I watch or read a plethora of different news feeds daily, but I confess, most of my TV time is spent watching Fox News, because I’m a conservative. Given that, I’ve been a little embarrassed by the coverage of the latest LTG Michael Flynn saga.
To hear the talking heads on Fox, the FBI was duplicitous and sneaky, endeavoring to gain a perjury trap against Flynn, and because of that, Flynn is completely innocent, and a wrongly convicted man. A hero who wore the uniform and who’s been maligned by the evil deep state, never mind the fact that he himself pled guilty to the charge. I understand that we are in competing narratives in this polarized world, but wearing the uniform means something to me. Something more than the ratings conservative media attempts to gain from viewers by cheering on the absolution of war criminals.
There very well might be a “deep state” involved in his indictment, and the FBI should absolutely be held to account, but this isn’t a black and white situation, meaning if one side is black, the other is white. From what I can see – outside of being able to read the actual documents, like every other person spouting in the 24/7 news cycle – the FBI was duplicitous in its interactions with Flynn, and probably outside the bounds of what should be permissible, but that doesn’t mean LTG Flynn is innocent.
To hear the media talk about the episode, because the FBI was purportedly out to entrap him in a lie, it proves that he isn’t guilty. Even President Trump said the new documents “exonerated” him. That’s simply not true, and the man should be held to account. It reminds me of the movie “Training Day”, where Denzel Washington is a corrupt cop, beating suspects and extorting drug dealers. Is Denzel Washington a bad guy in the movie? No doubt, but that doesn’t mean the drug dealers are innocent or “exonerated”. This entire episode is like having a couple of cops invade the home of a pedophile on a trumped-up reason of “probable cause” and then having the case thrown out because they violated his 4th amendment rights. Yeah, the cops were bad, but the guy is STILL a pedophile.
When Trump was elected president of the United States, my father asked me about the military members he’d chosen for his staff and what I thought. I gave him an answer, and to be sure I wasn’t misremembering, I went back and looked at my texts from years ago. I said, “GEN Mattis is a good dude. Best thing he could do. LTG Flynn is questionable. He’s going to be nothing but trouble, both in the administration and on the world stage.”
I said that not because I had any personal animosity, but because I had personally served with both men. And that reflection holds true to this day. I was proven right.
For all the people that are doing the black-is-white analogy, here is a timeline:
1. Russia interfered in our election. This is undisputed by both sides of the aisle.
2. Obama, because of the interference, threatened to kick out multiple “diplomats” and impose sanctions against Russia.
3. Russia said that if the US does such a thing, they will respond in kind, kicking out our own diplomats inside Russia.
4. Flynn talks to the Russian ambassador, amongst a host of other world leaders as the incoming National Security Advisor.
5. The Russian diplomats are kicked out, sanctions are imposed, but Russia does nothing in return, with Putin indicating they will take the high road. There are no repercussions for Obama’s actions. President Elect Trump comments on the decision, saying, he knew “Putin was smart.”
6. People scratch their heads, saying, “WTF? Why would Putin do such a thing?” Questions began to be raised about Flynn’s conversation with the AMB of Russia. Did he, as an incoming presidential national security advisor, undercut the current administration by promising relief in one month, when the new administration takes over? It grows into such a crescendo that the Vice President elect goes on all the Sunday shows.
7. On just about every Sunday news show, VP Pence says this is untrue. He assures everyone that LTG Flynn has personally told him he did not offer the Russians sanctions relief.
8. The acting attorney general sees this on the same TV screen America watched, and realizes that LTG Flynn is now open to blackmail from Russia. She knows this because Flynn precisely said such a thing because they were doing routine monitoring of the Russian Ambassador’s phone. She approached the incoming administration and said, essentially, “Hey, Flynn’s lying. He absolutely discussed sanctions relief. We have it on tape.”
9, Flynn gets fired for lying to the Vice President elect of the United States.
Okay, that is what happened. These are the facts, and they are not in dispute. Today, you hear President Trump saying over and over that “What happened to Flynn should never happen to any person in the United States”, and that absolutely might be true with respect to the FBI, but Trump himself fired Flynn, not because of the FBI, but because he had lied to the Vice President. As a person who served in uniform, I’ll echo Trump’s comments, saying “What Flynn did should not be allowed by any person in a position of power in the United States.” This is a three-star general, and the new National Security Advisor, who is contacting a hostile state and undercutting his own country’s policies in order to curry favor for an incoming administration. Not only that, he’s dealing with a country that is an enemy of the United States. One that indisputably interfered in our own election. It is, as the judge in his current case said, bordering on treason.
BACK TO THE TIMELINE:
10. The FBI is accused of improperly interviewing him, without using proper White House channels, and, quite possibly entrapped him for lying about his conversations with a hostile foreign power.
And here we end. This is the conservative media focus. This last line. This is what everyone is blathering about, conveniently forgetting all the transgressions that had happened before. It’s the public defender decrying the lack of a search warrant against his client, not the fact that his client is a pedophile. And I’m honestly a little sick of it.
Yes, let’s hold the FBI to account, but in so doing, we shouldn’t whitewash LTG Flynn into some American Patriot. He is not. Beyond what the evidence for this specific case shows, he’s used the veneer of his “general” creds to act as a foreign agent for Turkey, writing OPEDS in newspapers to sway US policy without ever revealing he was being paid to do so by a foreign power, and has taken other money to speak in Moscow for Russian TV, sitting across the table from Vladimir Putin. He is not a hero. He is the worst of America, a man willing to prostitute his own reputation for money and power, and I, for one, don’t have any sympathy for him.
At the end of the day, the FBI might be the devil here, but don’t ever think because that’s true that LTG Flynn is an angel.
Excellent piece. I was wondering what your take was on why the FBI that pursued Flynn so vigorously for his Logan act violation, didn’t seem to have the same standard for Hillary Clinton. You know how General Patreus paid for his classified breech. I was just wondering why the difference in treatment by the Comey FBI. I feel like he has a lot to answer for. Equal justice under the law!
I – and you – have no inside knowledge of what did or did not happen with respect to any investigation. I will say, on the record, that Hillary Clinton broke the law. If I had done that, I would be in jail. Having said that, and adhering to the same principles that guide my life, Flynn also broke the law. I can say that without a whiplash of emotions based on political party because a principle is a principle. The only difference is that I feel betrayed by Flynn, because he wore the uniform. I expect that trash from politicians like Clinton. Not from Flynn, but at the end of the day, he was nothing more than a politician.
As always, a great article.
How do I get notified when new blogs come out? I’m always late to these blogs though I thought I signed on
Thank you -for your insights, your terrific books (no one else comes close. No one else makes even the acknowledgements fun) and of course, thank you for your service.
Care to revise your analysis based on the new documents released? FBI concluded he was honest and were ready to close the investigation when a last minute intervention by agent Styzok keep the investigation open? Rewritten 302s by Page who wasn’t even present. Even Pence now acknowledges that issue with Flynn was probably a misunderstanding. Also the transcripts of the calls have been released… whole lot of nothing there? Plus it appears that Obama went after Flynn because of his opposition to the Iranian deal, which I hope you oppose? The Registered Foreign agent thing is an administrative issue with a $350 registration fee, which most of Washington ignores.
Like your books and came here to see when the next one is coming out having read them all between Nov 2019 and Jan 2020.
As to Mattis being a good dude, only think Obama and Trump have in common is that neither liked home.
Nope. No revision necessary. You’re still fixated on Point Ten. The facts speak for themselves, as does the FBI IG report. Thank you for reading!
Thanks for responding and yes they sure do.
This is hogwash sir. Mattis has always been an overrated POS with a habit of hanging men out to dry both on the battlefield and off. Any writer trying to tell their audience what is definitively “true” or “false” based on the same information available to the reader is nothing more than skullduggery. A special type of hubris is required to self-assign truth to an piece rather than letting the strength of the article reveal itself as such. Exoneration is equally applicable to both the reversal of a crime through demonstration of innocence and/or a flaw in the conviction. The latter being the obvious case here. Discussing sanctions relief and offering/promising sanctions relief are two very different things. If discussing sanctions relief with a sanctioned country leaves someone open to blackmail, then every President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Ambassador, etc. were open to it. Wether one see’s it as “currying favor” or diplomacy largely depends on the lens they choose to view it with.
Since we’re cooking shit stew here, why not mix in some emotionally charged ingredients. A pinch of “war criminal”, a dab of “treason” and let’s top it off with a sprinkle of “pedophilia” and “drug dealing” while glibly charging the media as being polarizing.
Since the interviewing agents explicitly stated that they did not think Flynn lied, let’s go with lying to the VP then. There’s a distinction between lying to save one’s own ass and taking one for the team. I do not claim to know which is the case here but there are elements involved that go beyond the black and white depiction of deception being painted here.
We have an article extolling one General who’s been accused of leaving operators to die in one case and hanging them out to dry in another, who’s been linked to corporate fraud, who supported the JCPOA, who’s never married, who holds no advanced degrees, did heroic stints as a tutor and recruiter during his line time, who’s first command of note came as a half-bird and who’s only non-bureaucrat medal is a Bronze Star w/ V that conveniently lacks a public citation. Let’s not forget his UCMJ applies to thee and not me mindset.
While denigrating another General who deployed to Grenada (Urgent Fury) and Haiti (Operation Uphold Democracy) as a junior officer, who dove off a cliff during Urgent Fury to rescue two soldiers from drowning, who holds three graduate degrees, who did more operational time than Mattis by a long shot, who was the Director of Intelligence for JSOC and later CENTCOM before rising to Director of the DIA, who was part of the team that took down Zarqawi and who also went through Ranger school as an Intel Officer for shits and giggles, as representing “the worst of America”.
It was also cute seeing the author point fingers at Flynn for “prostituting” his reputation for money and power while using his own bonafides in a similar context. Far from simply saying “SMU”, “the Unit” or any other commonly used humble-brag, he just comes right out shining a floodlight on it…something we know they love having former members do. I don’t care that either have used their backgrounds in subsequent sectors, they earned it and then some but accusing someone of something you’re also guilty of – regardless of the varying degree, is BS.
“John Smith”…with a GMX account. Riiiggghhht. Welcome to my blog, Comrade. Why didn’t you just sign this “Q”? Sorry if I upset you with inconvenient facts. I didn’t say he was open to blackmail – the Acting Attorney General did. But she’s probably part of the Deep State involved in a child sex ring. And I laugh at the quote, “who did more operational time than Mattis by a long shot.” He’s a Military Intelligence officer. He’s never heard a shot fired in anger in his entire career, spending all of it in a JOC. Unlike Mattis, who was on the front lines for Phantom Fury in Fallujah. Spare me the comparisons. As for “prostituting” myself vis a vis what LTG Flynn did, all I do is write fiction books. I’ve never used my bio to take money from a foreign NATO ally to sway national security. Actually, I’m trying to remember the last time I was paid to sit with Putin for dinner based on my bio, and I just can’t seem to recall. Varying degrees indeed.
Thank you for all your good works and a great series about the heroes that serve our nation, I have enjoyed 12 of your books and working on 13. You and all your military brothers have worked hard to keep us safe and I do appreciate it vary much,
I really am enjoying the Pike series and am grateful for those who serve. Please keep writing and I will keep reading.
Great article. I agree with you.
Care to revise your opinion about Mattis if the allegations in the Woodward book are true? Scary, if true no? I wouldn’t have come back following our Flynn exchange but given your hatred fo Flynn and love for Mattis I think it bears asking.
No. For the record, I don’t have a “hatred” of Flynn, and I don’t have a “love” for Mattis. Flynn has a history of conspiracy theory thinking and a loose moral code when it came to his conduct after he left the military. Mattis has not. That doesn’t mean I “hate” Flynn or “love” Mattis. For the record, my dealings with Flynn while in the military were positive. It’s not a personal thing. It’s professional. I just blogged the truth. And I find it humorous that Woodward’s book is “FAKE NEWS” for everything but what you can cherry pick to say, “SEE! IT’S ALL A PLOT!”
For, the record I think many things unfavorable to POTUS in Woodward book may be true. But what he said about Mattis may also be true. My impression of your impression of Flynn and Mattis were garnered from your post, Hate and love may have been too strong; perhaps admiration and disdain would have been better. As a lawyer, I’m not so convinced that Flynn lied to either the FBI or the VP, especially after the FBI falsified evidence to procure the first FISA on Carter Page. It would be easier to write off people like me as nuts and conspiracy theorists had the FBI acted above board. I guess reasonable people can disagree. Or perhaps you just think I’m a nut… anyway all the best.
Thanks Brad! Upfront, I am a lifelong Democrat, and former staffer for Democratic elected officials from here in California and a couple of tours as an Advance Person for Vice Presidents Biden and Gore.
So I come to the conversation with a “liberal” background, but also an understanding of WH operations.
I very much appreciate you unbiased take on the Flynn affair. He lied to the FBI, he admitted it, it’s a crime and behavior unbecoming of a an officer or anyone affiliated with any White House, Dem or Rep. That he made false statement about his repeated contacts with Amb. Kislyak only magnifies the seriousness of the act.
As you know, anyone with clearances are required to report contact for foreign persons, especially high level foreign officials. Even as a lowly WH Advance person, I’d be crucified if id had unreported contact with foreign officials, especially officials from hostile states. You know that, I know that, everyone in government knows that. Unfortunately something like protecting of national security was turned into a partisan political issue. Defending the Homeland is so much more important than partisanship. We must restore respect for the rules and behavior that help to keep us safe.
Thank you for call that out!
The real problem with charging Flynn or anyone with lying to the FBI is that as of the last time I worked with Special Agents,* they would not record their interviews .hey do take copious notes, but in the end you said that they say you said. For myself, I always had a tape or later a digital recorder for interviews even on the street. As for Mattis, I had a high regard for him, but some things I have read about him recently involving ‘MARSOC” leave me questioning that admiration.
* As a detective in the local SO I responded to many bank robberies, a crime in which both we and they had jurisdiction. And just like us, some agents were excellent, some OK and some thought they crapped roses. But I recorded every interview.
Still point 10. You’re missing the reason for the post. As for Mattis, he never had anything to do with MARSOC. I don’t know what you’re reading, but I’ve never heard him reference them in any way at all – and he most certainly never had any operational control over them that would allow him to cause them pain. MARSOC was OPCON to SOCOM. Mattis was always pure Marine. They were outside of his chain of command.
My name is Marty Glynn. I’m a fellow retired Army O-5, and we appear to have some mutual acquaintances. I just came across this blog entry, and I’ve got to tell you that there is a lot missing from the story, and therefore from your overall analysis. As an example, I can tell you this: when LTG (R) Flynn was the Director of the DIA, one of his biggest frustrations was that the Obama Administration was unwisely downplaying the significance of the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. His opposition to their party line is what led to his early removal from that position. After his retirement in 2014, his interaction with both the Turks and the Russians was based on his analysis that we’d need the future cooperation of both countries in order for the next administration to be able to get at ISIS and destroy it. He did receive payments for a speaking engagement in Russia and for his work with a Turkish company, but those payments went to his company, the Flynn Intel Group; they weren’t personal income.
I’ll acknowledge that mistakes and miscommunications occurred during his brief time as Trump’s NSA, but again, there’s a lot missing from the media portrayal of what happened, and there’s a lot that the media probably never knew. In any case, I’ve known Mike Flynn for 34 years, ever since he was my company commander back in 1987, and I worked for him in several other assignments while on active duty. He may be a lot of things, but he’s no liar; if anything, he’s brutally honest. I highly recommend that you have a chat with one of our mutual acquaintances, Herm Hasken, about this topic. Herm has worked more closely with LTG Flynn than I have, both on active duty and afterward.
I know Herm and I also know my own service. If anything, LTG Flynn’s actions since I’ve posted this blog prove my point. Calling for coups in the United States and blathering complete nonsense conspiracy theories on a daily basis are not something worthy of his stature. I stand by every word.