The newest leak in a very leaky week: intelligence community leakers say they have intercepts where Russian officials said they thought Michael Flynn was an “ally” with whom they had a “strong relationship.”
Here’s the thing: until very recently, Flynn’s affinity for Russia and desire to improve US-Russian relations were probably better known in Moscow than in Washington.
Remember finding out a couple months ago about that 2015 RT gala reception that Flynn was paid to attend in Moscow, where he sat at the same table as Putin? Seemed like a big scoop, right?
Well, since Putin was at that reception, and since Russian news is pretty much all Putin, all the time, that reception (and Flynn’s attendance at it) was on every Russian news channel the same day it happened.
And when it was announced after the election, back in November, that Flynn would be nominated National Security Adviser, there were plenty of articles in the Russian press talking about what a great opportunity this is for Russia, specifically saying that Flynn would be a pro-Russian voice in Trump’s Cabinet. Here’s an excerpt from one such article, byline November 18, 2016, fully devoted to the topic of how great Flynn would be for Russia:
I’ll translate it for you:
Our man in Washington?
Donald Trump’s position on Russia and the futility of worldwide warfare is completely due to Flynn’s efforts. He has helped the Republican obtain support from a part of the military establishment, which initially received the candidate–to put it lightly–with caution.
Lieutenant General Leonid Ivashov, President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, commented: “The current administration [Obama] is convinced that they need to take a hard line with Russia and treat Russia as an adversary. Others, and Flynn is one of them, are of a different opinion–that there are common threats and they should be overcome together with Russia…
Flynn will be working in America’s interests. That said, the understanding of what those interests are depends on who you talk to in America.
So it’s absolutely no surprise that one Russian official told another Russian official (or that any Russian told any other Russian, official or not) that Flynn was viewed as a person inclined to steer policy in a more Russia-friendly direction. No secret intercept was needed for that. All of Russia was talking about it.
Alexei Venediktov, the legendary editor-in-chief of the Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station, tweeted that “Michael Flynn fell victim to bragging by Russian officials who said that he was in their pocket.”
In an alternate universe, if the American press had been following the Russian press closer, they probably could’ve prevented Flynn’s confirmation as National Security Adviser with headlines like “Flynn is ‘Our Man in Washington,’ Kremlin media crow.” But they didn’t, and now (very similar to the Steele Dossier, as I noted previously) the US media consumer is being presented information in the public domain–common knowledge in Russia–as being secret spy stuff.