KremlinGate Enters Uncharted Waters as Russian Links Overwhelm DC

New revelations of clandestine ties between the president and Moscow bring turmoil to the Oval Office

Just a few days ago, I broke the story that the National Security Agency, the country’s most prolific and secretive spy service, was withholding highly sensitive intelligence from the White House, fearing that it might be compromised by members of Team Trump who possess unsettling links to Moscow. That bombshell, which gained significant media traction, was pooh-poohed by some pundits who preferred to ignore the new administration’s increasingly obvious ties to the Kremlin.

Then Michael Flynn, the embattled National Security Advisor, got pushed out late Monday, once the extent of his dishonesty about his repeated phone calls to the Russian ambassador came to light. Flynn’s unceremonious defenestration, just three weeks after the inauguration, sets a White House record—but what’s remarkable is how someone as slippery and dissimulating as Flynn lasted even that long.

Particularly since the Justice Department shared its security concerns about the National Security Advisor with the White House weeks ago, based on intercepts of calls between Flynn and the Russian embassy in Washington, to no avail. That Flynn lied about the content of those calls, specifically discussions of lifting sanctions on Russia, to Vice President Mike Pence, offered the ostensible reason why Flynn tendered his resignation, but the reality is murkier and more troubling.

In the first place, it’s difficult to see how Flynn decided to parley with Moscow without a go-ahead of some kind from Donald Trump. We don’t know this to be the case and cannot allege or even speculate that this occurred. But while Flynn is unquestionably a loose cannon, as a career military man he understands the chain of command with perfect clarity. Moreover, accepting that the soon-to-be National Security Advisor opened up back-channels of communication with the Kremlin all by himself is as credible as the notion that the Plumbers decided to break into the Watergate without orders from higher up.

Read the rest at The Observer …