Was Michael Flynn Russia’s “primary channel of communication with the Trump team”?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Former National Security Adviser to president Trump, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Michael Flynn, has allegedly offered to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Russia’s role in the US election, on condition that he is granted immunity from prosecution.

This development could be important, because Flynn was called by Russian analyst Vladimir Frolov, known for pro-Moscow journalism, one of “primary channels of communication with the Trump team” for the Russian government.

Frolov’s assertion was given some weight by the reactions in Moscow to Flynn’s firing in mid-February, according to the Moscow Times:

“Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, wrote that ‘Russophobia had permeated the White House.’

Duma deputy Alexei Pushkov tweeted that ‘it was not Flynn who was targeted but relations with Russia.’

That such high level Russian government officials complained so bitterly about the loss of their asset, Flynn, is more than suspicious. Pushkov seems to have thought that US-Russian relations depended on Flynn being on the NSC.

Flynn had visited Moscow in 2015 and was seated with Vladimir Putin at a gala in celebration of the founding in 2000 of Russia Today, the Russian government-owned cable news channel. Flynn was allegedly paid tens of thousands of dollars for this appearance. Since he is a retired general, he should not have taken money from a foreign government and/or should have reported it, since officers can always be called back up.

Then there are allegations that Flynn began meeting with Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. After the Trump victory, which many believe was orchestrated by Russian cyber-cons, Flynn was in regular contact with Kislyak. He called him 5 times on Christmas Day. In a later telephone conversation, Flynn is alleged to have reassured Kislyak that new Obama sanctions would be reversed by the Trump administration.

The Moscow Times writes:

“Russian analyst Dmitry Suslov says Flynn’s five phone conversations with the ambassador on the day of sanctions were nothing out of the ordinary. ‘It was necessary for him to guarantee a smooth transition and devise a foreign policy for the administration,’ says Suslov.”

Soon after Flynn’s resignation, on Feb. 20, Tatyana Stanovaya, director of the Analysis Department at the Center for Political Technologies, wrote at Politcom.ru, according to BBC Monitoring, “ Michael Flynn’s resignation has come as a great disappointment to Russia, since his name was linked to some degree to hopes of a future warming of relations and a review of the sanctions regime.”

On Feb. 23, Viktor Olevich wrote in Izvestia, according to BBC Monitoring, that Trump letting Flynn go was “a sign of weakness.” He added that Flynn believed that the US could not simultaneously confront China, Iran and other threats and also handle Russia. Olevich wrote,

“In terms of America’s national interests Flynn was an advocate of detente in relations with Moscow . . . He saw opportunities for fruitful cooperation with Russia in the fight against Islamist terrorist groupings in the Middle East. At the same time, the retired general pursued the goal of driving a wedge between Moscow and Tehran, of detaching Russia from its strategic partners and allies.”

So Flynn is alleged by this Russian pundit to have sought, by his contacts with Russia, to detach Moscow from Tehran and to free the US to concentrate on China.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

CBS Evening News: ” Flynn offers to be interviewed provided he is shielded from “unfair prosecution”

20 Responses

  1. It was all an elaborate scheme around oil. Russia and Iran and Trump would have created the appearance of conflict in order to drive up the price of oil.

  2. The man who once said that if you are given immunity, it means you are guilty of something, now want immunity. The irony of it all. At least at this late stage of the game, it would be good for the good American, to be honest and tell the nation, exactly what America’s enemy has been up to, how much they have corrupted our system, and why so many of the Trump’s aides have been caught sleeping with the enemy, this includes favorite son in law Jared too.

  3. If the Russians were really hoping for warmer relations with the US, then fiddling with the election was a truly disastrous move.

  4. So what? I know we wouldn’t want to torture the statutes excessively, to indict Fynn/Trump for negotiating with a foreign power prematurely, when civilians talk politics with foreign officials everyday; especially incoming policy makers.

    What we should be interested in is monetary contributions to Trump by Russia, or strategic coordination of leaks, etc. Then there is this incredible business of Trumps Boy Nunes running to report, and spread disinformation for the White House, while purporting to investigate things?

    No, there’s enough genuinely shadey stuff going on to avoid being distracted by amateurism, incompetence, and the DNCs wishful thinking.

    This focus allows the DNC narrative to survive, that HRC would’ve won but for those dastardly Russians, and allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their own inadequacies across the board.

    This sort of thinkinking allows them to avoid facing up to the fact that Trump did not win the election, but that they and Hillary, against all the odds, practically gave the Presidency to Trump.

      • Comey and any number of smaller things would’ve made the difference to the election, but not to the country, given how weak HRC and the DNC platform were. The point remains, Russia does not absolve them of the blame.

        • travis – The electorate by and large made a hideous mistake not due to the Democratic candidate but due to corporate-owned and controlled media saturating the public with TRUMP! 24/7 which continues even louder today. Like the face of Big Brother speaking out of everyplace.

  5. We know that Flynn was being paid by the Turkish government and failed to register as required by law. Was he also being paid by the Russians? Was his appearance at the RT event a way for him to be paid for his other work for them during the campaign? Did he report these payments on his taxes? This Russian connection could end up being bigger than Watergate.

  6. Enormous amounts of money are flowing, some illegally, some without financial logic, from the most notorious criminal regime in the world before and after the election to Trump, his minions, family and organization, while trump and his cronies and family accept Russian aggression, disrupt our alliances and praise Putin. And are engaged in a coverup.

  7. As much as I despise Donald Trump, I – at present – see a total absence of evidence for the Russia-did-it meme. I see nothing at all bad that Flynn attended a celebration of RT in Russia. So did Jill Stein. And RT carries some of America’s most progressive commentators: Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz, & Mike Papantonio.
    I also see nothing improper with the new National Security Adviser responding to a phone call from a Russian diplomat. What could possibly be more important than opening up channels of communication?
    I find the mad hysteria about the evil Russian empire to be foolhardy and dangerous. Democrats are swatting at a hornet’s nest and it could lead to nuclear war. Also, Democrats seem to be engaging in a new McCarthyism.

    Michael Flynn, for all his other faults, was interested in pursuing detente with Russia. The Deep State wants him gone for that very reason. And Democrats are clinging to this evidence-free witch hunt, because they can’t come to terms with the fact that Hillary Clinton blew a very winnable election to a shallow jerk like Trump.
    Democrats should channel their energy into more productive channels. They also should rethink their drift into neoliberal economics and foreign interventions.

    • In 1968, Richard Nixon was in a tough fight against Hubert Humphrey for the presidency. Humphrey was finally getting leeway from Johnson to lean against the Vietnam War. But that required that Johnson obtain a peace deal with North Vietnam. And that required an understanding with South Vietnam’s leader, Nguyen Van Thieu.

      So Nixon, a civilian who was no longer in the government, sent go-betweens, specifically Anna Chennault, to negotiate his own counter-understanding with Thieu. Thieu needed guarantees that the War and US aid that he and his cronies were stealing would continue. In exchange for helping Nixon get into the White House to carry out that promise, he would block Johnson from making peace with the North.

      Nixon barely won the election.

      So now I ask you, was what happened between Nixon and Thieu a crime? Was it treason? Was it interference?

    • I have caught the work of Thom Hartmann and Ed Schultz on the radio very often, and Papatonio a few times, and have greatly appreciated their work.

      But I do believe that RT overall is an agent of Putin’s will. It is a very sad commentary on American media, that these gentlemen apparently feel that they cannot get on the air from any American company, and that they are forced to go to RT just to get on the air to continue to have a job in their chosen profession (where I haven’t heard any of them for the last 2-3 years.)

      Have any of these gentlemen become an advocate of Trump/Flynn – type rapprochement with Putin’s Russia? If so, thanks for your past work, but you’re no longer one of “America’s most progressive commentators” to me.

    • And also, this “witch-hunt”, or intelligent concern, as the case may be, is not “evidence-free.” My own little website has not been “hacked” as far as I can tell, but I have had a fair amount of traffic from Ukraine and Russia, and apparently I have attracted the attention of the Russian intelligence machine. In November, Google analytics reported a new language being used by visitors to my website, with a 20-word name that began with “SecretGoogle.com … and ended with “…vote for Trump.” The unusual behavior of these 130+ visitors corresponded with 130+ visitors from Russia. Other new languages referencing Trump also showed up, and apparently their genius of this new algorithm that can fool Google Analytics made his own foray, since there was also 1 visit with a new language that was 20+ mathematical signs culminating in “Pascal was here.” So even in my own little world, I have evidence that Russian intelligence is very interested in Trump and that they have developed scary, amazing capabilities to manipulate our media.

    • Kudos to you for standing up to the NYT-WaPo-CNN-MSNBC non-stop hysterical anti-Russia campaign — when Trump (who I detest as a person) began discussing the possibility of a rapprochement with Russia, The Powers That Be went into full overdrive to prevent any possibility of it — without an Enemy or “An Other”, the grotesque military budget and the military adventures would not be sustainable.

      Please let me recommend the weekly Prof. Stephen Cohen and John Batchelor podcast for insightful and informative discussions on these topics — the podcast is accessible via Prof. Cohen’s articles at The Nation magazine.

  8. Not even 100 days in and this joke of a White House is exceeding even my lowest expectations. On the bright side, it is great entertainment watching Trump send Spicer out on a near-daily basis to lie to the world.

    Unfortunately, the joke that is the Trump White House is hardly a joke when it comes to the peace and prosperity of the nation – and the world.

  9. Flynn is a flake, not to be trusted to separate fact from fiction. That he made it to lt. general does not speak well of the military.

  10. Stephen Hatt

    This is a very interesting question one can hope is answered in the near future. Somehow the term, “unwitting,” just does not seem to fit Lt. Gen. Flynn.

    • There is plenty of evidence in his prior words and deeds of “witless.”

      Maybe his contributions here have all been organic; don’t give him or the Russians too much credit.

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