining that the former national security advisor lost his job because he lied to the VP and FBI. This tweet was met with a firestorm of replies that questioned whether or not the president was aware of Flynn’s deceit when he had asked Comey to abandon his investigation. While Trump claims his tweet was crafted by his lawyer rather than himself, the situation just speaks to the idea that honesty is a characteristic that the Trump train seems to be severely lacking.
As more information comes to light, it becomes painfully clear that the relationship between the United States and Russia is far more intermingled than previously thought. Michael Flynn has fallen from grace; going from a politician excitedly cheering “lock her up” in reference to Hillary Clinton to then signing his own guilty plea with the FBI. While all of the information hasn’t surfaced yet, one thing is for sure: Mueller’s investigation has just begun and Flynn might not be the only politician to fall.