Michael Flynn’s growing connections to Russia are blowing up as a scandal that could sink the key White House adviser — and potentially lead to Donald Trump’s impeachment.
Flynn, who serves as Trump’s national security adviser, reportedly had conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States before Trump regarding American sanctions on Russia. The conversations, which Flynn had originally told The Washington Post did not include the sanctions put in place by Barack Obama in response to Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign, now appear to have hit directly on that topic.
Michael Flynn seems to be backtracking on his initial denials, which The Washington Post noted looks very bad for the White House.
“On Thursday, Flynn told The Post — through a spokesman! — that, well, who could say what he and Kislyak talked about. Flynn ‘indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up,’ the spokesman said.
“That’s, um, bad. It strains credulity that on Wednesday, Flynn could issue a flat denial about conversations he had with Kislyak, but on Thursday, suddenly his memory of those conversations changed.”
And The Washington Post goes into more detail, speaking to nine intelligence officials who said Michael Flynn made explicit references to the Russian sanctions, telling the ambassador “not to overreact to the penalties imposed by President Barack Obama,” and that Trump’s administration would review the sanctions.
This turn in reporting on Flynn’s contacts with Russia has reportedly caused turmoil in the White House, with a report from Politico that Flynn misled Vice-President Mike Pence when he said the conversations did not touch on American sanctions.
If the allegations turn out to be true, then Michael Flynn’s scandal appears to corroborate some of the more damaging allegations brought forward in a dossier compiled by former MI6 official Christopher Steele claiming that Trump’s campaign was in secret contact with Russia during the campaign with a promise to help lessen some of the sanctions crushing the Russian economy.
Though Trump’s administration has dismissed the dossier as fake and a political hit job, on Friday intelligence officials confirmed some portions of the allegations related to contacts between Russian agents, the Independent reported. Though this is not confirmation of the most salacious claims made in the dossier, it does give the entire document more credibility.
The reports drew an angry response from the White House.
“This is more fake news. It is about time CNN focused on the success of the President has had bringing back jobs, protecting the nation, and strengthening relationships with Japan and other nations. The President won the election because of his vision and message for the nation,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told CNN (via the Independent).
Michael Flynn’s scandal could soon blow up with much bigger implications for the White House and President Donald Trump. A number of top Democrats have called for Congressional investigations into Trump’s possible contact with Russia, with some directly raising the idea of impeaching Trump if it turns out he was working with the Russians.
“I am asking that the investigations really look into whether or not, for example, there was collusion with Putin and the Kremlin as they hacked into our DNC, as they hacked into our DCCC and to members of Congress,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (via Democracy Now). “What was going on? If—certainly, if he was involved, if his president of his campaign was involved with the Kremlin, etc., then I think that is grounds for impeachment.”
And Michael Flynn’s scandal may not be the only avenue to Donald Trump’s impeachment. Other advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers are also pushing for Trump to be impeached over his refusal to resolve his business conflicts of interest.
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