With new revelations coming every hour let’s take a minute to recap what we do know and what we don’t know about the Michael Flynn scandal:
Here's what we know about the Michael Flynn Scandal
1. On December 29th Flynn placed a phone call to the Russian Ambassador, just as the Obama admin announced new sanctions against Russia for retribution of election hacking.
2. Despite installing new economic sanctions and dispelling 35 Russian diplomatic personnel, Russia announces no response-surprising both the Obama Administration and the CIA.
3. On December 30th rumors begin to circulate from an administration leak that then incoming-National Security Adviser Flynn had placed a phone call to the Russian Ambassador, follow up reports indicated the timing coincided with sanctions announcement.
4. Administration initially denies Flynn placed the call, then disputed the timing of the call, before admitting call took place.
5. Once call confirmed and timing of call verified questions turn to content of the call. Trump Administration asserts that the call did not cover sanctions, instead saying that the call focused only on pre-planning for future state visit. Trump, Spicer, and Conway confirm. Vice President Pence is sent out on the Sunday circuit to assure public that sanctions were not discussed in the call.
6. Unbeknownst to Flynn (although given his background and security clearances at the time I don't see HOW he didn't see this coming) call was being monitored by CIA as part of broader investigation into the Russian election interference. Review of transcript reveals 1. sanctions were discussed and 2. ambassador was reassured that under the new admin, "things will be different."
7. Jan. 26. Department of Justice led by interim Attorney General Yates informs President Trump of the existence of a transcript of Flynn’s conversation on sanctions that undercuts his statements about the nature of the call and warns that he may be compromised by the Russians. Trump sits on this knowledge, does not inform Pence, continues to allow Flynn to stay on as NSA which means he is being briefed at the highest security clearance level possible.
8. Jan. 29th. Trump Admin announces inclusion of Steve Bannon onto the NSA- with seniority over Flynn. Decision baffles people at the time because Bannon is not a security expert but could appointment have been motivated by Trump’s desire to monitor Flynn?
9. Feb 9th. Washington Post breaks story based on 9 sources that Flynn did talk sanctions and that there is either a transcript or snippets of the conversation that verifies this.
10 Feb. 13 Despite conflicting accounts of Trump and Flynn’s statsu from Conway and Spicer, Flynn resigns. Still unclear at this point whether he was asked to by Trump or did so on his own initiative.
What we don’t know but need answered
1. Did the order to call Russian Ambassador come from then president-elect Trump or was Flynn going rogue?
2. If Trump did not order the call- then why does the administration cite Flynn’s dishonesty to Pence, but not his dishonesty to Trump, as the reason for his resignation? Why does Flynn only apologize to Pence, but not to Trump? Is it because Trump sanctioned the call or is it because he confronted Flynn at the end of January and Flynn came clean to him, but it was still kept hidden from Pence for 2 more weeks?
3. Is a call to the Russian Ambassador the day that new sanctions are being announced by the current Administration to assure them that “things will change under the new administration” a violation of any federal laws?
4. Because Trump either learns of the content of the call OR learns that the call he sanctioned in December has now been leaked and discovered by other federal entities and yet takes no action on Flynn nor does anything to correct the record, is he in violation of any federal laws? Keeping in mind, Flynn continues with all the privileges and immunities of his positions for nearly 3 additional weeks.
5. What are Flynn’s motivations and connections with Putin? Why would he risk his career and reputation placing that call. As a 3-star general he certainly knew what he was doing was shady. The proof is that he tried to lie about placing the call, then the timing, then the content. So what could be motivating him?
6. Does it all come back to Paul Manafort? Was it quid pro quo for assistance in the election to get Trump the win?
Clearly this needs a full and open investigation by a select committee.