After last night’s news that Trump (and Steve Bannon) are now actively deciding whether to fire National Security Advisor Mike Flynn over the recent scandal involving his [hone calls with Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, discussing the Russian sanction something he denied publicly on several occasions, yet which now appears to have been the case, the ice below Flynn got thinner this afternoon when the Trump administration for the second consecutive day sent conflicting signals in its support for Flynn amid uncertainty whether Flynn misled Mike Pence about his conversation with Russia’s U.S. ambassador.
About an hour after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said in a television interview that Flynn “does enjoy the full confidence of the president,” press secretary Sean Spicer released a statement saying President Donald Trump is “evaluating” the situation involving his top security aide. Trump “is speaking to Vice President Pence relative to the conversation the vice president had with General Flynn and also speaking to various other people about what he considers the single most important subject there is, our national security,” Spicer said in an e-mailed statement.
One day earlier, Trump adviser Stephen Miller declined to defend Flynn or say whether his job was safe. Miller, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said Flynn had served the country admirably, but that “It’s not for me to tell you what’s in the president’s mind.”
Now, following the latest report in the WaPo, the young Trump administration may have no choice but to make Flynn the first casualty. According to the Bezos-owned publication, the acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, “and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.”
The message was delivered by Sally Yates and was prompted by concerns that Flynn, when asked about his calls and texts with the Russian diplomat, had told Vice President-elect Mike Pence and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election. It is unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did with the information.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan also reportedly shared Yates’ concerns about Flynn. The pair believed “Flynn had put himself in a compromising position”, thinking that Pence had a right to know that he had been misled, and agreed with Yates’ decision to warn the White House. One official told the Post all three officials believed Pence had a right to know Flynn had possibly misled him about his talks with Kislyak.
Furthermore, current and former officials told the Post they believed Flynn deceived the vice president, adding they could not rule out the possibility he acted with the knowledge of other transition officials. Yates, who was then the deputy attorney general, considered Flynn’s comments during an intercepted phone call with Kislyak last December “highly significant” and “potentially illegal.”
The WaPo adds that an official familiar with Yates’ thinking told the Post she suspected Flynn may have violated the Logan Act, which prohibits U.S. citizens from interfering in diplomatic disputes with another nation. Trump fired Yates last month, after she refused to have the DOJ defend his temporary ban on visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations in court.
Making matters worse – for Trump – is that a senior Trump administration official said that the White House was aware of the matter, adding that “we’ve been working on this for weeks.”
The final nail in Flynn’s coffin is that according to a report in the NYT, the Army has been investigating whether Mr. Flynn received money from the Russian government during a trip he took to Moscow in 2015, according to two defense officials. Such a payment might violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits former military officers from receiving money from a foreign government without consent from Congress. The defense officials said there was no record that Mr. Flynn, a retired three-star Army general, filed the required paperwork for the trip.
If confirmed, and if Flynn indeed lied, Trump will have no choice but to let him go.
And as if to assure of just that, following angry protests from Democrats demanding Flynn’s head on a platter, on Monday evening, the first Republican called for Flynn’s ouster. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) released a statement Monday night casting doubt on National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s position.
“As national security advisor, Michael Flynn is responsible to the President, Vice President and the American people. It is his duty to be fully transparent and forthright in his actions – anything less is unacceptable. If in fact he purposely misled the President, he should step down immediately.”
— Rep. Mike Coffman (@RepMikeCoffman) February 14, 2017
Finally, while earlier this morning we reported that Sean Spicer had the highest odds of being the first Trump admin appointee to be fired, or quit…
… as of this moment, Flynn’s odds have soared, and he is currently in first place – with better than even odds – of being let go.
The ball is now in Trump’s court.