As a military intelligence officer, Michael Flynn enjoyed a meteoric rise. He eventually earned three stars following brilliant assignments as the intelligence chief for Joint Special Operations Command and the U.S. command in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Flynn crashed in his next assignment, being fired from his job leading the Defense Intelligence Agency. And in just 24 days on the job as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Flynn crashed even more spectacularly, leaving a smoking hole atop the National Security Council.
There is a risk that the smoke of Flynn’s crash will obscure the larger questions that remain regarding Russian influence on the 2016 election and the Trump administration’s uncomfortably cozy ties with Russian officials and oligarchs. The reporting regarding Flynn’s departure—not to mention the countless conflicts of interest in the White House—shows that the Trump White House cannot investigate itself, let alone answer these questions. The time has come to appoint a special counsel, to protect our national security and ensure the rule of law.
A brief survey of the Russia-related issues afflicting the Trump team shows how mired in this swamp (sorry!) the administration has become. During the campaign, the U.S. intelligence community reached the conclusion that its counterparts in Russian intelligence, as well as firms tied to the Russian government, had waged a broad “influence campaign” to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process” and to help elect Trump. Several of Trump’s former campaign leaders maintained close ties to the Russian government, and reportedly are now under federal investigation for those ties. Flynn also kept such ties, including retainers that may run afoul of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause due to his status as a retired military officer. Meanwhile, President Trump and his businesses retain deep financial ties to Russia—ties that bind the president himself because of his continuing refusal to divest his assets or eliminate his conflicts of interest.
Read the full article at Slate.