The first thing to remember about Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is that he vigorously denounced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a dangerous Muslim extremist.
This was during Flynn’s 2015 post-military, post DIA Director period, when he was establishing himself as one of America’s most vocal haters of all things Islamic. And the characterization of Erdogan, if extreme, wasn’t all wrong.
The Turk had not only built his career as the leader of an explicitly Islamic political party, he was becoming ever-more emphatic in his assertions of Sunni sectarian triumphalism. President Erdogan was turning hundreds of once-secular public schools into imam hatips, training schools for Sunni clerics. He was cracking down on Turkey’s religious minority Alevis, demanding the overthrow of the government of Syria’s Alawite President Bashar al-Assad and decrying his Shi’ite supporters from Hizbullah.
Erdogan had even publicly proclaimed that Sunni Muslim explorers had beaten the Dane Leif Ericson to the discovery of North America.
But once Flynn took half a million dollars from one of Erdogan’s best friends, his attitude changed. Overnight, he became a big-time backer of closer American ties to Turkey and its megalomaniac leader.
Like the soundwave that follows behind an airplane breaking the sound barrier, Flynn’s admission that he was a paid employee of a prominent political and social friend of Erdogan’s trailed in time and amplitude his public endorsement of the Turkish President.
As a retired General, Flynn was morally and legally bound immediately to report his visits to and acceptance of money from foreign powers to the Defense Department. He did not.
It was only after 3 things became widely known — that Flynn had been photographed sharing a banquet head table with Vladimir Putin, and had accepted $30,000 from Putin’s propaganda TV newschannel RT; that he had accepted $500,000 to advise Erdogan’s pal Ekim Alptekin, and that he was under investigation for failing to report these 2 commitments, that Flynn became a bit more forthcoming.
Exactly what he told the Trump transition team while he was being vetted for the job of National Security Advisor is still unclear. At the least, he appears to have warned his vetters that he was being investigated by the DOD Inspector General’s office. No one seemed to care.
Flynn got the job and quickly went to work pushing policies which suggested he was now working for at least 3 masters, Putin, Erdogan and Donald Trump. He paid an indiscreet visit to Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak to reassure him that the new administration would not continue the sanctions President Obama had announced as punishment for the Russian interference in the President election. He told Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice the Trump Administration might not support a closer alliance with Erdogan’s Kurdish enemies, the YPG militia, our most effective on-the-ground fighting force in the war against the Islamic State in Syria. He wrote an op-ed calling for the extradition of Erdogan’s arch-enemy, Fethullah Gulen to face very shaky charges of masterminding a coup against Erdogan.
Since like Erdogan, Putin had been on Flynn’s enemies list until money started to flow, we can only assume these new opinions were in the category of “bought and paid for.”
Now Flynn is bargaining with himself. He’d like to “clear his name” by testifying before Congress, but his lawyer advises, not without a promise of prosecutorial immunity. The likely outcome is the worst of both worlds. He’s not going to get immunity and he’s going to be subpoenaed to testify, which will mean a likely humiliation: endless recitations of his Fifth Amendment right to silence to ward off self-incrimination.
Flynn’s public degradation will be like a fois gras appetizer before the roast goose is served, preceding the eventual confirmation that like Flynn, President Trump is a man careful to keep his personal and political interests less-than-coincidentally intertwined, no matter what the cost to his honor and his country.