Now that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has resigned after being caught illegally colluding with the Russian ambassador, Donald Trump will ostensibly take the position that he wasn’t aware of anything that Flynn and Russia were conspiring on. But here’s why Trump can’t get away with feigning ignorance on the matter: Flynn had already been fired by the United States government, and then paid off by the Russian government, at the time he hired Flynn for the campaign — and Trump knew it.
Michael Flynn’s career history, which you’ll hear a lot about over the next days and weeks, is unnerving to the point of being stunning. He purposely leaked classified information to Pakistan without authorization, which led the United States military to investigate him (source: Washington Post) in 2010. After that Flynn ended up as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, a branch of the Department of Defense, but by 2014 he had been fired (source: Politico) for being too erratic. And from there, Flynn went to work for the Russian government.
Flynn went on to land a job as a prime time host on Russia Today, a Kremlin-funded television news network aimed at feeding English language pro-Russia propaganda to the West. That means Flynn’s salary was being paid (source: Politico) by the Russian government. Flynn was literally on Vladimir Putin’s payroll during his final career stop before he conveniently landed a key role in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The essential question is just how much of the above information Donald Trump knew at the time he decided to hire Michael Flynn as a campaign advisor. Flynn’s employment with Russia Today was public knowledge at the time, meaning that Trump surely knew he was hiring a paid Kremlin spokesman with ties to Putin. And Flynn being forced out of the DIA was public knowledge as well. Other details, such as Flynn leaking classified intel, didn’t become public information until shortly after the election.
But Donald Trump knew he was hiring erratic, disgraced, Russian-controlled damaged goods when he added Michael Flynn as a campaign adviser. And by the time he appointed Flynn as National Security Adviser, he knew Flynn had leaked classified intel. By all accounts, Trump never even liked the guy. So who instructed Trump to keep elevating Flynn? And who still believes that Trump didn’t know Flynn was colluding with the Russian government from day one?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report