This week, the New York Times reported that in the days before the crowning of King Trump, National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn had a cozy little chat with Russian ambassador Sergei I. Kislyak.
During that chat, Flynn and Kislyak discussed sanctions against Russia that were being put into place by President Obama. Allegedly, his message to Russia was this: whatever Obama was going to do during his last days in office could easily be undone by his successor.
Toward the end of December, then-President Obama imposed sanctions that included the expulsion of a number of individuals and the closing of three companies that allegedly interfered in the recent U.S. election. At the time, Trump expressed his view that the country should “move on to bigger and better things,” while a member of the Obama Administration said that while Trump could reverse the sanctions by executive order, he did not believe it would be a sensible course of action.
Just before those sanctions took effect however, Trump’s own national security chief apparently decided to offer some reassurance to the Russians that “relations would change” under the new Administration.
Unnamed sources from the Obama Administration told the New York Times that Flynn “urged Mr. Kislyak to keep the Russian government from retaliating over the coming sanctions…by telling him that whatever the Obama administration did could be undone” – before those sanctions had even been announced.
Responding through a spokesperson, Flynn initially denied that he discussed the sanctions with Kislyak.
Appearing on CBS’ Face The Nation, Vice-President Michael Spence also denied that Flynn had any such discussion, or that there had been any contact between Trump’s transition team and the Russian government at all.
However, transcripts taken by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement (which routinely monitor such phone calls) tell a different story. According to unnamed officials who spoke with the Washington Post on condition of anonymity, there were clear indications that Flynn was attempting to placate the Russian ambassador.
One of them says, “Kislyak was left with the impression that the sanctions would be revisited at a later time.”
Flynn’s conversation could constitute a violation of the Logan Act of 1799, which expressly forbids private citizens from engaging in private diplomatic correspondence and engaging in negotiations with foreign governments. If nothing else, it was a serious breach of ethics and protocol.
Unfortunately, there are two problems. First of all, in 218 years, nobody has actually been prosecuted for violating the Logan Act. It isn’t clear how such a prosecution would proceed, given that there is no precedent. Secondly, we are dealing with what is possibly the most corrupt and tyrannical Administration in U.S. history. The so-called “executive” is a pathological liar who repeatedly flaunts the law – and obviously considers himself and his inner circle to be above those laws by which the rest of us must live.
In fact, when repeatedly asked about the scandal, the POTUS has refused to give any response, claiming on Saturday morning that he had no knowledge of the story and would need to look into it.
So good luck holding Flynn or any members of King Trump’s royal court accountable anytime soon.