Trump’s National Security Adviser Seems To Be Entangled In Affairs With Russia (VIDEO)

Donald Trump has spent the better part of this week trying to put out the five-alarm public relations blaze that erupted amid rumors that he was compromised by Russia. Well, that already Herculean task has become a lot more difficult in the last 24 hours. The man who is about to become Trump’s national security adviser was in touch with Russia’s ambassador to Washington around the time President Obama lowered the boom on the Kremlin for its ham-handed attempt to influence our election.

On Thursday, Washington Post foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius posed some tough questions about the Russian hacking affair. The third question, in particular, should have sent eyebrows into hairlines. One of Ignatius’ government sources had told him that on December 29, incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn called the Kremlin’s ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak. That conversation came on the same day that Obama shuttered two Russian diplomatic compounds and booted 35 Russian diplomats out of the country.

Normally, this wouldn’t raise any red flags. During a change of government, it’s standard operating procedure for ambassadors to reach out to top-ranking officials from the incoming administration. But long before this week’s “golden showers” imbroglio, Flynn has faced questions about whether he is too cozy with Russia. He has frequently made appearances on the slavishly pro-Russian cable “news” network RT, and even sat next to Russian president Vladimir Putin at a gala for the network’s 10th anniversary.

Additionally, he has a history of playing fast and loose with security rules. He openly admitted having an illicit Internet connection installed in his Pentagon office, and also funneled classified information to NATO allies without permission. Ironic, considering that he wanted Hillary Clinton jailed for her private email server. He actually went as far as to join in chants of “lock her up” at the Republican National Convention. See for yourself.

Under the circumstances, Ignatius thought it was only fair to ask whether Flynn said anything that “undercut the U. S. sanctions.” If he did do so, he could have potentially violated at least the spirit of the Logan Act, which bars American citizens from engaging in communications that would influence a foreign power in a dispute with the United States.

Trump spokesman and incoming press secretary Sean Spicer tried to provide an answer in a Friday conference call. He admitted that Flynn and Kislyak had been in contact–but claimed that the conversation actually took place on December 28, a day before the sanctions were announced. Spicer said that three days earlier, on Christmas Day, Flynn and Kislyak texted each other Christmas greetings. According to this timeline, Flynn called Kislyak to discuss the logistics of setting up a telephone conversation between Trump and Putin after Trump took office–and nothing more was discussed.

In an update on Friday afternoon, Ignatius said that he had been in touch with two Trump aides who reiterated Spicer’s claims that the sanctions weren’t even discussed. One aide said that Flynn made two calls to Kislyak on December 28.

Reportedly, the first was to express condolences over the murder of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, a week earlier. The second was not only to discuss a chat between Trump and Putin, but also to express condolences for the downing of a Russian plane carrying members of the Alexandrov Ensemble en route to Syria. A second official told both Ignatius and NPR’s Tamara Keith that when Flynn and Kislyak spoke on December 28, Kislyak invited a Trump administration official to Kazakhstan for a conference on the Syria situation in late January.

If this were a normal transition, we could take the Trump team’s word for it. But when you combine Flynn’s ties to Russia and his documented disregard for security rules, it would be irresponsible to do so. It would be even more so when you consider that Trump’s ties to Russia have the intelligence community so alarmed that they reportedly told their Israeli counterparts to tread carefully in their dealings with Trump.

When you even have to wonder if a key member of an incoming administration’s national security team is working counter to his own country’s interests, it’s very disconcerting. This episode is yet another reminder that we find ourselves asking questions about an incoming president that, frankly, we should never even have to ask.

(featured image courtesy Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.