Michael Flynn was asked to resign last week as President Donald Trump's national security adviser. Flynn had at least five phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak after President Barack Obama placed sanctions on Russia for hacking American email accounts in order to influence the American presidential election. Flynn told Vice President Mike Pence, and the rest of us, that he did not talk about U.S. sanctions with the Russians. He then said that he might have talked about sanctions. Then, Flynn said that he could not remember if he talked about sanctions. But Flynn did not need to remember what he said or did not say; U.S. intelligence agencies recorded his phone calls. Ouch!
Flynn has the unique distinction of being fired by both a Democratic and Republican president. President Obama fired Flynn from his position as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for mismanagement and disloyalty. Within the DIA, the staff called his statements "Flynn Facts," better known today as "Alternative Facts." All of these issues should have been a red flag for Trump, but apparently he is not very good at seeing red flags unless they are flown from Russia.
Flynn also has the distinction of being part of the only father-son team fired by the same president. Michael Flynn Jr., was fired from the Trump Transition Team after he was caught fabricating and spreading fake news about Hillary Clinton running a pedophilia ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant. Apparently, that was over the top, even for the Trump campaign.
This is the second time Flynn lied to Pence since the election. Flynn also told Pence that he had not given his son, Flynn Jr., security clearance while working on the Trump transition team. According to The New York Times, however, "The younger Mr. Flynn had, indeed, been given such a clearance, even though his father had told Mr. Pence's team that he had not."
How did Flynn become a three-star general?
Flynn has a history of being cozy with Russia. In 2015, he attended the anniversary of one of Russia's government-operated television stations. It was a pretty picture of the American general sitting next to Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrating one of Russia's propaganda stations. Intelligence agencies back home were not impressed.
Like his son, Flynn is also noted for spreading fake news about Hilary Clinton during the presidential campaign. Were he and other Trump campaign aides working with the Russians as they hacked into the Democratic Party's email accounts? It is difficult to believe that Trump was not aware of talks between Russia and at least three of his campaign aides. Why did it take 18 days for Trump to fire Flynn after the Justice Department notified the White House that Flynn had lied to them? Is it because none of this was news to Trump?
Comically, according to The New York Times, Flynn was asked to resign by Stephen Bannon, Trump adviser No. 1, because — get this — the White House was concerned that "Flynn would damage the president's image on national security issues." On so many levels it is difficult not to chuckle at this statement.
Kellyanne Conway, Trump adviser No. 2 and defender of the administration's alternative facts, stated in a television interview just hours before Flynn's resignation that, "Yes, General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president." More alternative facts or did they keep Conway in the dark? "No," Conway said in a television interview the morning after Flynn was asked to resign, "my statement was true." Which can only mean that it was false.
Can anyone in the Trump White House tell the truth? The Sunday shows featured Stephen Miller, Trump adviser No. 3, spreading false statements about "thousands of people" bused from other states to "vote illegally in New Hampshire." There is no evidence of this, but do facts matter anymore?
Message to President Trump: If you want to dispel the idea that you are an illegitimate president, you may want to stop spreading false statements about millions of illegal voters and a rigged election. Moreover, if you really believe that the presidential election was tainted by 3 million to 5 million illegal voters, I'm sure many Americans would be happy to oblige you with a do over, without the help of Russia.
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Tom Zirpoli writes from Westminster. His column appears Wednesdays. He is professor and program coordinator of the human services management graduate program at McDaniel College. Email him at email@example.com.