Michael Flynn resigned from his post as National Security Adviser on February 13, according to the New York Times, after it was leaked by U.S. intelligence agents that he had made a call after Donald Trump had won and then-President Barack Obama placed sanctions on Russia. Flynn had spoken with members of the Russian government and reassured them that Trump would undo the sanctions. He had previously told Vice President Michael Pence and other White House officials that he had no contact with Russia, a lie which the leaks had shown.
Bill Maher began his show Real Time on Friday Night by claiming that this was “the biggest political scandal in the United States ever” and calling it a crime before suggesting that it meant that Donald Trump had to be investigated for his role and how much he knew because it was a sign of Trump was under Russia’s control. He later called Flynn’s actions “treason — colluding with Russia to fix an American election.” There were similar opinions put out across the internet, such as Salon publishing a pretty horrible piece suggesting that the scandal was proof that Donald Trump was guilty of treason — because of the unfounded claims that Russia hacked the DNC and John Podesta — claims I have previously shown to be more likely faked to implicate Russia.
The events happened after the election, so certainly the election wasn’t going to be fixed by telling Russia that the post-election sanctions would be removed. It also was not a crime to tell Russian officials not to worry; the New York Times piece made it clear that no classified information was passed, which would be a crime. The sanctions were a petty partisan move that unnerved me because they seemed to scream “a coup is coming.” My first thoughts upon hearing of the sanctions were why in the world Obama would bother making the sanctions because obviously Trump would reverse them in just a couple months. The coup has not yet happened, but every time Russia is brought up, it raises the specter that perhaps a coup may still happen.
“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.”
I have no love for Donald Trump; he is destined to be our country’s worst president yet. While I didn’t vote for either, I did, however, find him less frightening than Hillary Clinton solely because I felt the long time war hawk who had a beef with Russia was going to lead us to a war with Russia that would end in a nuclear exchange ending all complex life on Earth. If a coup happens, it seems to be geared to do one thing: start a war with Russia.
Glenn Greenwald wrote a great story for his new outlet, The Intercept, which pointed out that the actions by the intelligence agents were indeed felonies, but wholly justified. Greenwald does a great job of pointing out much of what he earlier pointed out in October in another piece about the Podesta emails: leakers usually have impure motives, as they did here, but what they leak is vitally important. We’ve seen Democrats go from treating leaks as a worse crime than what they exposed, to treating them as a vital part of our system and Republicans made a similar switch in the opposite direction. It’s a defunct logic that allows you to take the same situation and view it in opposite ways based solely on who was outed, but Greenwald holds the same view on leaking regardless of who is exposed: it is vital.
I don’t hold the same view as Greenwald on the gravity of this particular leak; I didn’t believe he was telling the truth to begin with and it was ridiculous to lie about it in the first place; but I would certainly agree with him that good was done by showing Americans that he was lying to us, and to the rest of the Trump administration. Yet, we must take this information for what it is: he lied about a conversation that he would be expected to have, and a perfectly legal conversation.
There is no evidence that there was a Russian connection. His actions made sense in the context of Russia not being involved in our election at all. We do not need to be gearing up for war with Russia. Democratic countries like Sweden, France, Japan, and Venezuela can criticize them for the lack of democracy in Russia where the powers of state followed Putin from president to prime minister and then back to president. We can criticize them for their nasty, ultraconservative, anti-LGBTQIA policies. Yet, we do not need to be going to war with Russia and pushing that doomsday clock closer to midnight.
If we need to do investigations, we need to make sure the investigations include the possibility that CrowdStrike faked a hack of the DNC server; it should include the mysterious death of Seth Rich. We need to remember that our intelligence community is not there to find truths for the American people, but rather have a history of lying to the American people and interfering in elections themselves. In fact, WikiLeaks has just released documents showing that the CIA hacked — or at least attempted to hack — all French parties during their 2012 elections. I would not put it past the CIA to try to alter our elections through promoting a coup here, which is scary even given how horrible of a president Donald Trump is.
Carefully watch the media personalities you see over the coming months. If you see any media personality pushing the idea that Russia interfered in our elections and Donald Trump is complicit — short of some actual, valid, solid evidence coming out — you need to know that you cannot trust them. You can’t trust Donald Trump either, he’s full of false information, but you cannot trust those who are trying to push us to war. Critical thinking is vital now; not absolutism and tribalism. We must demand facts, not hysteria. Bold lies are coming from both sides and there is certainly a power struggle between the neoliberal/neoconservatives that filled both the Republican and Democratic parties and the Counter-Enlightenment, alt-right movement which has filled the positions around Donald Trump. We must make sure that we, the American people, are not pawns in this struggle, but that we ultimately hold the power.
[Featured Image by Mario Tama/Getty Images]