In a statement released Saturday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on the Trump administration to suspend National Security Adviser Michael Flynn over allegations that he has had inappropriate contact with Russian government officials.
“The president and his national security adviser have given the Russians the impression that whatever they do, they are not to worry, because the Trump White House will not stand against their aggression,” said Pelosi, the top congressional Democrat. “General Flynn should be suspended and have his intelligence clearance revoked until the facts are known about his secret contacts with the Russians. The American people deserve the truth.”
Pelosi’s statement came after a Washington Post story alleging that Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Kremlin’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, prior to Trump’s inauguration. Flynn has never denied having conversations with Kislyak, but both he and Vice President Mike Pence have said the calls did not include any discussion of the sanctions.
After it was revealed that U.S. intelligence officials intercepted the calls, however, Flynn conceded that he may have been wrong about that. His spokesman said Thursday that while Flynn “has no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
It’s not automatically damning if the report turns out to be true, of course. Even in the original story, the Washington Post was careful to note that U.S. intelligence agents “did not see evidence that Flynn had an intent to convey an explicit promise” to remove sanctions once Trump was sworn into office.
Still, the situation looks…not great, particularly for Flynn’s future as Trump’s go-to guy on national security. His greatest mistake may have been to involve Pence, who is reportedly irate about going to bat for Flynn after being assured that he never talked sanctions with Russian officials. Speaking to CNN, a senior White House official said that Pence felt betrayed and was determined to “get to the bottom of” Flynn’s deception.
Whether Flynn actually engaged in wrongdoing or not, this story gives Democrats yet another opening to keep pushing their Russian conspiracy theories, undermining the new president’s foreign policy agenda. If Trump has to dump his National Security Advisor to move beyond these harmful attacks, then that’s what he’ll have to do.
Hopefully, it won’t come to that. An inexperienced president needs to have people he can trust by his side as he navigates the complex world of international relations, and it’s clear that Trump values Flynn’s loyalty. But with the left looking under every rock for a scandal, Trump can’t afford to ignore anything that could weaken his administration.