In a day filled with breaking news stories, this one is going almost unnoticed. A new report makes the bombshell (what’s not a bombshell today?) allegation that Michael Flynn, who as at the time Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, convinced Trump to change a tactic in the War on Terror because Flynn was on Turkey’s payroll.
It all started even before Trump took office.
The decision came 10 days before Donald Trump had been sworn in as president, in a conversation with President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, who had explained the Pentagon’s plan to retake the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa with Syrian Kurdish forces whom the Pentagon considered the U.S.’s most effective military partners. Obama’s national security team had decided to ask for Trump’s sign-off, since the plan would all but certainly be executed after Trump had become president.
Flynn didn’t hesitate. According to timelines distributed by members of Congress in the weeks since, Flynn told Rice to hold off, a move that would delay the military operation for months.
If Flynn explained his answer, that’s not recorded, and it’s not known whether he consulted anyone else on the transition team before rendering his verdict. But his position was consistent with the wishes of Turkey, which had long opposed the United States partnering with the Kurdish forces – and which was his undeclared client.
Flynn happened to have been paid more than $500,000 to represent Turkey. After Trump fired Flynn, he did finally go forward with the Raqqa plan.
This story comes as a near-footnote to a breaking story from the New York Times that says that the Trump administration knew that Flynn was under investigation with the FBI before Trump even took office. Trump still hired Flynn and only fired him after it became public knowledge that Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail from Russia.
It’s no wonder that Trump has been pushing so hard to have the investigation into Flynn stopped, and it’s no wonder he tried to blame President Obama’s vetting of Flynn (Obama fired Flynn). To paraphrase the famous Watergate saying, we are only beginning to find out what Trump knew and now, when he knew it, and at best it’s sloppy. At worst, we could be dealing with impeachment or treason. The defense of the United States should never be determined by the highest bidder.
Featured image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images.