Some of you may be too young the remember Watergate the scandal that ended Richard M. Nixon term as president. It was 1972, during the campaign to re-elect the president (CREEP), when five men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee office in the Washington DC hotel complex known as Watergate. What followed was a cover-up of of the investigation into the president’s involvement The investigation revealed multiple abuses of power by the Nixon administration that led to articles of impeachment and Nixon’s resignation. Sixty-nine people were indicted and 48 were convicted, including two Attorney Generals, several members of CREEP, two legal counselors to the president, his personal lawyer and his chief of staff.
In 2014, one of Nixon’s former aides, Tom Charles Huston, who had written a classified report, disclosed that Nixon had sabotaged the 1968 Vietnam Peace Talks being held in Paris while Nixon was running for president. The release of notes by Nixon then aide, H.R. Haldeman, that were made of a telephone conversation with the presidential candidate on the clandestine effort, confirmed Huston.
Now we have Russiagate. Last night, after weeks of questions about his trips to Russia and phone conversations with the Russian ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration, National Security Adviser Micheal Flynn resigned.
Flynn stepped down amid mounting pressure on the Trump administration to account for its false statements about Flynn’s conduct after The Washington Post reported Monday that the Justice Department had warned the White House last month that Flynn had so mischaracterized his communications with the Russian diplomat that he might be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.
In his resignation letter, Flynn said he had “inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president.”
Flynn was referring to his disproven claims to Vice President Pence and others a month ago that he had never discussed U.S. sanctions against Moscow with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Pence, White House spokesman Sean Spicer and others, relying on Flynn’s accounts, publicly defended him and repeatedly declared in categorical terms that sanctions were never discussed.
So when did Trump find out about this and what was he know. Apparently, Trump has known about this for over twp weeks when the White house was warned by then Acting Attorney General Sally Yates
The message, delivered by Sally Q. Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel, 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, the officials said. It is unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did with the information. [..]
U.S. intelligence reports during the 2016 presidential campaign showed that Kislyak was in touch with Flynn, officials said. Communications between the two continued after Trump’s victory on Nov. 8, according to officials with access to intelligence reports on the matter. [..]
For Yates and other officials, concerns about the communications peaked in the days after the Obama administration on Dec. 29 announced measures to punish Russia for what it said was the Kremlin’s interference in the election in an attempt to help Trump.
After the sanctions were rolled out, the Obama administration braced itself for the Russian retaliation. To the surprise of many U.S. officials, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Dec. 30 that there would be no response. [..]
Intelligence analysts began to search for clues that could help explain Putin’s move. The search turned up Kislyak’s communications, which the FBI routinely monitors, and the phone call in question with Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general with years of intelligence experience.
From that call and subsequent intercepts, FBI agents wrote a secret report summarizing Flynn’s discussions with Kislyak.
Yates, then the deputy attorney general, considered Flynn’s comments in the intercepted call to be “highly significant” and “potentially illegal,” according to an official familiar with her thinking.
Yates and other intelligence officials suspected that Flynn could be in violation of an obscure U.S. statute known as the Logan Act, which bars U.S. citizens from interfering in diplomatic disputes with another country.
What boggles the mind is that Flynn, with all his years in the intelligence community, was not aware that the Russian ambassador was being monitored. This was more than incompetent, it was flat out stupid.
In today’s press conference, White House Spokesperson Sean Spicer dismissed questions about the legality of Flynn’s action claiming that Flynn resigned because he had lost the Trump’s trust. The questions still remain about the administration covering up what amounts to the sabotage of foreign relations while Barack Obama was still and the administration’s ongoing relationship with Russia.
Nixon was well into his second term before his crimes and abuse of power tripped him up. Trump is only in his fourth week. There needs to be an independent investigation outside the Attorney General’s office and the White House. If it’s revealed that Trump instructed Flynn to undermine Obama’s Russian sanctions for interfering in US elections, Trump must be impeached or resign.