The Michael Flynn Affair is one of those movies where you figure out a jumble of things that don’t make sense as you walk out of the theater.
There has been a deluge of articles about the Michael Flynn affair from an array of political and ideological vantage points, and SLL has reposted some of them. What’s lacking are coherent and cohesive explanations for what would be, if this were a novel or movie, gaping plot holes. The upshot of many commentators is that Trump has underestimated the Deep State, he’s floundering, and so on. This article takes the opposite tack, out of innate contrariness and because President Trump has been so consistently underestimated by both friends and foes.
Why was Michael Flynn cashiered? The administration’s story is that he talked with a Russian diplomat and mentioned lifting sanctions, then lied about his conversations to Vice President Pence. What’s become the conventional subtext is that the intelligence agencies have launched a “soft coup” against Trump, he has been significantly weakened, and the Deep State has scored a major victory.
Plot hole: if Trump had wanted to keep Flynn, he could have kept him and rode out the media firestorm. Blogger The_Real_Fly has suggested there was either a prearranged plan for Flynn to make an early exit, or Trump did an about-face, determined Flynn was not a good fit, and decided to get rid of him. A subplot hole: Flynn, an intelligence veteran, undoubtedly knew his phone was tapped. Either he knowingly said what he said to set a trap, or when the Washington Post story surfaced, Trump saw his chance and got rid of Flynn. He has demonstrated a cold-blooded capacity to quickly cut his losses: “Your fired!” It’s telling that Flynn’s replacement, H.R. McMaster, authored Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam. This looks like a classic Trump double down, replacing a maverick the Deep State didn’t like with a bigger one they’ll like even less.
Whatever the real story, Trump has gained valuable leverage on the intelligence agencies. Somebody leaked an intelligence agency transcript of Flynn’s call to the Washington Post, and that’s illegal. Just before he left office, President Obama relaxed limits on the NSA’s dissemination of its information to other intelligence agencies, the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Obama probably thought he’d be turning those agencies into a collective sieve of untraceable leaks that would plague Trump, but this may backfire spectacularly. With the new rules, the illegal leak could conceivably come from any agency that has access to NSA data. The Trump Justice Department now has carte blanche to investigate them all, unless the agency responsible coughs up the leaker to protect itself and the other agencies.
A gaping plot hole: the Deep State’s stratagems scream weakness, not the strength so many are attributing to it. The Deep State likes to stay in the shadows, zealously protecting its power by shielding it from public view. Trump has forced it into the open, and it doesn’t adjust well to the light. It has resorted to tissue-thin stories planted in the captive media that speak of assessments and opinions, but don’t offer source material that’s supposedly the basis of those subjective judgments.
The Flynn disclosure was in the same vein; the original transcript on which the Post’s story was based has not been made public. This tees it up for Trump to lambaste the mainstream media and intelligence agencies, which he has done repeatedly and to great effect. He was in rare form at his recent press conference. You only plant stories in media organs nobody trusts, sourced to anonymous operatives within an intelligence community nobody trusts, obviously breaking the law, and setting yourself up for abuse from the president, because that’s all you’ve got.
The whole Russian story reeks of “Desperation.” It is flimsy and flimsier still is the rationale offered for the Deep State’s dogged loyalty to this concoction. Any rapprochement with Russia supposedly threatens the empire and must be quashed, even if that entails ham-handed efforts to depose an elected president. However, it’s child’s play for Trump to beat a tactical retreat, talk out of the other side of his mouth, and take the wind out of his enemies’ sails.
To counter the Putin puppet fairy tale, he could have his ambassador to the UN condemn Russia’s annexation of Crimea. He could continue Obama’s military build up on Russia’s western border. Trump and team could tweet and talk tough about Russia and its allies China and Iran, and reject any joint military operations with Russia in Syria. Oh wait, all this has already happened. So why has the Deep State resorted to repeatedly discredited tactics to propagate its concocted story, ultimately helping the president in his battles with it and its captive press, supposedly in service of a foreign policy criticism of the president that he easily undercuts by adjusting his rhetoric and moving toward their position? What’s going on?
The real story isn’t Russia. Do you mount a “soft coup” over policy differences when, after all the Washington give and take, those policies will, at worst, marginally affect your influence, power, and payola? Doubtful. (Keep in mind Trump wants to increase military budgets.) If, on the other hand, you’re facing complete disgrace and ruin, including a long stretch in a penal institution, there’s nothing you won’t do to save yourself.
It’s not what politicians and bureaucrats do sub rosa that poses the biggest danger to the country and the world, but what they do in broad daylight. However, there’s no denying that Washington is the world capital of sub rosa—the unethical, immoral, and illegal. To use a favorite Trump adjective, it’s a crooked place. Trump knows or suspects where some of the bodies are buried, and the powers that be fear he’ll go after them for everything from garden-variety graft, bribery, theft, and influence peddling to crimes as sordid as child molestation and murder.
He can’t know exactly what he’ll find, but he can turn on the light and watch the cockroaches scuttle. Fishing expeditions for leaks of classified material; a crack team of auditors rooting through accounts and contracts, especially those of the military, the intelligence agencies, and their legions of subcontractors; vigorous prosecution of child pornography and molestation, making deals with small fry in exchange for testimony against bigger fry; Jeffrey Epstein and his Caribbean island; disclosures from intelligence agency archives of deception and illegality stretching back to the Kennedy assassination and Vietnam; disclosure of those 650,000 emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop; pay to play at the Clinton foundation—the list is endless and who knows what they’ll find. This, not the fear that Trump will revise US policy towards Russia, is behind the Deep State’s cold sweat, motivating its hysterical—comical if wasn’t so serious—campaign to depose him. This is the first time it has faced an unfriendly in the White House, with presidential powers to investigate, expose, prosecute, scandalize, and ruin.
Greene shook his head. “The Corleone Family don’t have that much muscle anymore. The Godfather is sick. You’re getting chased out of New York by the other Families and you think you can find easier pickings here. I’ll give you some advice, Mike, don’t try.”
The Godfather, Mario Puzo
Trump may be weak like Michael Corleone was weak, just before he wiped out his enemies, including Moe Greene. Like Corleone, Trump may be trying to further an impression of feebleness and for the same reasons: to make his enemies overconfident and to flush out traitors.
Until the swamp is drained, there is no prospect of making America great again.
“Feared, Not Loved.” SLL
The Deep State is trying to kill Trump with a thousand paper cuts. Trump has bazookas, howitzers, and tanks. Don’t bet he won’t use them.