Tuesday, February 14, 2017

TOP STORY >> Flynn’s rookie errors

Leader executive editor

An embattled White House is looking for a permanent replacement for its ousted national security adviser who lasted just three weeks on the job after he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador in Washington in December.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who lost his job as White House national security adviser late Monday night, was caught in a lie you’d expect from a rookie spy, not an experienced intelligence operative like Flynn, who called and texted the Russian ambassador before Christmas to reassure him the incoming Trump administration would drop sanctions against the Kremlin despite evidence it interfered with the election.

He first tried to deny that sanctions were brought up with the ambassador and told Pence they were exchanging holiday greetings, but when the FBI produced the transcripts, Flynn knew he was through. He should have been fired on the spot.

Flynn’s rookie mistake was not realizing the FBI was tapping into the ambassador’s cell phone and recording Flynn’s conversations with the ambassador, which were in violation of the Logan Act, which made it a crime for civilians to meddle in diplomacy.

The Russians were also taping Flynn, which was an-other rookie mistake for a top national security adviser.

Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, was smart enough to use an intermediary before the 1968 election to send word to the South Vietnamese that they would get a better deal from Nixon than Hubert Humphrey, his Democratic opponent.

Kissinger left no trail, which is why he wasn’t prosecuted under the Logan Act. But those with long memories still remember, and Kissinger knows it. You could trace his nervous tick to that dirty trick he pulled in 1968.

Flynn’s career ended after the FBI revealed the wiretaps made him susceptible to Russian blackmail. The White House said Tuesday the president knew three weeks ago Flynn was lying, but Pence didn’t find out till Thursday.

Imagine that: A national security adviser suspected of being a Russian plant, along with a team of advisers that the FBI and CIA said they could not trust with state secrets. K.T. McFarland, one of Flynn’s aides, is said to be on her way out. Expect other resignations to follow.

Congressional investigators should look into Flynn’s contacts with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, a high-ranking member of the Russian Federal Security Service, the KGB’s notorious successor once headed by Vladimir Putin.

Flynn’s dramatic fall has not only cost him his career, but he faces criminal charges that could lead to a reduction in rank and pension.

This must be a first: A national security adviser who is considered a security risk.

Intelligence agents leaked word that Flynn couldn’t be trusted with state secrets because of his close ties to Putin, who paid for Flynn’s trip to Russia in 2015 to celebrate the anniversary of Russia Today, a notorious government TV channel that lies constantly, especially about the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. (RT on Tuesday announced Flynn’s “retirement.”)

Flynn, who did not clear his Moscow trip with the military beforehand, faces prosecution not only over the Logan Act but for taking money from the Russians in violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause passed by our founders, who feared foreign bribes could influence the young nation’s politics. We ignore the founders’ wisdom at our peril.