Late last night, just hours after the revelation that Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn had illegally colluded with the Russian ambassador both before and after Election Day, the Central Intelligence Agency took swift punitive action against Flynn and his staff. Depending on the specific sequence of the events, which is still being determined, it’s possible Trump’s own newly appointed CIA Director has gone rogue against him as the Russia scandal threatens to take Trump down.
Here’s what we know for sure: after the Flynn-Russia revelation yesterday, the CIA denied security clearance to one of Flynn’s top deputies, Africa Robin Townley. In so doing, the CIA knowingly and immediately forced Townley out of her job, which requires the clearance in question. In other words, they got her fired on the spot. It’s been confirmed that CIA Director Mike Pompeo signed off on this action, which makes logical sense given the severity of it and the potential fallout. But what’s not yet known is whether Pompeo had Trump’s approval at the time.
If Donald Trump gave his blessing for a CIA action which resulted in the firing of his own National Security Advisor’s top deputy, that would be a definitive signal that Trump is now attempting to isolate and scapegoat Michael Flynn for the Russian collusion scandal. But if CIA Director Mike Pompeo took the action of his own accord, that would mean that Pompeo has gone rogue against the Trump administration with regard to the Russia scandal. And politically speaking, the latter may be the more likely scenario.
Although Mike Pompeo was just recently hand picked to run the CIA by Donald Trump, he was not a part of the Trump campaign; until this month he was a Republican Congressman from Kansas. In other words, Pompeo almost certainly had no hand in, and likely no knowledge at the time of, the Trump campaign’s Russian collusion — meaning he’s not a guilty party in the conspiracy.
Now that Mike Pompeo is in charge of the nation’s spy agency, he has likely learned the extent of the Trump-Russia scandal. And if Pompeo is freezing Flynn out without bothering to get Trump’s blessing, then it suggests that he knows the whole thing is going to come crashing down. Unlike Trump, Pence, Flynn, and other players who are knee deep in the Russia scandal, Pompeo knows the Russia treason won’t come down on his head. In the end he’ll only be judged on how he handled the fallout. And if Trump’s own CIA Director is unilaterally moving against Flynn, then it would mean Trump has already fully lost control of the Russia scandal, and it’s about to explode.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report