by Eric Zuesse, Strategic Culture:
On October 17th, a document in the case of USA v. Michael T. Flynn was docketed (placed onto the court’s calendar for consideration), which could free Mr. Flynn, and which might even lead to a transformation of the American criminal-justice system.
The legal case against Flynn cannot be truthfully understood unless and until the political battle that motivated it is adequately described:
Flynn had been the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under U.S. President Barack Obama until 2014, when Obama acrimoniously forced him out. Flynn then served for only the first 22 days of Donald Trump’s Presidency as the new U.S. National Security Advisor. The FBI, which still remained headed by the Obama appointee, James Comey, forced Flynn to quit on 13 February 2017. Comey wanted Flynn to testify against the new President — he wanted Flynn to say that in 2016 the Trump campaign had been conniving with the Russian Government.
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(Here’s some background on the origin of that — this take-down of Flynn wasn’t against only Trump; it was also against Flynn himself, and here is why: Flynn in August 2012 had warned Obama against arming the resistance to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and predicted that arming them would likely result in Islamic extremists, allies of Al Qaeda, running the country, if the operation against Assad succeeded. Flynn advised Obama instead to work with Russia against that outcome. Obama ignored his advice, and fired Flynn in 2014, when Obama’s hostility toward Russia had already become public, due to Ukraine’s having turned against Russia in February 2014 and Obama’s blaming Russia for that. Although Obama was, in 2012, privately indicating to Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev that if re-elected, Obama would soften America’s opposition toward Russia, Obama was actually planning to do the exact opposite, and he was even planning to take over Ukraine and expel Russia from its largest naval base, which was in Crimea which was in Ukraine. Flynn didn’t know that Obama’s public assertions about a “reset” to reduce tensions with Russia were only lies. Flynn had believed they were sincere. On the morning of 10 November 2016, just after Trump’s election-victory on November 8th, Trump met with Obama for 90 minutes privately in the Oval Office, and Obama warned Trump not to bring Flynn into his Administration. Trump ignored Obama’s warning. When Flynn was briefly serving as President Trump’s National Security Advisor, Flynn recommended to Trump a comprehensive global peace plan, which would have involved defusing the Middle East, transitioning away from fossil fuels, eliminating sanctions against Russia, and working with Russia to un-do Obama’s 2014 anti-Russian coup in Ukraine. So: the anti-Russian Obama intensely wanted to remove Flynn from the Trump Administration. Removing Flynn was removing the biggest threat against continuing Obama’s intensification of the Cold War, which intensification was Obama’s biggest achievement for America’s military-industrial complex or “MIC”. Trump would then be surrounded only by Cold-Warriors, assets of firms such as Lockheed Martin, the owners of America’s MIC, the Deep State, which controls the top level of the U.S. federal Government in both of the political Parties, which persons have now become America’s permanent government. Taking down Flynn was an important step toward preserving Obama’s legacy — his solidification of the Deep State’s control. Furthermore, Comey’s main lifetime income has been the tens of millions of dollars he has received via the revolving door between his serving the federal Government and his serving firms such as Lockheed Martin. For these people, restoring, and intensifying, and keeping up, the Cold War, is a very profitable business, not merely a matter of serving their friends, who are similarly engaged.)
Apparently, the FBI’s Comey didn’t, at the very start of Trump’s Presidency, feel that a winnable case could be presented against Flynn. On 23 January 2017, the Washington Post bannered “FBI reviewed Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit”, and reported that,
The FBI in late December reviewed intercepts of communications between the Russian ambassador to the United States and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn — national security adviser to then-President-elect Trump — but has not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government, U.S. officials said.
The calls were picked up as part of routine electronic surveillance of Russian officials and agents in the United States, which is one of the FBI’s responsibilities, according to the U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss counterintelligence operations.
However, soon, Comey changed his mind, and he apparently reversed his opinion about whether a winnable case against Flynn existed. (Perhaps this change was due to the increasing frictions between Comey and Trump, which caused Trump to fire Comey on 9 May 2017. Comey might have been disappointed at not being retained into the new Administration. Eight days later, on May 17th, the crescendo of Democratic Party and news-media criticisms against the President for doing that, resulted in the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing Comey’s friend Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to investigate whether Trump had been conniving with Russia’s Government.)
For some reason, Flynn, though he was the former head of the DIA, either didn’t know that “routine electronic surveillance of Russian officials and agents in the United States … is one of the FBI’s responsibilities,” or else he didn’t think that when he was speaking to Russian officials, there was anything illegal in it or in what he was saying in those conversations. These conversations were taking place less than a month before he was to become America’s new National Security Advisor, and everyone knew that Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, Flynn’s immediate predecessor in that capacity, was rushing to make as difficult as possible the types of changes that Flynn — and also Trump — were advocating, in regard to policies toward Russia. The entire Obama Administration were then in overdrive to prevent any such policy-changes. For example, on 29 December 2016, the Washington Post bannered “Obama administration announces measures to punish Russia for 2016 election interference”, and reported that, “Taken together, the sanctions and expulsions announced Thursday were the most far-reaching U.S. response to Russian activities since the end of the Cold War.”
The WP itself might have helped to bring about that change. Their columnist, David Ignatius, whom even the Establishmentarian Democratic Party blogger Marcy Wheeler acknowledged to be “a mouthpiece for the IC [Intelligence Community] (and especially CIA)”, headlined on 12 January 2017, “Why did Obama dawdle on Russia’s hacking?” and Ignatius posed some questions that turned out to be prophetic about the Democratic Party’s subsequent handling of these matters:
“Question 1: Did Trump’s campaign encourage Russia’s alleged hacking to hurt his rival Hillary Clinton and help him, and does Russia have any leverage over him?”
“Question 2: Why did the Obama administration wait so long to deal with Russia’s apparent hacking?”
“Question 3: What discussions has the Trump team had with Russian officials about future relations?”
In relation to #3, he reported that:
According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions? The Logan Act (though never enforced) bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about “disputes” with the United States.
Regarding Ignatius’s “Question 2,” might Obama have held off so late in his Presidency to do this, in order to maximize the public pressure upon his successor to avoid any attempt to reverse Obama’s anti-Russian policies?
Wheeler’s commentary upon that column closed with a question of her own: “Clearly, Ignatius’ source on the Flynn call with Kislyak advanced the story in a direction that led to Flynn’s firing. What else were Ignatius’ source or sources for the this story trying to lead reporting to?” (This would have entailed Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan.)
Flynn hadn’t phoned Kislyak in order to “influence a foreign government about ‘disputes’ with the United States,” but instead to express condolences for the shoot-down over Syria of a Russian plane that had been carrying a choir there to perform, and in order to express the hope for better U.S.-Russian relations — things that an incoming U.S. National Security Advisor is entirely within his rights, and even duties, to do.