The Wall Street Journal reported today confirming a relationship many have suspected for months: a tie between the Trump campaign and the hackers responsible for stealing emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server. The key link: the infamous Lieutenant General Mike Flynn himself. Surprised? Neither are we.
GOP operative Peter W. Smith, writing to colleagues requesting help in an independent effort to obtain those classified emails, implied a working relationship with Flynn, apparently as a means of legitimizing his efforts. One of those colleagues paraphrased Smith, saying, “‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this—if you find anything, can you let me know?’”
“Emails written by Mr. Smith and one of his associates,” writes the WSJ, “show that his small group considered Mr. Flynn and his consulting company, Flynn Intel Group, to be allies in their quest.” If true and not merely a name drop, this is solid evidence of a member of the Trump campaign colluding with an enemy power to sway the election in Trump’s favor. The Wall Street Journal says this is consistent with what investigators already know about the situation. (See the original article for further details.)
On the campaign trail last year Donald Trump publicly called on Russia to release the “stolen” 33,000 emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server. Since then he and his supporters have insisted it was merely an offhand joke. But this new report more than cracks the foundations of that claim, and gives further credence to the theory that Trump’s call was directed to the hackers that Smith, and reportedly Gen. Flynn, were actively trying to seek out.
Flynn has not commented on the story, but the Trump administration was quick to say that if it is true, Flynn was acting on his own as a private individual, and not under orders by the Trump campaign. But it is a curious thing that multiple men directly under Trump’s command in the 2016 campaign have been revealed to have strong, verifiable, and seriously shady connections to Russia, including one-time campaign manager Paul Manafort and consultant Carter Page. Regardless, Trump continues to deny any knowledge of such activities.
This report is as close to a smoking gun as we’ve seen thus far. Suddenly “collusion with Russia” isn’t such a far-fetched conspiracy theory. And it’s certainly an excellent explanation for the recent spate of proclamations by known Trump supporters (especially Sean Hannity, winner of the recently disgraced William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence), arguing that, to paraphrase, “Even if there was collusion, it wouldn’t be a crime.” This is a far cry from complaints of “witch-hunting” and dismissals of those who spoke about such collusion as “conspiracy nuts” that these same pundits have been making for some time.
Lt. Gen. Flynn’s curious absence from the spotlight in recent months had some speculating that he is currently talking to the FBI, and willingly so. Whether that’s true or not we can’t yet say. But to paraphrase his lawyer just a few months ago when practically begging for an immunity deal, it appears Mike Flynn does indeed have quite a story, and we are at last beginning to see its shape. The word from people connected to the U.S. intelligence community is that this report is still just a drip of information compared to what’s coming. And more, they promise, is coming.
We shan’t be surprised when it does.