Earlier this week, just as it was becoming clear that Michael Flynn was about to cut a devastating plea deal against Donald Trump and other big fish in the Russia scandal, Trump began pushing a weird sideshow story. He suddenly wants to oust Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after months of hemming and hawing about it, as part of a series of moves that would elevate Senator Tom Cotton to CIA Director. Now that Flynn’s deal is official, it reveals that Cotton may have been part of the Trump-Russia conspiracy all along.
Let’s emphasize the word “may” here. Perhaps this is all one massive coincidence. Perhaps Trump really does just happen to be looking to give Cotton a coveted promotion, just as Michael Flynn seems to be pointing the finger at Cotton. But if this is a coincidence, it’s a remarkable one. Flynn is confessing that while he was conspiring with the Russian Ambassador to sabotage President Obama’s Russian sanctions, he was relaying that conversation to the Trump national security transition team. Guess who was on that team? Tom Cotton.
We may have to wait a bit to see whether Flynn is referring to everyone on the Trump national security transition team, or just some of its members. But if Flynn is referring to the entire team, then he’s accusing Tom Cotton of having known about the Trump-Russia conspiracy since at least December. If Cotton knew about that felony conspiracy and failed to report it, he would be guilty of a felony himself, and Trump could be offering him a promotion in the hope of buying his continued silence.
Again, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. We can’t assume Tom Cotton is guilty of anything. But if Michael Flynn really did just implicate Cotton in the Trump-Russa conspiracy, it would very conveniently explain why Donald Trump is trying to buy Cotton’s silence by giving him a promotion, However, if Cotton was looking to disappear into the recesses of the CIA before he could become a suspect in the Trump-Russia scandal, Trump may have blown it by taking this step far too late in the game. Trump should have made the move months ago. Now it may be too late.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report