(Rich Galen, Mullings) – It is no secret that have not been Donald Trump’s strongest supporter.
I do not think this keeps the President up at night.
But, watching the breathless coverage of The Russian Connection, all I can say is: I’ve seen this movie before.
The Trump-Flynn-Russia story is at the point where the news media in Washington are falling all over one another working their friends, their sources, the guy who makes their toasted bagel with a little cream cheese in the morning … anyone who might have a sliver of information – real or not – that can get them a headline on the web version of their news organization.
See, I wrote that in the same way that news about Russia and the Administration is coming at us.
Let’s take the worst possible interpretation (excluding either money having changed hands or photos having been taken): During the transition, Mike Flynn talked to the Russian Ambassador to the United States about the sanctions that then-President Barack Obama placed against Russia in retaliation for Russia’s having tampered with the U.S. Election.
Let’s say Flynn – still a private citizen because Trump has not yet taken office – says to the Ambassador something on the order of, “Can you get word back to Moscow that it would be in Russia’s best interests not to react to the sanctions and give Mr. Trump a chance to take office and review the situation? If not, the pressure on Mr. Trump to re-retaliate may be too strong for him to ignore.”
Is that a violation of the Logan Act?
The Logan Act is a law that was passed in 1799 and, in essence, makes it illegal for private citizens to conduct foreign policy.
1799 is a long time ago.
This is true: The enacting clause begins with the words: John Adams, President; and, Thomas Jefferson, Vice President …
In the 218 years that have elapsed since the Logan Act has been in effect, know how many people have ever been prosecuted under it? Kee-rekt. Zero.
As I understand it, the FBI knew about Flynn’s telephony because either the U.S. National Security Agency was taping them, or a Russian security agency was taping them or, more likely, both.
The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, thought the phone calls were of sufficient import that she contacted White House Counsel, Donald McGahn, and told him about the situation. McGahn presumably told President Trump on or about January 26.
While that was going on, Flynn was telling just everyone, including the guy who makes his toasted bagel with a little cream cheese in the morning, that he had not talked about sanctions with the Russian Ambassador although that was later amended to he didn’t remember if it came up or not, and later still, according to the DailyCaller.com:
“It wasn’t about sanctions. It was about the 35 guys who were thrown out,”
Which was, of course, the sanction.
One of the people he told that to was Vice President Mike Pence. Armed with Flynn’s personal denial, Pence went on the February 5 Sunday shows and repeated the lie.
On February 9, Pence was, as we like to say here in Our Nation’s Capital, “read in” to the whole thing although there are some reports that suggest the reading in came when he read it in the Washington Post.
If I’ve got this right, then President Trump (who was told about this on January 26, remember) allowed Pence to go on national TV on every Sunday show except CNN (which the White House was boycotting that day) and repeat a story that Trump knew to be false.
Keep in mind, Harry Truman was not told about the Manhattan Project until FDR died, so there is some precedent for this kind of thing.
I don’t have the time or patience to review the nonsense that came out of the mouths of Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer just hours apart, but at about 11 PM on Monday, February 13, Flynn metaphorically found his stuff in cardboard boxes stacked outside the 17th Street entrance to the White House. By Tuesday, his security clearances had been suspended.
It’s a lot of drama, and it’s fun to dissect, but it doesn’t appear to rise to the level of Watergate. In fact, no one has claimed that President Trump has done anything wrong.
But, the sharks are circling. The sharks are circling.
Mr. Galen is a veteran political strategist and communications consultant. He blogs at www.Mullings.com.