American democracy scored a victory this week when Michael T. Flynn resignedfrom his job as National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump. The resignation came after accusations that Flynn discussed Russian sanctions with diplomat Sergey Kislyak before the election.
Flynn’s actions allegedly violated the Logan Act, a law that makes it a felony for private citizens to to negotiate with foreign governments. Whether or not Flynn violated the Logan Act is the subject of an ongoing investigation by U.S. officials. The FBI, which regularly monitors communications between Russia and the U.S., did not find any wrongdoing when it intercepted the communication last year. However, as of Feb. 9, the FBI is continuing to investigate the series of communications Flynn made. Among the subjects discussed were President Obama’s harsh response to Russia’s influence in the 2016 Election. Flynn later gave Vice President Mike Pence, among others, “incomplete information”—translation: he lied—regarding what he discussed.
The revelations should come as no surprise. Flynn has long had close ties with Vladimir Putin and his oligarchy. He regularly appeared on “Russia Today,” one of Putin’s many propaganda outlets, as an analyst. During one of his appearances, he stated “Russia has its own national security strategy, and we have to respect that.” The existence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization begs to differ. Flynn also famously appeared at a 2015 Russia Today Gala with Putin and Jill Stein, another hypocritical, self-proclaimed “people’s hero” who cozies up with autocrats. He’s even given paid speeches at these galas. It should come as no surprise, then, that many Russian lawmakers were upset with Flynn’s resignation Feb. 13 and swiftly came to his defense even after he left office.
Guilty or not, Flynn’s removal from office is a victory for Americans and global security. During Trump’s campaign, he regularly led “lock her up” chants, a reference to Secretary Hillary Clinton’s alleged crimes committed while mishandling emails, having a foundation for global health or whatever people think happened during the Benghazi attack. Flynn said that Clinton “does not know the difference between a lie and the truth.” Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, so it might be time for “lock him up” chants.
Flynn also supported the hateful speech by members of the alt-right on Twitter, along with the furthering of conspiracy theories. Keep in mind, Michael Flynn was once the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency as a U.S. Army Lieutenant General. To list off all of Flynn’s offensive or downright false tweets would take too long (though CNN put together a nice anthology), but many of them include equating Islam with terrorism. One particular tweet includes a link to a video in which Flynn calls the ridiculous assertion that the terror group ISIS is practicing Islam the “most powerful message I’ve heard in a long time.” Flynn also famously tweeted “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” with a link to a video falsely claiming that Muslims want 80 percent of the world exterminated or enslaved. Off Twitter, Flynn has also called Islam “a cancer.” It’s disappointing, especially coming from someone who was once part of the U.S.’s titan intelligence community in which patriotic American Muslims regularly put away a lot of terrorists. Perhaps it shouldn’t too disappointing, since Flynn was fired from that post.
Flynn also furthered fake news from champions of Nazism and other taboo societal views. One such champion was Mike Cernovich, who once tweeted “Have you guys ever tried ‘raping’ a girl without using force? Try it. It’s basically impossible. Date rape does not exist.” Cernovich later deleted the tweet like the coward he is. Flynn also retweeted posts by Milo Yiannopoulos, another alt-right closet Nazi who got himself banned from Twitter and enjoys a disturbingly large numbers of shares on Facebook. In Flynn’s defense, his posts were often made to disparage Muslims or attack Clinton and not explicitly espouse other alt-right ideas like anti semitism or white nationalism, but our political apparatus should include figures who reject falsehoods, conspiracy theories, hate speech and the comments of ideologies like Nazism, anarchy and fascism that have no place in our society.
And that’s why Flynn’s resignation is a victory. Trump’s inner circle of crazy ladies, shady businessmen and vaguely evil propagandists has taken a hit with the fall of Michael T. Flynn. Trump’s easily-convinced ears now have fewer people telling him, among other things, that American Muslims aim to kill us all. But it’s only a drop in the bucket: Steve Bannon still holds a permanent seat on the National Security Council while General Joseph Dunford, a modern McCarthy and the highest ranking member of the military, is left in the dark. But seeing how we’re only a few weeks in, the quick collapse of Trump’s circle of cronies is off to a good start. The sooner it’s gone, the sooner the United States can get back on-track.