Rachel Maddow last night did a brilliant job of putting the Michael Flynn-Russia story into context and why it’s such a big deal.
News broke yesterday that National security adviser Michael Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador a month before Trump took office, something that Trump administration officials have been denying for months.
Why is this such a big deal? Follow the breadcrumbs.
The line of dominos started tumbling, Maddow explained, after Obama announced sanctions against Russia which included news that he was expelling Russian diplomats from the U.S.. When something like that happens, U.S. officials expect a response from Moscow.
This time there was none, and that was odd.
Putin’s muted response — which took White House officials by surprise — raised some officials’ suspicions that Moscow may have been promised a reprieve, and triggered a search by U.S. spy agencies for clues.
“Something happened in those 24 hours” between Obama’s announcement and Putin’s response, a former senior U.S. official said. Officials began poring over intelligence reports, intercepted communications and diplomatic cables, and saw evidence that Flynn and Kislyak had communicated by text and telephone around the time of the announcement.
The WaPo had NINE sources for their story, from multiple agencies. When confronted with that fact, Flynn, who had been denying for weeks that he spoke about sanctions with the Russian ambassador, suddenly said he did not recall if he talked about that or not.
The bottom line is that unless these NINE sources from multiple intel agencies are wrong, Flynn called Russia to undermine the sanctions that Obama had just announced.
“Working secretly with a foreign power to undermine the actions of the U.S. government, that’s kind of a big deal. Even the Trump folks recognize that somebody doing that would be kind of a big deal. They recognized it enough that they took great pains to deny the heck out of this for weeks now.”
And here’s why the story is so important:
“First thing to appreciate here is the lying. Either the White House spokesman, the White House Chief of Staff, and the Vice President all bluntly lied knowingly, about Mike Flynn and what he was doing with Russia. Or they lied inadvertently, unknowingly, because they were saying something they thought was true because Mike Flynn told them a lie and they passed it on, thinking it was true. Either way, that can’t stand.”
“Second point to appreciate is the direct bottom line…which is that the senior National Security Advisor in this new administration personally interfered in U.S. government efforts to punish Russia for interfering in our election.”
“There’s one last point…unappreciably big…buried in the seventh paragraph of the Washington Post story is the news that [this incident] is not a standalone thing…both papers are now reporting that Mike Flynn’s contacts with the Russian government started during the campaign…while Russia was interfering in the U.S. election to try to elect Donald Trump president his top national security advisor…was in repeated contact with the Russian government at that time.”
The talks were part of a series of contacts between Flynn and Kislyak that began before the Nov. 8 election and continued during the transition, officials said.
Maddow then spoke with Rep. Adam Schiff about the developments: