What’s Going On: The first day in the demolition of Rome
What's Going On
Rome wasn’t built in a day; and it certainly wasn’t torn down in one either.
Friday won’t be remembered as THE day. In fact, in the annals of history, it may be forgotten entirely.
But if, and that’s a big if, the Donald Trump presidency ends one day prematurely, Friday will be prominently featured on any timeline featuring the demise of arguably one of the three most controversial presidential tenures in our nation’s history.
With the exception of Abraham Lincoln (who had a war break out after his election) and Richard Nixon (who actually resigned) no president has created more controversy before and after his election than Donald Trump. As a result, critics were looking for a way to get him out of office before he even took the oath for it.
They took one big step closer to realizing that goal Friday with Michael Flynn’s guilty plea to charges he lied to the FBI about his dealings with Russian government leaders.
Prior to Friday, there was a lot of smoke but little fire to the brewing Russian election-meddling controversy. Yeah sure, there was an investigation headed by a former FBI chief. So what? Lots of presidents or people close to them have been “investigated.”
And yes, there were some charges filed against some Trump associates, most notably Paul Manafort. But even then, that didn’t appear that serious as most of the charges surrounded misconduct before he started working for Trump, who had also fired him well before he took office.
So again, easy to shake off, ignore, and simply chalk up to eager beaver liberal politicians teaming up with the liberal media to disparage the Republican president.
That all changed Friday with Flynn’s plea.
This is a man who as a retired general added much-needed credibility to the Trump campaign in which he was heavily involved. In fact, in the irony of ironies, it was Flynn who led the “Lock Her Up” chants regarding Hilary Clinton at the Republican National Convention.
Following Trump’s election, Flynn continued to play an important part in Trump’s transition team before becoming his National Security Adviser … for a month.
It was during this transition period, from the November election the January inauguration, that Flynn started to implicate himself (at least in relation to the one charge he pled guilty to) and is frequently the case, the initial misstep wasn’t that big a deal.
In short, Flynn was in contact with Russian diplomats, telling them Trump didn’t support President Barack Obama’s sanctions he had levied following an investigation into government-sponsored computer hacking. It was a simple message: don’t get too worked up about this or make a big stink, the next guy will make it all good.
Technically, it is against the law for incoming politicians to interfere in matters of state with foreign powers before taking office. However, most concede the law (commonly referred to as the Logan Act) is outdated and rarely followed.
Interestingly though, Flynn didn’t plead guilty to a charge of violating the Logan Act. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about violating the Logan Act.
When he was interviewed by FBI officials four days after Trump took office, Flynn said the conversations between him and Russian diplomats never occurred.
Flynn is now saying his contact with Russian officials was organized by senior members of Trump’s transition team. Who knew what and when will be important details the investigation has yet to reveal, and will greatly determine how much further this controversy imperils Trump’s presidency.
I still don’t believe Friday’s events set an inevitable chain of events into motion that ends in impeachment hearings, which I do believe would have to happen before Trump voluntarily resigns.
However, we are definitely one big step closer to that reality.
Gregory Orear is the publisher of The Journal. His award-winning weekly column, “What’s Going On,” has been published in four newspapers in three states for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.