The coming American explosion

Scott Gilmore on why the Michael Flynn guilty plea is so momentous, and what it says about the political devastation soon to come

FILE- In this Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn gestures as he arrives with his son Michael G. Flynn, left, at Trump Tower in New York. Michael G. Flynn tweeted about the false idea that prompted a shooting at a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor. Vice President-elect Mike Pence acknowledged Tuesday, Dec. 6, that the younger Flynn was helping his father with scheduling and administrative items during the presidential transition but told CNN "that's no longer the case." (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

In this Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn gestures as he arrives with his son Michael G. Flynn, left, at Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

On Friday morning General Mike Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian government. In the process, a fuse has been lit that may lead to the most significant political explosion in American history.

We have been expecting this moment for a long time. One of the peculiar things about the Russia scandal is that at the beginning it unfolded in the open. For example, the media almost immediately pointed out, as the campaign gained momentum, that it was staffed with several people having very questionable Russian links. And no one could avoid noticing the inexplicable regard Trump paid to Vladimir Putin, or the open interference in the election by Russian bots and hackers.

And then, as the official investigations began and the media began to pile on to the scandal, we learned something almost daily as the details continued to reveal themselves incrementally in front of us. As a result, much of what is new already seems old. We already “knew” that Flynn was in constant contact with the Russians, and we “knew” that his shifting story made it obvious he had been lying at various stages.

And anyone who has been paying attention concluded (in real time as it happened) that the incoming Trump administration had attempted to moderate the Russian reaction to Obama’s new round of anti-Putin sanctions. So, today, when it was definitively confirmed by Flynn that in late December of last year he made contact with the Russian ambassador to negotiate a response to the sanctions, and then subsequently lied about it, glancing over this news and moving on would be an understandable reaction. We already knew this. What’s next?

But that would be a mistake. We need to step back and look at the bigger picture for a moment. And if we do, we cannot fail to see the jaw-dropping significance of what is happening right now.

READ MORE: The president of the United States is unwell

It was immediately speculated, and quickly confirmed, that Flynn had cut a deal with investigators. The charges are relatively innocuous when we know the FBI likely has Flynn pinned down with several more serious charges, including conspiracy to commit kidnapping. The only reason that Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who is leading the investigation, would go easy on Flynn (and not charge his son at all in spite of his heavy involvement), is because they are getting something bigger in return. And, Flynn just released a statement saying he has agreed to cooperate with investigators. According to ABC News, that involves an offer to testify against the president himself for ordering him to contact the Russians.

Consider that again: the president’s own former national security advisor is reportedly willing to testify that Trump directed him to make contact with the leadership of America’s greatest rival, and other evidence implies Flynn and his colleagues wanted to hide this communication from even their own intelligence services, and that it involved Trump offering Russia something in return for past or future assistance. The implications of this are nothing short of incredible.

The president of the United States cannot be tried in a criminal court while in office. He can’t even be charged. But, just the accusation of wrongdoing on this scale, by a trusted source like the FBI, would be incredibly damaging to the president. After almost a year in office, he has been unable to accomplish anything of note. If Mueller reveals that he is implicated in the Russian scandal, it will fatally wound his presidency.

Even if he survives an impeachment process, it is hard to imagine him governing with any mandate for the remainder of his term. The Republican Party, too, could be savagely damaged if this blows up. How long would it take the American public to forgive them for their role in this? And then there are the institutions themselves, like the Justice Department and the FBI that have already been accused of being politicized; or Congress and the White House, which are demonstrating fallibilities that could not have been imagined even two years ago.

When Donald Trump entered politics, he quickly began to shock the system by threatening to lock up his rival, or asking Russia to hack her emails, or by denouncing America’s allies while defending Russia’s dictator. He kept tossing dynamite into the centre of the Washington establishment. Then the media have thrown on their own explosive revelations, like the dozens of secret meetings between Trump staff and Russian diplomats, intelligence agents and politicians. Congressional investigations got involved, and added a few bombs of their own to this growing heap in the centre of the National Mall, with testimony from campaign staff that Trump was well aware of these contacts. Then came the official FBI investigation. They have poured kegs of gunpowder onto the pile by indicting three people in the president’s inner circle, including his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and today his former national security advisor.

And now, at the bottom of the enormous mountain of explosives, we can see Mueller walking towards it, flicking his lighter, about to set off what may be the biggest political explosion in American history.



The coming American explosion

  1. Jared is apparently being tossed on the pile as well.

    The US is beyond a constitutional crisis

    • Gilmore needs to study the law a bit more on this. The only mandate that Mueller has is to apprehend and punish those who have committed a crime as Flynn did when he lied to an FBI investigator and as Manafort is alleged to have done via laundering money and not paying taxes. There is no law against collusion unless money or equivalent changed hands for goods or favors received. After all of Flynn’s years in intelligence service, he knows this well. So, even if what ABC purports is true, Flynn has cut a no harm to The President deal while at the same time essentially getting no sentence.
      Not in Hillary’s case , however, since money did exchange hands for the phony Trump dossier her senior people bought from a foreign agent.

      • Jerome … Forget about all this … “Yeah, but what about Hillary” nonsense. Your hero (DT) is about to go down in flames for what HE has done. All this yammering by a loud mouthed lout is nothing but deflection. Please find another site to disgrace with your presence. :-(,

        • He sure isn’t my hero-he’s way too much of a thin skinned drama queen-I’d be delighted if he was replaced with Pence. But I sure wish Trudeau would import his policies on taxation, illegal immigration and getting rid of obstructive, no value regulations.
          Consumer and business confidence in the US is at an all time high; the Dow, since he was elected, is up 35% (and my kids will have a nicer inheritance because of that); 2 million new jobs have been created and illegal immigration is down by 80%.
          And in spite of what you say, these would never have happened under Clinton-she just offered more of what Obama had done.
          And Kraminator, you are just like every other left winger-you can’t smell anything other than your own gas. Any other opinion than your own is rebuffed with nonsense.

          • You really seem to like using the abstract noun left winger as if that is an indicator of anything.
            The current business cycle has very little to do with the current leadership as any first year economics student could tell you. This is a bounce back from one of the deepest recessions since 1929. It has little to do with Trump. The impact of the current leaders will be seen years down the road.

          • Read anything but FOX and the content / information is the same. DT’s presidency stinks .. like you.

        • Problem with your comment is that so far, Trump has done nothing, but we are likely to see a pile of excrement when and if they ever seriously investigate Hillary. I would start with the Clinton Foundation.

    • Please clarify what you mean by “beyond a constitutional crisis.” There is either a constitutional crisis, or there is not. “Beyond a constitutional crisis” would obtain only if there were a constitutional crisis which was then resolved.

      • Emily is only slightly more uninformed than Gilmore.

        President-Elect Trump directing Flynn to make contact with the Russians is normal course governance.

        Had candidate Trump done so it would be a whole different story.

        There is a reason Gilmore’s fake new conservative movement got no where. Even so-called mouth breathing cons are smart enough to sniff out a rat.

    • lol constitutional crisis, get a grip Emily. This all occurred after the election, there is no collusion, as it is perfectly legal for an incoming administration to contact foreign governments. When you state something at least try and back it up with something.

  2. Yet the Clinton campaign was also colluding with other Russians (and Ukrainians) via a prominent DC law firm via Fusian GPS via Christopher Steele to the Russians to did up dirt on Trump. The FBI picked a side. They chose the Clinton side. The Clinton’s, via their long term pal Terry McAullife funded the wife of the assistant FBI’s director’s political campaign. Comey, after the meeting with Attorney General Lynch and Bill Clinton on the tarmac of the Phoenix airport, agree to call the investigation of the Clinton e-mails just a matter, and gave immunity essentially to everyone in the Clinton camp culpable in the e-mail scandal.

    The Clinton’s have their cronies deeply entrenched in the Deep State.

    Trump is horrible. Hillary would have been worse.

    North Korea’s missile development accelerated because of Clinton’s folly in Ukraine, which resulted in North Korea importing Ukrainian missile scientists and engineers. Clinton’s folly in Libya and Syria has destabilized almost the entirety of Northern Africa and the Fertile Crescent.

    • Well put!!

    • Why did you stop naming only Democrats? What about Bush and Clinton’s Administrations involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, former Yugoslavia, and for organizing regime changes and “Color Revolutions”in Europe, Asia and North Africa?
      These activities created ISIS and similar terrorist organizations resulted in loss of life, treasure and created failed States and millions of refugees.

      • You don’t think old loose Willy Clinton was a Democrat??
        And actually it was Obama who created ISIS by allowing the new Shiite Iraqi leader he installed to imprison all of the high ranking, political Sunnis.

  3. Such unfounded hyperbole.

    No wonder Gilmore’s fantasy new conservative movement fell apart so quickly. Tenuous grasp with reality. Come on Maclean’s. Up your game and at least post something with some thought behind it.

    • I think it fell apart because his wife, Catherine McKenna, beat the crap out of him and turned him into far left Liberal like herself.

      • Good for her – smart women.

  4. The Trumpians live in their own reality.

    • Gawd, THAT’S true!

    • That’s funny – their own reality. That’s the nature of life, isn’t it? Everyone has their own view of things, their own perceptions, their own constructs and understandings, therefore their own reality. How could it be otherwise?

      My reality is to be grateful for the good things that have happened since Trump was elected, and if a retired general whose earlier profession centred around obfuscating the truth, and he just couldn’t shake the habit, what of it?

      • I believe old Emily was inferring that the non Trumpians live in their own fantasy. Good point Emily.

      • Thank you for illustrating my point.

      • “My reality is to be grateful for the good things that have happened since Trump was elected…” – Just for giggles and grins, could you please provide a comprehensive list of all of these “good things”? (Remember, trump has not signed ONE piece of significant legislation, not ONE.)

        • Tax reform? A real giggle.

          “Wonder what the U.S. will look like in 10 – 20 years?”

          Heh, heh, heh. Rather fun watching the rug being woven.

        • Not too hard to do, as it is all quite evident:
          •The USA is not at war with Russia (or China). Never going to happen, you say? Hard to prove a negative, of course, but I am still grateful.
          •ISIS is being routed (they really don’t have a place in any country which upholds democracy, freedom of beliefs, and women’s rights)
          •A gradual but noticeable increase in arrests, prosecutions and convictions for sexual predators, pedophiles and kidnaping networks, accelerating now that the Clintons and their cronies are losing power.
          •Strengthening border security, since the US and Canada are likely to remain welfare states, where help is measured out. We cannot have masses of people flooding in to the country if they cannot find gainful employment

  5. It demonstrates the importance and need to criminalize lying.

    If so much justice results from prosecuting one liar, imagine if it applied to everyone.

  6. Oh good lord – another ‘journalist’ who is not an expert in much telling us that it is done and over. Pllleeeasse!!!

    If Mueller had anything of substance, Flynn would be charged (and let’s remember that the CIA/FBI were monitoring or spying on all the conversations of Russian officials because that is what they do – American citizens are supposed to be masked, but we know that the Obama Justice Department unmasked many, mostly during the transition period and surprise, surprise, surprise – Trump team members – so Trump was right that he was being wiretapped!). The wiretaps would have revealed the conversation and if it was treasonous Flynn would have been charged accordingly. THAT would have been revealing and something to follow through on – who give the orders to act treasonously? But in reality what you have is a member of Trump’s transition team talked to the Russian ambassador (not illegal and wholly appropriate for a transition team member to do so) about what the heck could be done about Syria – remember that little problem? Remember Russia is the main supporter of the Syrian ‘government’ so who else are you to talk to – South Africa or maybe Peru – how about Tongo?

    Mueller has a problem in that the only charges he seems to be able to lay are those relating to actions by people way before Trump even thought about being a candidate in the 2016 election, or after he won and was setting up his government. This investigation is supposed to be about Russian influence during the 2016 election – and he is missing a huge part of that – namely the Clinton/DNC funded fake dossier on Trump that had the Russia’s fingerprints all over it (and revealed by the former Chair of the DNC). Not a peep about that.

    The more interesting thing is why Flynn lied to the FBI – who knows, probably for the same reason that Hillary lies about nearly everything from who she was named after to taking fire in Bosnia to probably what day of the week it is.

    Given the bigger problems at the FBI that have been recently revealed including the very biased tarmac meeting investigation between Bill and Loretta to withholding documents from the Congress Justice committee etc, I think the FBI might want to start investigating themselves or at least not dig themselves into a deeper hole.

  7. This article is so pathetically laughable.
    It’s like fantasy political porn for the scared and desperate.
    Macleans is revealing it’s own fear of truth in printing this long winded nothing burger.
    How about an interesting story about the CIA money streams all drying up worldwide and where that leads.
    Macleans you are quickly running out of credibility.

    • Didn’t someone say that last year?

  8. Not that Maclean’s has been relevant for a long time, but articles like this really do make that more obvious.
    The content of what General Flynn did in speaking with “The Russians” is not even slightly controversial or unusual. The failure of the anti-Trump media to recognize this is what is controversial.
    The entire idea of the Mueller investigation is to see if there was some collusion between the Russian government and candidate Trump to alter the course of the election.
    So far, all that has been found is clear evidence that the Clinton campaign and the DNC used Russian backed sources in a failed attempt to discredit Trump.
    General Flynn lied even though he had to know that those conversations were likely to have been listened to and recorded by the FBI.
    The entire content of his admission of guilt demonstrates that Mueller found out nothing and is now reduced to using his role as Special Counselor to harass anyone connected no matter how obliquely to the Trump campaign who may have said “good day” to any Russian.
    Mueller likely already knows that there is zero chance that the Russians could alter the outcome of the election because it is clear they could not have altered the actual votes. As to influencing American voters to vote for Trump, the far more likely reason they did was that the Democrats ran an utterly unappealing and obviously corrupt candidate for no other reason than it was her ‘turn.’

    • If it is not relevant then why are you reading it and posting on the web page. It seems to have relevance to you otherwise you wouldn’t be here. Also by definition if you are on the page and are adding to the commentary you are making it more relevant.

  9. Ordering Flynn to contact the Russians is normal SOP during a transition. What is the overt act supposed to be? Assisting the Russians in stealing John Podesta’s emails? Who the heck believes that, and what other possibilities are there? (Uh, none, really.) The article is an exercise in daydreaming.

  10. Boy, someone is going to be DARNED UPSET when things don’t pan out, again.

  11. A lot of wishful thinking there, Mr Gilmore. Trump once remarked (and this is probably the only thing he ever uttered where he was entirely correct) that he could go out and shoot somebody and people would still vote for him. His base (which still constitutes the majority of Republican voters) will view any outcome of the inquiry that implicates Trump in anything illegal as the machinations of the liberal elite and will therefore simply ignore it. Similarly, Republican politicians, who are far more interested in getting re-elected than in making any moral stand, will do likewise.

    • Are you suggesting that they are living post truth lives?

    • You want them to darn well recognize the truth and act appropriately as any rational person would.

      Me too, I hate it when people choose lies. Ignoring the facts of reality demonstrated with logic and science.

      Abortion is murder.
      Affirmative action opposes equal opportunity.
      Gender dysphoria is a mental disorder.

  12. Strzok, the former top FBI official assigned to special counsel Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, was taken off his job this summer after it was discovered that he and another of Mueller’s team had exchanged emails demonizing Trump and supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    Strzok was also a key figure in the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server, which somehow ended with no charges being laid.