Dispatch December 4, 2017

Why was Flynn Ousted from the White House, and Why did Trump’s Lawyer Go Nuclear this Morning?

Today, Trump’s lawyer stopped arguing that he didn’t obstruct justice and started arguing that because he’s president it’s okay, saying “a president cannot obstruct justice.” What would cause such a panicked response? We didn’t see this with Manafort, or even Papadopoulos. What are they so desperate to hide?

Don’t forget we still don’t actually know why Mike Flynn was fired – and whether he was promised anything in exchange for upholding the cover story.

Flynn’s indictment and subsequent reporting makes it apparent that he was not fired for lying to Mike Pence. New details about his calls with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak show that Flynn coordinated with the rest of the Trump transition team. The senior Trump transition staff, including Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, and Sean Spicer, all knew the calls were about sanctions, as did senior national security staff including KT McFarland and Tom Bossert.

So why was Flynn forced to resign?

The Trump team was aware of conversations with Russians, which discredits the White House rationale for firing Flynn.

  • The official reason given was that he lied to Pence regarding his discussions with Kislyak about Obama administration Russia sanctions.
  • Now we know that Flynn was in direct contact multiple times with Trump transition officials discussing Russian sanctions. Flynn’s deputy K.T. McFarland has been identified as the senior transition official involved in discussions about what to relay to Kislyak about sanctions. And now-Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert had forwarded email exchanges from McFarland to Priebus, Spicer, and Bannon.
  • McFarland was with Trump in Mar-a-Lago on December 29 and it is very likely that Trump knew about the conversations. According to his own spokesman, Trump planned to meet with his national security team that day.
  • Flynn did not report to McFarland – she was his deputy. Flynn reported directly to Trump. If Flynn and Kislyak were in fact was serving as middle men – they had five calls in a short period of time, suggesting they were coordinating and checking in with superiors – Flynn wouldn’t be checking in with McFarland. He’d check in with his boss.
  • It would have been a conspiracy among the transition staff if this information was kept from the president-elect. So if Pence was being lied to, Trump would be just as guilty as Flynn.
  • Flynn couldn’t be fired for a decision the Trump team was fully aware of. So why was he forced out?

Trump’s behavior around the firing raises the question: was there a deal made?

  • A string of recent reporting has established a clear pattern of behavior for how Donald Trump prefers to deal with employees he wants out: humiliate them until they leave.
  • Yet, in the case of Flynn, Trump behaved exactly opposite: he was extremely complimentary of Flynn even as he took the unusual step of actually firing him.
  • If the claim that Flynn was fired for lying to Pence, but others – including possibly the President – are just as guilty, was there a deal between Flynn and Trump? In exchange for upholding the cover story about lying to Pence, would Trump relieve Flynn of his legal troubles?
  • It would explain why Trump pressured Comey to drop the case against Flynn the day after Flynn resigned.