From Kellyanne Conway's "clear violation of the prohibition against misuse of position", to Sean Spicer's "alternative facts", the first month of President Trump's office has been riddled with scandals. While there have been many, none have been more egregious than the latest scandal concerning president Trump's pick for national security adviser Michael T. Flynn and the looming war between president Trump and the intelligence community.
Soon after President Barack Obama announced new sanctions on Russia over recent allegations of meddling in the U.S. election, Flynn discussed these sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. The discussion of sanctions was unbeknownst to the American government and Trump's own cabinet. On January 15th Vice president Mike Pence even stated that Mr. Flynn did not discuss U.S. sanctions against Russia with Mr. Kislyak. Flynn actively mislead Mr. Pence and the rest of Trump's cabinet by denying claims of discussing sanctions. On January 26th Sally Q. Yates, then acting attorney general who was recently fired by Trump for pointing out that his proposed 'Muslim ban' violated the constitution, notified the White House council that Flynn had not been truthful after reviewing leaked audio of the conversation between Flynn and Kislyak.
On February 13th Flynn resigned as national security adviser but has yet to be charged with any crimes. Trump claims to have asked Flynn to leave due to the lack of trust between Mr. Trump and Mr. Flynn after the incident but could this be bigger than just a lack of trust?
A statute from 1799 called the Logan Act bars private citizens from interfering with diplomatic relations between the United States and foreign governments. Under the Logan Act, this is considered a felony, punishable by a fine or up to 3 years in jail. While this does not mean that Flynn will be prosecuted, it does lead to some questions about Trump's reaction to the situation. According to the White House press secretary Sean Spicer, there was "nothing wrong" with Mr. Flynn's talking with representatives of other countries to prepare for the new president taking office, and that in fact, Mr. Trump wanted him to. It is uncertain whether Trump actually knows about the Logan Act and is choosing to ignore it or if he was completely unaware of its existence.
Even more concerning is Trump's reaction to the intelligence community. Trump unleashed a flurry of tweets directed at the intelligence community and the press the following day:
The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February">https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/8315105... 14, 2017
Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?).Just like Russia
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February">https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/8318403... 15, 2017
The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by "intelligence" like candy. Very un-American!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February">https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/8318538... 15, 2017
These tweets are especially concerning because it is an attack on whistleblowers, showing again that Trump has no tolerance for people being critical or checking his administration is following the rules. On Wednesday, former NSA intelligence analyst John Schindler provided some insight into the reaction of national security officials:
US intelligence is not the problem here.
The President's collusion with Russian intelligence is.
Many details, but the essence is simple.
— John Schindler (@20committee) February">https://twitter.com/20committee/status/83187104076... 15, 2017
Now we go nuclear. IC war going to new levels. Just got an EM fm senior IC friend, it began: "He will die in jail."https://t.co/e6FxCclVqT
— John Schindler (@20committee) February">https://twitter.com/20committee/status/83187244159... 15, 2017
These tweets are a sign of impending "nuclear war" between the intelligence community and the Trump administration. Who do you think will win?