Donald Trump's critics see Watergate echoes in Michael Flynn's resignation; so does John McCain

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has resigned, and in that action both Democrats and the media's punditocracy see much more than one rogue White House official. Flynn "leaves behind a famous and fateful question: What did the president know and when...

Donald Trump's critics see Watergate echoes in Michael Flynn's resignation; so does John McCain

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has resigned, and in that action both Democrats and the media's punditocracy see much more than one rogue White House official.

Flynn "leaves behind a famous and fateful question: What did the president know and when did he know it?" Huffington Post editorial director Howard Fineman wrote today. "Donald J. Trump has been president for less than a month, and already the Watergate query is all the capital is talking about, and, as a result, there is a widespread sense of a White House in deep, perhaps cataclysmic, trouble."

That might be hyperbolic, comparing Flynn's ties with Russia to the scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon 42 years ago, but perhaps not by much.

Flynn, after all, can be viewed as a Mini-Me Trump: virulently anti-Muslim, prone to conspiracy theories and lies, and with a troubling fondness for Vladimir Putin's authoritarian regime. The retired lieutenant general continued to tell what many observers will view as whoppers as he headed out the door, claiming he "inadvertently" gave Vice President Mike Pence "incomplete information" -- the left-out information, apparently, being that he discussed the Obama administration's Russian sanctions with the Russian ambassador back in December, when Barack Obama was still president. Such a discussion would be a violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. Leaks to the Washington Post suggest that Flynn lied about the conversations to the FBI. Lying to federal agents is a crime.

Obama put economic sanctions on Russia after U.S. intelligence services concluded that the Russian government meddled in America's presidential election. Trump, who has repeatedly praised Putin, vehemently denies Russia had anything to do with his victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Washington Post editorial writer Richard Cohen also brought forth Nixon's name today. Like Trump, Cohen wrote, Nixon "assembled a coterie of zealots who were itching to make (domestic) war on anyone and everyone." He continued:

"In the end, Nixon had to quit. I believe Trump will meet a similar fate, but things have changed since Nixon's time. The Senate, which in the end gave Nixon the fatal nudge, is not the institution it once was. (Where have you gone, Barry Goldwater?)"

Cohen makes an important point that Trump haters will have to keep in mind. There is a deficit of political spine in the land. Partisanship, these days, has more power than patriotism. A nation may turn its lonely eyes toward the memory of Barry Goldwater, but GOP House members and senators -- who hold the majority in both chambers -- probably won't. GOP Congressman Jason Chaffetz, head of the powerful House Oversight Committee, has already said he will not look into the Flynn scandal.

But maybe other Republicans eventually will. Arizona Sen. John McCain took over Goldwater's seat 30 years ago, and now, at 80, he is taking on Goldwater's role as the Republicans' conscience. He put out a statement giving cover to his GOP colleagues who might want to criticize the president.

"General Flynn's resignation is a troubling indication of the dysfunction of the current national security apparatus," McCain said. "General Flynn's resignation also raises further questions about the Trump administration's intentions toward Vladimir Putin's Russia, including statements by the President suggesting moral equivalence between the United States and Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, threats to our NATO allies, and attempted interference in American elections."

Democrats, of course, are picking up the call. Congressmen John Conyers Jr. and Elijah E. Cummings have asked to be a given a classified briefing "by all relevant agencies, including the Department of Justice and the F.B.I."

Fellow Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell made clear exactly what they're after:

"For the sake of our nation's future, our intelligence and law enforcement community must determine whether Donald Trump's loyalties lie with us or with the Russians."

In other words, what did the president know and when did he know it?

-- Douglas Perry

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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