President Trump’s unusual relationship with Russia took a new turn on February 13 when former White House National Security advisor Michael Flynn resigned from his position after only working for a month. Throughout the election, both Democrats and Republicans were concerned with Trump and the nature of his relationship with Russia. The primary concern was that Trump would be susceptible to Russian influence when determining policy, and that he would disclose confidential information to Russian rulers. With this, there was also concern that his staff would not follow proper protocol when interacting with Russia.
Michael Flynn validated this concern earlier this month when he misinformed Vice President Mike Pence when detailing a phone call he had with Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
Evidence discovered by the FBI indicates that during this call Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Kislyak, but Flynn has since denied that both to the FBI and to Vice President Pence. Should it be determined that Flynn did discuss the sanctions, he would be guilty of two crimes. First, violating the Logan Act of 1799, which states that private citizens may not become involved in diplomatic disputes, and second, lying to the FBI.
Flynn was asked to resign over apprehension that he would be vulnerable to Russian blackmail. At the time, there is no case against Michael Flynn, and he has since been replaced.However, this is not the end. The FBI is continuing to investigate the relationship between the Trump administration and Russia.
Despite the fact that Trump continues to deny having close connections with either Russia, or Vladmir Putin, he has surrounded himself with advisors that have close ties with Russia and has continued to withhold his tax returns, which could indicate any Russian business ties he may have.
Additionally, Trump has continued to vilify and discredit the media that has attempted to investigate and publish facts about his relationship with Russia. In his comments following Flynn’s resignation – rather than discuss how Flynn may have broken the law –, Trump spoke poorly of the media that had published information about the situation, trying to make them appear responsible for the outcome, instead of acknowledging the errors made by his staff. Michael Flynn is only one member of Trump’s administration that has shown obvious ties to Russia, and it is more than likely that he is not the only one. The FBI investigation will discover important facts about this case and the relationship between Trump’s administration and Russia as a whole, and it is the job of the media to keep the American public aware of these findings. Liberals, as well as conservatives, should remain wary of information about Russian ties given by the White House, as there is now an obvious precedent that implies they may not be disclosing the full truth.
Laura Wood is the treasurer of the Hofstra Democrats.
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