A former chair of the US National Intelligence Council explains what Mueller could have on Trump—and why it mattersby Gregory F Treverton / December 5, 2017 / Leave a comment
The United States is heading for a constitutional crisis that will be the greatest test of its institutions since the Civil War. The test will be whether the Republicans have the honesty to force President Trump, and also Vice President Pence, to resign under the shadow of impeachment. On current form, it looks like they will fail that test.
How did we Americans get to this pass? It came as little surprise that Michael Flynn, the former National Security Adviser, was indicted for lying to the FBI. Indeed, he was fired, ostensibly, for lying to the vice president. So Flynn-as-liar was hardly news. Nor was it news that a gaggle of Trump campaign and transition aides had met with the Russians, then lied about their meetings. If lying about meetings with the Russians were a disqualification from office, the Trump administration would be even more depopulated than it is.
Nor was it a surprise that those meetings ranged from sanctions relief for Moscow, to dirt on Hillary Clinton. Almost all of them were technically illegal, a violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from engaging in their own foreign policy. Trouble is, the Logan Act has never been successfully applied to anyone. In today’s Kardashian America, it looks almost quaint.
Flynn was once a decent intelligence officer, but his behaviour has on occasion lurched towards the Trumpian. In 2010, he wrote a critique of allied intelligence in Afghanistan, which, unusually, he published openly through a Washington foundation. I found it impressive until a colleague pointed out that he had been the allies’ J-2, or head of intelligence, in Afghanistan at the time. So, rather than critiquing after the fact, why didn’t he try to correct when he was in charge? Like Trump, he did everything except take responsibility.
In 2012, FLynn was appointed director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. As DIA director, he set in motion a carousel of reorganisation and chaos, unusual even for DIA, which has suffered more than its share of directors who seek to signify their intent in that most Washingtonian of ways—by reorganising. His tenure was such a failure that, in 2014, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, and the then-secretary of defense, Robert Gates, had to fire him.
The special investigator, Robert Mueller, has played…