Although they both operate from an Embassy, there is a distinct difference in temperament between a diplomat and an intelligence officer. Whereas the former tries to solve problems by negotiation, which implies adopting a conciliatory attitude and avoiding issues that are too conflicted, the latter, at the risk of oversimplification, has to “stick his hand in the wound,” in the manner of a modern Saint Thomas, that is, he should describe and treat the world as it is, without hesitations and without concessions. This training and this experience helps explain my tendency to look at events without illusions and to describe them in a sharply realistic manner that is at sometimes at odds with the conventional wisdom. I prefer to think in irony, to perceive the paradoxes that abound in life as a means towards greater understanding.
And so, as an ex-intellgence officer, and at the risk of oversimplification, and furthermore not possessed of all the facts, I would suggest that the core issue in the current Russia investigation is what happened on December 29, 2016. Donald Trump had been elected but had not yet taken office. Three things happened in succession on that day. President Obama announced sanctions against Russia and the expulsion of Russian diplomats; Michael Flynn contacted Russian UN Ambaassador Sergei Kislyak by telephone; and Vladimir Putin announced he was not going to retaliate with tit-for-tat expulsions, whiich is the universal Russian reaction.
Was the untypical Russian reaction due to Flynn’s phone conversation? If so, what motivated Flynn to make the contact? He could have done it on his own, as he was familiar with the Russian scene. Or he could have done it on the orders of incoming President Donald Trump. Though the U.S. Govenment recorded the Flynn-Kislyak conversation (and which has not been disclosed), we don’t know what motivated Flynn to make the ccntact with the Russian ambassador. Could it have been the President himself?