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Flynn Drama Has All The Intrigue Of A Russian Spy Thriller

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Flynn Drama Has All The Intrigue Of A Russian Spy Thriller


If the late, great Donald Westlake had written spy thrillers instead of crime capers, they’d read a lot like the opening weeks of the Trump administration. My favorite Westlake novel is “Bank Shot,” in which a gang conspires to steal a temporary bank building by towing it off with a truck, only to confront the reality—oops!—that Long Island is indeed an island, and they can’t haul the thing to the upstate boondocks without encountering police road blocks.

That’s when things get complicated.

Well, things have suddenly gotten complicated for the Trump White House and its timid enablers among congressional Republicans.

Let’s put it this way: the simplest explanation that fits the facts could be that President Trump encouraged national security adviser Michael Flynn to sweet-talk the Russian ambassador about U.S. sanctions imposed by President Obama for interfering in our presidential election, and then urged him to brazen it out when word of their improper conversations leaked to the press.

Trump, see, would likely have been ignorant of the fact—as he’s ignorant of so much—that NSA would monitor the calls and that their contents would alarm intelligence professionals. Assuming minimal competence, Gen. Flynn—the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency—surely knew that the Russian ambassador’s phone conversations were intercepted. But he may have assumed that the president could protect him. Indeed, until the Washington Post put well-sourced accounts of those conversations on the front page, it appeared that the White House would brazen it out.

Minimal competence is probably all that should ever have been expected of Flynn, who was sacked from the DIA job due to managerial bungling and a fondness for conspiracy theories.

Seriously, didn’t it make you a little uneasy to know that the genius advising our impulsive Commander-in-Chief subscribed to the “Comet Pizza” conspiracy—the idea that Hillary Clinton ran pedophile orgies in the basement of a Washington pizza joint that doesn’t even have one?

“Lock her up!” the general chanted at Trump rallies.

Seriously. I wouldn’t trust the guy to walk my dogs. But that’s just me.

A Democratic president that appointed an aide whose previous job was starring on a Russian propaganda TV network…

Republicans would squawk like a tree full of screech owls.

Meanwhile, Flynn’s not the first, and he’ll surely be far from the last to learn that Trump’s insistence upon personal loyalty is a one-way street. The president appears to recognize little difference between running the White House and running scams in the cutthroat New York real estate game.

But this ain’t real estate or reality TV. Trump’s foolhardy bravado is catching up with him fast. Maybe he and Flynn also assumed that if push came to shove, Vice President Mike Pence could be rolled.

And maybe he could have been. That is until then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates told the White House that she feared that “Flynn had put himself in a compromising position” and that Pence had a right to know that he had been misled.

The vice president would be an odd politician indeed if the phrase “President Mike Pence” didn’t occur to him then. Yates, along with director of national intelligence James Clapper and CIA director John Brennan, warned that Flynn had exposed himself to Kremlin blackmail.

On CNN, the ubiquitous David Gergen, who has worked for four presidents, said “It’s unimaginable that the White House general counsel would sit on it (and) not tell anybody else in the White House. In every White House I’ve ever been in, this would go to the president like that,” he said, snapping his fingers.

Meanwhile, Trump fired not Flynn, but Sally Yates.

On Feb. 13, Kellyanne Conway told reporters Gen. Flynn had the president’s complete confidence. Early on Feb. 14 news shows, she clung fiercely to the fiction that the White House had been kept in the dark. By noon, White House spokesman Sean Spicer assured reporters that Trump had been all over the situation for weeks, and had demanded Flynn’s resignation.

The collective incompetence is a wonder to behold.

Leave it to Sen. John McCain to describe the “troubling … dysfunction of the current national security apparatus.” He added that the whole farcical episode “raises further questions about the Trump administration’s intentions toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia, including statements by the President suggesting moral equivalence between the United States and Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, threats to our NATO allies, and attempted interference in American elections.”

In terms our Queens president would understand, Trump appears to have put his withered testicles right into Vladimir Putin’s muscular hand. Also into FBI director James Comey’s who may feel the need to regain his forfeit honor.

Do you suppose Flynn told FBI investigators the truth about his Russian contacts while he was lying to the vice president?

And if not, then what?

This ain’t real estate now.

IMAGE: National security adviser General Michael Flynn arrives to deliver a statement during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington U.S., February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate.

A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows.
Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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  1. Whittier5 February 15, 2017

    Lt Genl Flynn was a 30+ year staff officer and 3 star general. Unless he has been a Communist mole for some time, he would not have “freelanced” his communications with the Russian ambassador. That his contacts were with the ambassador and not some FSB operative underscores that his communications were a high level communication from the new so-called Trump Administration.

    Trump, or Bannon, or both, had to request Flynn contact Kislyak. Flynn did not go rogue.

    1. I of John February 15, 2017

      I agree a long time general keeps to the chain of command or die trying. He had to be ordered to cross the rubicon.

    2. Wolfesgang February 15, 2017

      But what if the ambassador is an FSB operative too?

    3. Theodora30 February 15, 2017

      Flynn is not your typical general. He got fired by Clapper because he was out of control. Flynn is also a big believer in crackpot conspiracy theories. He was hanging out with Putin and getting paid by Russia Today, Putin’s propaganda network, before he went to work for Trump.
      The FSB is enmeshed with all of Russian government officials so stating that it was the ambassador, not an FSB agent, that Flynn was talking with is meaningless a and Flynn knows that. After all Putin was a KGB/FSB agent. (And today the Times is reporting that the Trump campaign was in direct contact with Russian intelligence operatives.)
      I can see this either way. Flynn is arrogant enough and well connected to Russia so he may have been operating on his own or in concert with guys like Bannon , Carter and Manafort to manipulate Trump. Or Trump could have been in on it. My best guess is that these guys were playing Trump. He seems too stupid to be the mastermind of this. Of course Trump could have been responding to Russian blackmail threats. It was reported this week that at least some of the reports in the dossier compiled by the ex British agent have been confirmed.

      1. Eleanore Whitaker February 15, 2017

        Trump WAS in on it. Trump knew since January Flynn lied to Pence. Pence was informed of the lie last week. How much more of this refusal by Republicans to allow an open, independent investigation do Americans tolerate? If this was Hillary, she’d be dangling from the end of a rope. Forget what they’d do to Obama. It can’t be imagined.

        When you look at why Putin had it out for Hillary since 2012 when she uncovered Putin’s attempt to sabotage his own Russian election (not unlike Trump and the Republicans) and you take into account that Flynn opposed Obama for not adding him to the Obama cabinet, you see these men for what they are: spiteful, vicious attack dogs.

        1. plc97477 February 15, 2017

          The only different is dogs are more intelligent.

          1. Eleanore Whitaker February 15, 2017

            Trump is all too predictable to those of us who worked less than 50 feet from a CEOs office 5 days a week for nearly 4 decades. Not all CEOs are like Trump. But, enough of them are to make what they do suspect.

            Trump is not a leader and never has been. He is a “pointer and delegator” who has a lazy streak borne of Mommy Mary Ann’s determination to teach her fair haired little boy how entitled he is to luxury and excess. Sadly, he is more Mommy than Daddy.

            It is true Daddy Trump was a financial shark in real estate. And that right there is the clue to what Trump and Putin are after…world power and land grabbing.

            Trump already did that here in NJ when he wanted a prime piece of Atlantic City land on a marina and the boardwalk. The obstacle was dozens of private homes. Not to worry, Trump did the wink, wink, nod, nod with AC politicians and voila! Those homes were taken by eminent domain by the town. A huge, angry lawsuit ensured. In the end, these people lost their homes because Trump had their neighborhoods declared, “Blighted Areas.” Not one month after the AC courts settled in Trump’s favor, (OH gee big surprise! NOT), the contractors were out there bulldozing homes people owned for 3 or more decades.

            What Trump wants, Mommy Mary Ann taught him he MUST have.

        2. FireBaron February 15, 2017

          (to be read in a Boris Badinoff or “Fearless Leader” voice) In Russia, election results are what President (for eternity) Vladimir Vladimirovich, Tsar of All Russias, say they are. Anyone deny that go to Gulag!

          1. Eleanore Whitaker February 15, 2017

            Brought a smile to my face FB…Thank you!

            Trump’s attempts to launder Putin’s reputation nothwithstanding, Putin wants to return Russia to the status of the Union of Soviet Socialists Republic (USSR). A handful of tyrannical men as the ruling class lusting for world power over the US and China, its most competitive enemies.

        3. Theodora30 February 15, 2017

          I was referring to all the communications during the campaign and
          transition. I would not be surprised if Trump was in on that, but on the other hand, I could see Flynn, Bannon, etc. working behind his back because Trump is such a loose cannon. And I would bet they view him as their stooge, not their fearless leader.
          Bannon has strong ties to the “Traditionalist” movement which is a far right worldview adhered to by Russia’s Aleksandr Dugin as well as right wingers in Europe and the Catholic Church (Cardinal Burke, for example). Bannon has given speeches citing Julius Evola who was an Italian intellectual who inspired fascists.

    4. Eleanore Whitaker February 15, 2017

      Can you thus explain why Flynn is not the first US general to sidle up to Putin? The other one defected and is now in a mental hospital. It appears that these top military are prime targets for Putin to scoop up at their most vulnerable.

      Let’s not normalize treason as we all understand the meaning of the word. All you hear from Republicans these days is “well Obama did it too.” No. Obama didn’t. Obama placed sanctions on the Russian government for a reason: There was sufficient CIA and FBI evidence of election hacking.

      At this point in time, we have NO idea what the Russians are doing with the data they mined and collected. How isn’t that a risk against our National Security?

  2. I of John February 15, 2017

    “The collective incompetence is a wonder to behold.”. Ah the quote of the day…next “withered testicles” of course but we can’t use that one in mixed company can we?

    1. FireBaron February 15, 2017

      Personally I like to believe they have all succumbed to “Delusions of Adequacy”.

  3. jim muster February 15, 2017

    You ain’t seen nothing yet !!!!!!Sorry America.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker February 15, 2017

      How very appropriate. We ARE now a SORRY America! You can thank that cancer in the White House. At this very moment in time, we don’t have any stable leadership. Just a money mad bunch of men willing to crash the country and our government so long as it means making them billionaires for life.

      1. iamproteus February 15, 2017

        Isn’t there a practice known as “asset confiscation” that comes into play when drug dealers and the like are concerned? When (not if) the country comes to it’s senses and puts Democrats back in power, perhaps the concept should be applied to those who have abused their power to amass those billions. Just think of the good those billions could do in paying down the debt that has resulted from the evil machinations of those politicians and “business” people who have done so much to put us in the present situation.

        1. Eleanore Whitaker February 15, 2017

          Asset confiscation usually follows in drug cases after the perpetrator has been found guilty. I’m not certain elected officials can have assets confiscated.

          One of the reasons Trump used the excuse that his Trump Organization couldn’t be divested is due to the fact that it would have disclosed his links to Russian real estate deals This is what is at the heart of Trump’s comradeship with Putin.

          The problem is that with a Republican majority in Congress, the Koch Republicans know any Trump disclosures would clearly implicate both Ryan and McConnell.

          This doesn’t mean all is lost to Americans who want a clean, transparent government. Democracy uner our Constitution grants the people power over government through checks and balances. The steps the Dems like Conyers, Waters , Schumer and Lewis are taking are forcing the dirty Republican linen to be outed stains and all.

          Everything they dumped on Hillary now pales by comparison to the massive corruption of the GOP.

          1. iamproteus February 15, 2017

            Thanks for the “come-back”, Eleanore. Sometimes my fantasies about retribution for what you so accurately refer to as “the massive corruption of the GOP” just cry out to be expressed!

          2. Eleanore Whitaker February 16, 2017

            You’re welcome. Since I live in NJ, The breaking news that a Russian spy boat is just off the coast of Long Island has all of us jumpy.

            I was a Republican woman from 1966 until 2004. The GOP today is nothing more than some bizarre, deformed version of the Confederacy. Sadly, today’s GOP politicians believe if they are armed with total control over the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary branches of government, they can “reform” government to look as it did back in Pre Civil War plantation days.

            Whenever I listen to the likes of Cornyn, Gohmert, McConnell, Ryan or the rest of the Confederate loving politicians, they always sound as if they are from some foreign country in a time and era that is long gone. They hate change, hate progress unless it flushes our Dem state tax dollars to their states and most of all hate anyone who dares disagree with their backward estimation of what a world power like the U.S. should be.

  4. Dan S February 15, 2017

    Let’s face it. The chaos President doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing or knows what’s going on. This idiot got elected lying thru his teeth and wouldn’t know the truth if it fell in his lap. I seriously doubt Trumpie knew Jack about what Flynn had done until a few days ago. Somehow we must resist this incompetence in Washington and take back our country from these jackals like Steve Bannon

  5. PrecipitousDrop February 15, 2017

    Does this mean that Iran is still “On notice!”, or whatever?

  6. Eleanore Whitaker February 15, 2017

    You know the very worst of this? Trump is a cancer on this country that has metasticized to the military and Republican Party. While we knew the Republican Party was dirty, we NEVER believed it was possible to brainwash a highly decorated military general like Flynn. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear that Flynn’s 2013 visit to Russia was another of the Putin attempts at brainwashing.

    It just makes NO sense that Flynn would go from an honorable military leader to a Trump cancer cell. More obvious is how Ryan and McConnell, two of the MOST guilty of the Republican Party refuse to allow Trump’s tax records to be released from the IRS. They know why. It would clearly show what Ryan and McConnell don’t want ANY American to know: They took Trump money or payoffs in whatever form from money that came from Flynn’s visit to Russia. So this morning, on Good Morning Joe, Ryan and McConnell, two COMRADES in CRIME are to be interviewed together. Is that supposed to exonerate them from their guilt?

    Since Flynn is now the 2nd military general Putin was able to “milk” for his determination to make Russia the No. 1 World Power, how do we trust any of those in military? Great work Trump and Republicans! NOT

  7. Ben Franks February 15, 2017

    Trump is the Manchurian candidate! The Repubs know it and don’t care so long as they have power. If Hillary or her people had had even one contact with the Russians during the election and won, the Teanuts would be screaming so loudly they would have pissed their pants. The Russians helped Trump steal the election and the Repubs will never let that be investigated. FBI Comey knew during the campaign about the contacts and instead of informing the public, he came out with a bogus email investigation. Foxes and chickenhouses!

    1. Eleanore Whitaker February 15, 2017

      Trump is no Manchurian candidate. But when you live 10 hours a day in the corporate life, you do become brainwashed by subtle corporate CEO stroking you often don’t even realize until you unhinged yourself from the corporate cesspool.

      Since the CIA and FBI both have evidence that Flynn was in Moscow and dealing with the RT there back in 2013, it is possible Flynn is the one who may have succumbed to the sublties of Russian brainwashing. Not that that excuses his rants about Hillary, “Lock her up!” and that crappola that “SHE has committed more crimes….”

      The FBI at this point can’t afford to continue to save Ryan or McConnell, Trump or Bannon, Conway or Spicer.

      If you listened to Spicer’s press conference yesterday, you’d think YOU are the one who is brainwashed. As for that maniac Steve Miller who insists you BETTER accept his lies or ELSE! he is another of the mentally warped brainwashed nuts.

  8. rhetoric_phobic February 15, 2017

    Trump is the useful idiot of Russia as well as Bannon and his band of neo-nazi scum.
    All Trump wanted is for the WH gig to further his business interests and that of his (The Purge) family. He picked a Christian Supremacist for VP., to give everyone pause when they have him dead to rights about his assholery. Some of the republicans didn’t support trump until he selected Pence.
    I’m just hoping Pence is caught up in this particular net too as a President Pence is just a different kind of nuts, but no less nuts. Bannon the nazi has his own sinister agenda and wouldn’t necessarily be less of a force under Pence. If he’s useful, he’s in. Forget the tenets and doctrines of any religion.

    1. Jinmichigan February 15, 2017

      Not sure President Ryan is an improvement.

      1. rhetoric_phobic February 17, 2017

        Oh I am in total agreement about that. But we’re left with only lesser evils down the line. At least there is no Russian connection and Ryan does have a level of decency above trumps. Ayd Rand not withstanding. 😀

  9. Jinmichigan February 15, 2017

    Having a very difficult time trying to imagine anything Comey could possibly do to regain his honor.

  10. EMS February 15, 2017

    As I see it, could this be the REAL reason why Yates was fired? Although she actually did say “NO” to Trump, she really had nothing to lose, and can be proud of taking an honorable stand.

  11. browninghipower February 15, 2017

    This is a very dangerous time because Bannon can only see this is The Opportunity to attack either North Korea or Iran.

  12. Aaron_of_Portsmouth February 15, 2017

    Rather than refer to this as the Flynn Drama, we should always think of this as the Trump-Flynn Drama, because Flynn is a flunky in comparison to Trump. And let us never discount Bannon who probably sees Putin as a hero in his demented quest to install a White Supremacy “Caliphate”, with Steve as the Grand Vizier advising the Caliph, Shaykh Donald Abdu’l Trump Aziz.
    The article astutely points out the lack of Shaykh Trump’s interest and mental lassitude in understanding the ramifications of how the Intelligence Services work on both sides of the Atlantic, and across the Pacific towards Yakutsk in the other direction

    1. ray February 16, 2017

      Bannon is on the NSA now that is scary.

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    I profited $104,000 last year by freelancing online a­n­d I manage to accomplish that by working part time f­­o­­r several hrs each day. I was following work model I stumbled upon online and I am amazed that i was able to make so much money. It’s newbie friendly a­n­d I’m just so blessed that i found it. Check out what I did… http://statictab.com/owgxpdb


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