As news broke last night about the resignation of National Security Advisor Flynn, the White House prepared for the onslaught of media inquires. Once can expect chaos in times like these. Yet the Trump Administration, which is already under fire for how it communicates with the media and the general public, appears to be in complete disarray.
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Consider this episode from White House Spokesperson Kellyanne Conway. These moments will be taught in social science and government classes in the very near future.
To begin with, this is the Today Show. The host interviewing Conway is Matt Lauer, who hosts the Today Show. This should have been a cakewalk. The Today Show is not known for breaking political coverage, or crushing their guests under the insurmountable weight of fact. Yet Tuesday’s Today Show did both.
Lauer opened with questions about Flynn’s resignation. This was simple enough. The National Security Advisor had discussed sanctions with Russian officials before President Trump took office. This is a violation of federal law. After, Flynn was asked about the conversations. At first he denied having discussed sanctions. Now he’s backed-off of that statement and says he may have, but that he didn’t intentionally mislead the Vice President when he was asked about the conversations.
Conway steadfastly defended the President in recent conversations, and did so again today.
“But the White House knew about [Flynn’s conversation with the Russians] last month, when the Justice Department warned the White House that Flynn had not been completely honest!”
“You’re saying that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Lauer said. Yet Trump didn’t fire him. In fact, Trump is still defending Flynn, though he has accepted his resignation, now, a month after (what Conway claims) is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“Well that’s one characterization,” Conway replied.
Lauer gets caught up in this paradox. Conway keeps trying to suggest that the President is doing the right thing by releasing Flynn, except that decision is hardly spontaneous, as it has developed over a month. And in the end, it wasn’t Trump at all, but Flynn who decided to step down.
Lauer keeps up his line of questions about who-knew-what-when, and when the President became aware of what, when he suddenly arrived at an epiphany.
“You’re starting to make me think that perhaps General Kelly wasn’t freelancing – I’m sorry, General Flynn. In fact he may have been making that call on behalf of the administration, or the incoming administration,” Lauer said.
“Kellyanne, that makes no sense! Last month, the Justice Department warned the White House that General Flynn misled them. And that as a result he was vulnerable to blackmail. And at that moment he still had the complete trust of the president?”
While it may be subtle, the assertion that Flynn was acting on behalf of the current administration, if it true, could have catastrophic consequences for the Trump administration.