Is Flynn's defection a death blow?
Why did Gen. Mike Flynn lie to the FBI about his December 2016 conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak?
Why did he not tell the FBI the truth?
As national security adviser to the president-elect, Flynn had called the ambassador. Message: Tell President Putin not to overreact to President Obama's expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats. Trump will be president in three weeks, and we are committed to a new relationship.
Not only was this initiative defensible, it proved successful.
Putin accepted the loss of his diplomats and country houses on Long lsland and the Eastern Shore. Rather than expel U.S. diplomats in retaliation, he invited them and their families to the Kremlin's New Year's parties.
"Great move...(by V. Putin)," tweeted Trump, "I always knew he was very smart." This columnist concurred:
"Among our Russophobes, one can hear the gnashing of teeth.
"Clearly, Putin believes the Trump presidency offers Russia the prospect of a better relationship with the United States. He appears to want this, and most Americans seem to want the same. After all, Hillary Clinton, who accused Trump of being 'Putin's puppet,' lost."
Flynn, it now appears, was not freelancing, but following instructions. His deputy, K. T. McFarland, sent an email to six Trump advisers saying that Obama, by expelling the Russians, was trying to "box Trump in diplomatically."
"If there is a tit-for-tat escalation," warned McFarland, "Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia." Exactly.